Avocado, scientifically known as Persea americana, is a pear-shaped fruit belonging to the Laurel family. Commonly referred to as the "alligator pear," it is a berry with one large seed in the middle. It is highly valued not only for its creamy texture and rich flavor but also for its abundant 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.
There are hundreds of avocado cultivars 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 compared to the Philippine variety. The skin is thick, bumpy or pebbled that turns dark purplish-black when ripe. Their flesh is smooth, creamy, and buttery in texture. They have a superior taste with a rich, nutty flavor and subtle hints of sweetness.
How healthy are avocados?
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.
Avocados provide a substantial amount of fiber that supports 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 or need personalized guidance, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional.
Can you eat too much avocado?
Although 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 consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.
How to buy avocados
If you need avocados for immediate use, look for ones that are already ripe or close to being ripe. Choose firm ones that yield slightly to pressure, avoiding those with soft or mushy spots. A heavier avocado for its size often indicates more flesh and ripeness. Hass avocados have dark skin when ripe.
You can also remove the small stem or cap at the top. If it easily comes off and reveals green flesh, it's likely ripe and ready to eat. If it is brown or black underneath, it may be overripe or spoiled. If you plan to use them in a few days, choose 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.
Avocado in Filipino cuisine
Avocados are highly versatile, commonly used in guacamole, salads, sandwiches, and other savory recipes. Filipino cuisine often highlights avocados in sweet preparations like desserts and beverages. They are sometimes enjoyed as a standalone fruit, complemented by a sprinkle of sugar. Here are some other ways we use avocados:
- Avocado and Milk in Ice: 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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