Avocado Is Not Just For Guacamole: Reasons Why You Should Eat It Daily

Patricia Didelot

Avocado is one of the most popular foods in the U.S. right now, but guacamole is not the only thing you can make with it. We take a look at some very important reasons you should eat it daily.

The avocado tree is native to Mexico and Central America. However, they are also found in California and Chile. The most widely available type of avocado in the United States is the Haas, which tends to be more round than other pear-like shaped ones.

Experts have named avocado a "superfood" -- a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being -- and as such its popularity has exploded in recent years. For Americans, the best-known use for the delicious fruit is to mash it and add tomato, chili, and seasonings to create guacamole, a famous Mexican dip.

However, there are countless other ways you can eat avocado. Let's try to explain how to decide whether an avocado is ripe and ready for consumption.

In general, for the Haas variety, when the skin turns a dark -- almost black -- color and is soft, but not squishy to the touch, it's perfect. Unfortunately, for the novices, this is something you will get accustomed to, as you buy and use them. Your produce department should be able to help, although one has to wonder if some grocery stores know when their avocados are past their prime.

Once you find the perfect avocado, which ideally should be blemish free, without "hairs," or not "watery," there are a number of things you can eat it with. Perhaps the easiest one is to eat it on its own, by adding a few pinches of salt (to taste). If you're not keen on doing that, you can mash it, but you will have to season it, since it has no flavor, and use it on toast or with crackers as a healthy snack.

Cutting the avocado in chunks and mixing it in a salad is another very popular way to eat the healthy fruit. Additionally, many are adding avocado slices to their sandwiches (a BLTA is a great way to have it), breakfast, sushi, wraps, or even mixing them in a smoothie. The possibilities are endless, since it doesn't have flavor you can use them as a sweet or savory, though the latter is the most popular.

So what can eating avocado do for your health? According to WebMD, avocados have more than 20 nutrients in every serving, "including potassium (which helps control blood pressure), lutein (which is good for your eyes), and folate (which is crucial for cell repair and during pregnancy)."

They are also an excellent source of vitamin B (for disease and infection prevention), C, and E, natural substances that may prevent cancer, and they're low in sugar and high in fiber, which helps you feel full for a longer period.

Avocados are high in fat, but it's the good fat, the one that helps lower the "bad" cholesterol, as long as you eat them in moderation. Since they also pack a lot of calories, the serving recommendation is about one-fifth of a medium avocado per serving.

Avocados should be stored at room temperature, but if you have a whole bunch that are ripe, you can put them in the fridge to prevent them from spoiling. What to do if you open one and it's yucky inside? Mash it up and do a hair mask -- you won't regret it.

[Image via Shutterstock]