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​EAT: THE AMAZING AVOCADO!

Residents of Southern California have a pretty wonderful life. We’ve got beautiful weather year-round, miles of beaches nestled against the Pacific Ocean, mountains and skiing a short drive to the east, and a yearlong growing season that yields a diverse selection of fresh fruits and vegetables. ​One delicious and nutritious fruit that we SoCal residents can enjoy through most of the year is the avocado. This bumpy green fruit may not be much to look at, but when it comes to health benefits, the avocado is amazing!

The avocado tree existed more than 10,000 years ago in a region called Coaxcatlan, which is current day Puebla, Mexico. Avocado seed remains have been discovered in the Tehuacan Valley region of Mexico suggesting that this nutrient-dense fruit might have been domesticated and consumed in prehistoric times by hunter-gatherer civilizations before the transition to agriculture.

As explorers were discovering parts of Mesoamerica and the "New World," they became familiar with the flora and fauna of the land. Spanish navigator and geographer, Martín Fernández de Enciso first documented the avocado in his account, La Suma de Geografía, published in Sevilla, Spain in 1519. He described the avocado’s taste as "that which it contains is like butter and is of marvelous flavor, so good and pleasing to the palate that it is a marvelous thing."

The taste was not the only thing that explorers were impressed with—they also noticed that natives used the avocado for its medicinal qualities. They documented that avocados were given to the sick for nourishment, to heal bruising, and as a cosmetic hair treatment to prevent split ends.

Thousands of years later, the avocado is still celebrated for its uses. The avocado has healthy monounsaturated fats that benefit the body and contribute to your overall health and wellbeing in several ways:

  • The monounsaturated fats found in avocados speeds up the basal metabolic rate
  • Eating avocado can help reduce over eating — the high content of healthy fat helps create a long-lasting feeling of fullness
  • Avocados are great source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals including fiber, potassium, vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid
  • Avocados help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients such as beta-carotene
  • Eating avocado has been associated with more nutrient rich diets, and therefore, a better quality diet
  • There is an association between lower BMI, body weight, and waist circumferences in people who eat avocado when compared to people that do not

Eating a diet that includes avocado has also been associated with higher soluble and insoluble fiber intake, lower blood pressure and stroke prevention, and in some cases, prevention of certain cancers and heart disease.

Have you had your avocado today?

With summer just around the corner, here is a refreshing, delicious, and easy recipe to try:

From the Operation Live Well Grill and Chill Cookbook

CHILLED AVOCADO AND YOGURT SOUP WITH MELON (SERVES 4)

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 8-9 ounce containers of fat-free, plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsps. lemon zest
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ripe cantaloupe
  • 2/3 cup fresh basil for garnishing
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, for garnishing

Directions

1. In a processor, blend the avocado, onion, stock, yogurt and lemon juice, until smooth. Add the zest and season to taste.

2. Spoon into bowls.

3. Using a melon baller, scoop the melon into small balls and place a few in each bowl. Garnish with fresh basil and toasted pine nuts.

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories: 466; Carb: 31g; Fat: 34g; Protein: 19g; Sodium: 182mg; Sugar: 13g.​​​

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