Avocado, also known as "alligator pear," is a pear-shaped fruit from the Laurel family. Scientifically known as Persea americana, it is a berry with one large seed in the middle prized for its creamy texture, rich flavor, and numerous health benefits.
The Philippine Variety
Avocados in the Philippines are known for their large size and attractive appearance. They have smooth, glossy green skin with yellow-green flesh.
Compared to other varieties, they tend to be more watery and slightly less creamy or oily. Their flavor is very mild, making them a perfect choice for sweet dishes that benefit from added sugar.
These avocados are available year-round in the Philippines, but their peak season generally falls between June and September.
Hundreds of avocado cultivars are grown worldwide, but the Hass variety stands out as the most popular one. It is available year-round and is named after Rudolph Hass, a postman and horticulturist from Southern California.
Hass avocados are smaller and more compact than the Philippine variety. The skin is thick and bumpy or pebbled which turns purplish-black when ripe.
Their flesh is smooth, creamy, and buttery in texture. They have a superior taste with a rich, nutty flavor and a subtle hint of sweetness.
How healthy are avocados?
According to Healthline, avocados have an impressive nutritional profile, providing essential nutrients such as folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins C, E, K, and several B vitamins. They are an excellent source of healthy fats that help lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and reduce the risk of heart disease.
The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health notes that avocados provide a substantial amount of fiber, supporting digestive health, weight management, and blood sugar control. It can contribute to a feeling of fullness, potentially reducing overeating.
With a low glycemic index (GI) of approximately 40 (where foods with a GI of 55 or less are considered low), avocados are less likely to cause significant spikes in blood glucose levels.
While avocados are generally safe to eat, it's essential to be mindful of allergies or sensitivities. If you have specific health concerns, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional.
Can you eat too much avocado?
According to Health, while avocados are highly nutritious, it's important to be mindful of portion sizes because of their calorie content. One avocado (201 grams) contains about 322 calories, making up 10-20% of daily calorie requirements.
Limiting consumption to less than one avocado per day is recommended to maintain a healthy weight and make room for other sources of healthy fats. Keep in mind that individual nutrient needs vary, so consulting a healthcare provider is best.
How to buy avocados
For immediate use, select ripe or nearly ripe avocados that are firm but yield slightly to pressure. Avoid those with soft or mushy spots and opt for heavier avocados, as they usually have more flesh and ripeness.
Hass avocados will have dark skin when ripe. You can check their ripeness by removing the small stem or cap at the top. If it comes off easily and reveals green flesh, it's likely ripe and ready to eat.
However, if the flesh is brown or black, it may be overripe or spoiled. If you plan to use them in a few days, select slightly firmer avocados that can ripen over time.
How to store and ripen avocados
If you have ripe avocados that you're not planning to use immediately, store them in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process.
If your avocados are still unripe, store them at room temperature in a cool and dry area away from direct sunlight. To speed up ripening, place them in a paper bag with a banana or apple, as these fruits release ethylene gas that promotes ripening.
To prevent avocados from overripening too quickly, individually wrap them in plastic wrap. It helps create a barrier and slows down the release of ethylene gas, which is produced by the avocado itself and can speed up ripening.
If you have cut avocados, tightly wrap the unused portion, preferably with the pit and refrigerate. To prevent it from browning, you can brush the exposed surface with an acid (lemon, lime, or vinegar).
How to cut an avocado
To cut an avocado, use a sharp knife to slice lengthwise around it, reaching the pit. Rotate and twist the halves apart.
Remove the pit by striking it with the knife, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon or peel it. Exercise caution as avocados can be slippery.
Filipino recipes with Avocado
Avocados are typically used in guacamole, salads, sandwiches, and as a spread on toast. Filipinos use avocados in desserts and beverages, or enjoy them as a standalone fruit with a sprinkle of sugar. Here are our favorites:
- Avocado and Milk: The easiest, most popular Fiipino avocado dessert where avocados are cut up and combined with ice and evaporated and/or condensed milk.
- Avocado Shake or Smoothie: Ripe avocados are blended with milk, ice, and sugar to create a creamy and refreshing beverage.
- Avocado Ice Cream: Sorbetes-style avocado ice cream, a delicious frozen treat traditionally made with avocados, coconut milk, and/or carabao milk.
- Avocado Ice Candy: A frozen treat in a small plastic casing or tube made by blending avocados with milk, sugar, and additional flavorings.
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