Since June Flourish with Food has been focusing on foods associated with slowing the cognitive changes people often experience as they get older. These MIND-emphasized foods complement foods associated with the Mediterranean dietary pattern. 

The last two months focused on the MIND categories leafy greens and all other vegetables.

This month’s feature highlights avocados, part of the all other vegetables group. Why highlight?

The Hass Avocado Board has a catchy promotion, Love One Today, that caught my eye.  Avocados are undoubtedly easy to promote on healthfulness alone.  They are exceptionally nutrient-rich, especially in healthy monounsaturated fat. This is the primary fat also found in olive oil, a component of the Mediterranean diet. 

Fun trivia…is the avocado a vegetable or fruit?  Botanically, avocados are a fruit because of their fleshly pulp and large seed.  However, the USDA classifies avocados as a vegetable based on their common usage.  Avocados are a vegetable.

Avocado’s nutrition profile: 1/2 of medium (2.5 oz), 130 calories, 5 g fiber, 5 mg sodium, 1 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate, no sugar, and 20 vitamins and minerals. Additionally, avocados are rich in antioxidants and water (72%).  

Avocados can help one feel fuller longer due to their high-fat content.  The high amount of fat also allows pureed avocado to be a possible alternative to butter or oil in baking.

So, what are the primary barriers to choosing avocados?  Cost, turning brown too quickly when using only part of, too perishable, and not ripe enough to use when purchased.  

Tips for selecting avocados in the market:

Tips for handling avocados at home:

  • Store at room temperature until desired degree of ripeness.
  • Put in a closed brown paper bag, at room temperature, with an apple or banana to speed up ripening.
  • Store ripe avocados in the refrigerator for a couple of days if not ready to eat yet.
  • Store firm, unripe avocados in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks to hold longer while ripening slowly.
  • Sprinkle an unused avocado half (in skin, with pit) with lemon juice, tightly cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
  • Watch this video to safely cut, slice, peel, and pit -

Simple no-recipe ways to use avocado

  • “As is” seasoned with salt, pepper, everything bagel seasoning, balsamic vinegar, lemon pepper, etc.
  • As a simple spread on whole grain crackers, toast, sandwiches or tortilla wraps
  • As a binder in place of or mixed with mayo in tuna, egg, and chicken salad
  • In scrambled eggs, adding halfway when cooking
  • Cracked egg in a half, baking about 15 minutes at 425 degrees
  • Stuffed with tuna, egg, or chicken salad
  • As an alternative to sour cream on baked potatoes and tacos
  • In smoothies
  • Mixed ½ and ½ with hummus for a dip or spread

For creative recipes using avocados:

About Mary Lynne Hixson, MA, RD:

Mary Lynne, a registered dietitian, helps others enhance their health through the advocacy of nutrient-rich food choices and safe food-handling practices. Her expertise also includes counseling patients who have Type 2 diabetes and advising those who are in medically managed weight loss programs. After her 35+ year career, she retired and became involved with the launch of Harvest of Hope Pantry in 2012 as a Board of Directors member. Mary Lynne is a weekly volunteer with Cultivate’s Carry-Out Caravan program, shopping and delivering groceries to seniors in the Boulder area, and also a frequent volunteer with Harvest of Hope.