The incredible avocado is considered a superfood, and for good reason. According to Medical News Today, the small stone fruit is high in fiber, has twice as much potassium as a banana, contains loads of essential vitamins, has a healthy amount of antioxidants and is rich in healthy fats. It also helps aid in digestion thanks to its high fiber content. And let's not forget that the thick skin that protects the inside also keeps pesticides and harmful chemicals from penetrating the interior, making it even more appealing.
Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist, and author of Grain Brain, advocates that the avocado is one of the best foods for our brains and body because of the fat content. "Avocado is very high in monounsaturated fats that have been shown repeatedly to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity." Avocados are also a part of what he calls the “Anti-Alzheimer’s Trio," one of the three most powerful foods (in addition to coconut oil and grass-fed beef) that we should eat daily to optimize brain health.
How Do You Pick a Ripe Avocado?
While picking a ripe avocado can seem like a game of roulette, it doesn't have to be. Sure you can squeeze the fruit and try and determine the level of ripeness by how soft or firm the fruit feels. Or, better yet, according to Life Hacker (and also the way we choose avocados), pull off the stem and look at the color that is left behind. If the color is brown, the avocado is too ripe. If it's that bright green color you've come to know and love, then it's ripe and ready to eat.
Of course one of the best ways to consume perfectly ripe avocados is through guacamole, so we've pulled together our favorite recipes that put a surprising spin on your basic guac with just a couple additions. Check out the list of game-changing guacamole recipes below.
1. Baked Sweet Potato With Guacamole
Move over avocado toast, this baked sweet potato with guacamole is, quite possibly, the best thing ever. And if you are following Whole30 or the Paleo diet, then you can easily incorporate this into your weekly game plan for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
While baking sweet potatoes does reduce some of their nutritional content, it's minimal, says Cynthia Sass, RD, CSSD, and NYC- and LA-based performance nutritionist. And it's absolutely safe to eat the skin of sweet potatoes — it has up to ten times the antioxidant power compared to the flesh, according to NutritionFacts.org.
2. Autumn Apple and Avocado Guacamole
This bright, sweet and spicy take on the usual savory guacamole recipe will become your favorite go-to thanks to the unusual pairing of apples and jalapeños.
If you can handle the spice, incorporating jalapeños into your diet (not just in guacamole) can offer a host of health benefits. Jalapeños have antioxidant powers that fight free radicals, which cause premature aging along with various diseases, and the chiles can also aid in weight management. According to Science Daily, capsaicin, which gives jalapeños their heat, can raise the core body temperature and increase your metabolism. Additionally, studies have shown a reduction in appetite post-pepper consumption.
3. Roasted California Grape Guacamole
From cumin to grapeseed oil, this guacamole is full of unlikely ingredients that come together for a delicious dip at only 91 calories per quarter cup.
Grapeseed oil is full of antioxidants that help combat premature aging, improve night vision and treat tooth decay. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association also found that grapeseed oil lowers blood pressure. A study, published in The National Center for Biotechnology Information, also found that it may help fight certain cancers. Not bad for a byproduct from grapes pressed for wine.
4. Avocado Salsa Verde
The secret to crowd-pleasing guacamole? Use ingredients like spicy chili peppers and tangy tomatillos. Tomatillos, as opposed to regular tomatoes, add an exciting, slightly acidic layer to the dish's flavor profile. The contrasting notes play well with the creamy base of avocados and the bright, citrusy flavor of cilantro.
5. Guacamole With a Secret Ingredient
Guacamole is, by and large, a versatile dip thanks to the thick, creamy texture of the avocados. This makes adding ingredients to your favorite recipe a no-brainer, especially if you want to up the protein content.
Ideal as a post-workout snack, this guacamole recipe calls for Greek yogurt and increases the total grams of protein of three grams per serving to seven. In addition to the beneficial protein bump, Greek yogurt is also low in carbohydrates and contains essential gut probiotics that, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, have been shown to improve digestive function and reduce antibiotic side effects.