Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Avocados in Their Prime

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Avocados in Their Prime

Article excerpt

Avocados are proof that delicious things sometimes come in humble packages.

With its thick, pebbly, green skin, this tree fruit has rightly earned the nickname "alligator pear."

Slice one open, especially during summer when avocados taste best and are abundant, and you're rewarded with a soft, buttery green flesh.

This mildly nutty, creamy fruit, indigenous to Mexico, is made for no-frills summer cuisine. Sliced up they add substance to salads and sandwiches, and diced in a relish they compliment grilled meats. "The texture and taste of an avocado is like nothing else," says Lynn Logg, corporate chef at ShopRite. "With its fairly neutral flavor, this time of year it's just really refreshing in a salad."

The most popular variety in the United States is the Hass avocado, first cultivated by a California postman named Rudolph Hass in 1926. His original mother tree, from which all Hass avocados descend, stood in the soil until 2002.

"The Hass avocado hits that magical spot of deliciousness and travels really well. It's sturdy," says Fairway Market spokeswoman Hannah Howard. Fairway also carries the lesser-known Fuerte avocado, which is slightly bigger, greener and smoother than the Hass.

While avocados are available year-round, they taste best in the warm months, Howard says.

For decades the avocado unfairly bore a bad reputation for its high fat content. Now that experts better understand the difference between "good" and "bad" fats, the fruit is once again held in high esteem as an excellent source of healthy plant-based fats.

"Research shows that when you replace saturated fats, such as butter and meats, with mono and polyunsaturated fats it helps lower cholesterol," says Nicole Hallissey, registered dietitian for ShopRite of Oakland. "Plant fats can be very good for you heart."

In addition, avocados contain 20 vitamins and minerals, fiber and potassium, which are good for healthy hair, skin and nails. But one thing to note: Because avocados are high in fat, they are also high in calories. About one-fifth of an avocado contains 50 calories, says Hallissey. For this reason, Hallissey recommends finding an "avocado buddy," somebody to always share a half the fruit with. …

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