Avocados can have important role in healthy diets

The fat in avocados is primarily monounsaturated fat. This heart healthy fat helps lower bad cholesterol

I’m always a bit surprised when people tell me they don’t eat avocados because they are high in fat. It is true that a single avocado contains about 20-30 grams of fat. Yet as I’ve said before, it is a myth that all fats are bad.

The fat in avocados is primarily monounsaturated fat. This heart healthy fat helps lower bad cholesterol. Avocados are also a good source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They contain B vitamins, potassium and the antioxidant lutein, which is thought to help prevent cataracts. Surprisingly,, they are also a good source of fibre, containing about 10 grams per avocado.

So, despite being calorie dense, avocados have an important role in a healthy diet and even in a weight loss plan. Not only are they full of nutrients but also the fat and fibre content make you feel full. If you are trying to lose weight you don’t want to go to town on chips and guacamole, but slicing a quarter of an avocado on your sandwich or salad will make your meal more filling and nutritious.

When buying an avocado look at the color of the skin and the firmness. An unripe avocado is green and hard. A ripe avocado will feel firm but a bit soft when you apply gentle pressure. An over ripe avocado will feel loose under the skin and is very dark green-brown in color. To speed up the ripening process put your avocado in a paper bag with a banana or apple.

Looking for more ways to eat avocados? Try mashing them with fresh cilantro and limejuice and spread on a sandwich, wrap or crackers. Add slices to a salad or sandwich. Top your quesadilla or burrito with fresh guacamole.

If you are more adventurous try this unique recipe. In searching for an avocado recipe I came across this chocolate pudding. I love chocolate but the thought of combining it with avocado to make a dessert sounded too weird. However, I was so intrigued I had to try it. I was surprised and impressed by the outcome. It was a very rich chocolaty dessert with no hint of its avocado origins. I have to admit some of the ingredients seem strange but for some reason it works.

This recipe is dairy-free so it is great for vegans or people with dairy allergies. It was fast and simple to make, and the chocolate/raspberry combination was delicious! While the avocados make this recipe healthier than a pudding made with cream, it’s still calorie dense so watch your portion size.

Chocolate Pudding

2 ripe avocados

1/2 cup maple syrup

1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce

1/2 – 1 cup cocoa *

1-2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)

Shaved dark chocolate to garnish

In a food processor blend until smooth the avocado, maple syrup, vanilla extract, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Sift the cocoa powder with a metal strainer to remove lumps, then add to the avocado mixture and blend until smooth. Refrigerate the pudding in a tightly sealed container for up to a week or freeze it for up to a month. Serve chilled, layered with raspberries and garnished with fresh mint and shaved chocolate.

* Note: I suggest starting with 1/2 or 2/3 a cup of cocoa and increasing the chocolate intensity to your preference.  When trying out this recipe I used one cup of good quality dark cocoa and the pudding came out delicious but very rich. I love very dark chocolate, but I think it would be too rich for most. I suspect the quality of cocoa you use will affect the outcome. Next time I make it I’ll try it without the soy sauce, as I’m not sure that ingredient is necessary. Enjoy!

– Simone Jennings, registered dietician