Archaeologists have found evidence of avocado consumption going back almost 10,000 years in central Mexico. In the 16th century, Spanish explorers became the first Europeans to eat avocados. Today avocados are enjoyed around the world.

Avocados can be a little polarizing, either you love them or hate them. With a bit of creativity, they can be used (and even hidden) in many dishes as a healthier substitute or textural component. In recent years avocados have gained the label of superfood due to their nutrition properties and extensive health benefits. One-third of a medium avocado (50 g) has 80 calories and nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients, and 3 grams fiber. Avocados are naturally sodium-, sugar- and cholesterol-free and a great source of potassium. Avocados can help increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D, K, and E.

Heart Health

About 70% of avocado fats are monounsaturated fats, which are good for heart health. According to the American Heart Association, daily replacement of saturated fats from an average American diet with unsaturated fats from one avocado can improve bad cholesterol levels in overweight and obese individuals.

Vision health

Lutein is a carotenoid found in dark green leafy vegetables, corn, eggs, and avocados. Since lutein is fat-soluble, lutein absorption from salads can be enhanced by avocados. Lutein accumulates in the retina and brain across multiple life stages. Lutein protects the retinas (eyes) from oxidation. It is known to improve or even prevent age-related macular disease, the leading cause of blindness and vision impairment in America.

Cognitive health

Lutein has been related to better cognitive function and cognitive performance across the lifespan. Experiments in older adults have shown that six months of avocado consumption improves memory and spatial working memory, improves sustained attention, and improves efficiency in approaching a problem.

Satiety 

A recent study published last year found that replacing carbohydrates in a high-carbohydrate meal with avocado-derived fat-fiber combination increased feelings of satiety that last longer than after consuming the carbohydrate-rich meal.

3 Fun facts

  • It’s believed that Mesoamerican tribes first domesticated the avocado tree (Persea Americana) 5,000 years ago, making the cultivation of avocados as old as the invention of the wheel.
  • Putting your avocados in a paper bag can help accelerate an avocado’s ripening.
  • You know an avocado is ripe if it is neither too firm nor too mushy, and the skin is very dark, but not midnight black.
  • If you have leftover avocado, leave the pit in if possible, and squeeze a little lemon or lime juice on it. Cover it tightly in an air-tight container or plastic wrap.
  • For more storage tips and ideas on how to creatively work avocados in to your diet, Love One Today is a great resource.

The recipe of the week comes from CaliforniaAvocado.com

Fudgy Chocolate Avocado Muffins (Yield 12)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour, (can use white whole wheat if desired)

6 tbsp. Truvia Baking Blend

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup chocolate chips

1 ripe fresh avocado, seeded, peeled and mashed well

5 1/3 oz. Greek yogurt, (1 container) fat-free, plain

1 cup milk, fat-free

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional), for topping if desired.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips.
  3. In another mixing bowl, mash avocado with a fork. Whisk in yogurt.
  4. Measure out milk, oil, and vanilla and pour into avocado/yogurt mixture. Whisk together.
  5. Combine the flour mixture and avocado mixture until incorporated.
  6. Scoop into prepared pan, filling about ¾ full.
  7. Top each muffin with a sprinkle of chocolate chips, if desired.
  8. Place in preheated oven and bake for about 35 mins, until toothpick comes out mostly clean and muffins spring back when touched.
  9. Let cool and then careful extract from muffin tin and enjoy!

Nutrition facts: Calories 240 kcal, carbs 35 g, total sugar 9 g, dietary fiber 3 g, protein 6 g, fat 11 g, cholesterol 0 mg, sodium 220 mg, potassium 230mg.