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A is for avocado

Avocados are native to Central and South America. The varieties most often used in the UK are Hass and Fuerte. The Hass has a brown pebbly skin and is oval. The Fuerte has a thin smooth green skin and is pear-shaped.

Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, as well as potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins and fibre. They contain more calories per gram than any other fruit, however they punch far above their weight in nutritional terms, containing twice the potassium content of one banana. Eating a diet high in monounsaturated fats may be beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels.

The hard flesh of an avocado ripens to a soft texture, so when selecting choose carefully. Ripe avocados will yield slightly to gentle pressure, whilst overripe ones will be mushy to the touch. A firm avocado will ripen when left at room temperature for a few days. Once the avocado has been cut open, the flesh will discolour on exposure to the air, so cut open just before use or add a little lemon juice to prevent the natural darkening of the avocado flesh.

Avocados can be mashed to use as a dip or as a sandwich filler. They can be chopped and added to any salad. For a nutrient-packed afternoon snack, cut in half and simply scoop out the flesh. Yum!


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