6 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Avocados

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Updated: August 24, 2013

You know they make a killer eggocado and are beloved among guacamole aficionados. You might also know you can feel good eating one, thanks to healthy fats and loads of nutrients. But the mighty powers of the avocado stretch farther than you probably realize.

An Avocado Is A Fruit, And More Specifically A Berry
avocado half
You might be inclined to call it a vegetable, thanks to its green hue and savory taste, but the avocado is technically a fruit, and even more specifically, a single-seeded berry. A fruit is “the matured ovary of a flower,” according to University of California Agriculture Natural Resources. Fruits consist of a tough outer layer (the skin or rind), a middle layer we typically think of as the flesh of the fruit and a casing around a seed (or seeds). Avocado is further classified as a fleshy as opposed to a dry fruit, and a berry rather than a drupe, which has tough pits or stones, like peaches.

An Avocado Has More Potassium Than A Banana
A single avocado has 975 milligrams of potassium, while a banana, well-known for being loaded with potassium, delivers just half that, with 487 milligrams per large fruit.

They’ll Ripen More Quickly With A Banana Or An Apple Around
Speaking of bananas! The yellow fruit — as well as apples — release ethylene gas, a naturally-occurring plant hormone. If you store your unripe avocados in a brown bag with an apple or a banana, the gases trapped in the bag will help those green guys ripen more speedily, according to The Haas Avocado Board.

Avocados Are One Of A Few High-Protein Fruits
avocado slices
One avocado packs four grams of protein, among the highest amount coming from a fruit.

And it’s good-quality protein to boot. While they don’t contain every single amino acid required in the body’s protein-building process, they do have all 18 of the important ones, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Plus, all of that protein is available for the body to use, while some of the protein you might get from meat sources is not.

You Can Swap Them Into Baked Goods Recipes For Butter
The creamy texture and healthy fats make for a surprisingly-easy baking substitution. And no, you won’t be making green muffins. In the right ratios, you can ditch some butter and replace with avocado for healthier chocolate chip cookies, banana bread and brownies, thanks to these tasty avocado recipes compiled by our friends at POPSUGAR Fitness.

You Don’t Have To Eat Them To Reap Their Benefits
Nutritional perks aside, avocados can play a key role in your healthy hair and skin routine. The antioxidants, amino acids and essential oils inside an avocado can help repair damaged hair, moisturize dry skin, treat sunburns and maybe even minimize wrinkles, HuffPost Style reported.

  • Kale

    strongWhy We Love It: “The ‘It Girl’ of the vegetable world,” says Elizabeth M. Ward, R.D., kale is also our pick for the healthiest green salad, thanks to its hefty dose of calcium and vitamin A. Kale is also a good source of iron and fiber, and rich in vitamin K, which benefits the bones and is important for natural blood clotting, says Ward, author of MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself Your Family Better.

    strongHow To Enjoy: It’s virtually tasteless in fruit smoothies, says Ward, if you’re not a big fan of kale but want its nutritional benefits.Kale chips are a fun option, and it’s simple to add frozen kale to soups, stews or even omelets, she says.

  • Green Tea

    Why We Love It: While tea of any variety is a superpowered sip, green tea is the least processed of the bunch, and therefore most rich in antioxidants. It’s been linked to protection against diabetes, obesity and heart problems. In 2012, two small studies shed light on green tea’s impact on cancer, suggesting it might prevent or at least slow the growth of prostate and breast cancers.

    How To Enjoy: “Certainly drinking it hot is the obvious way,” says Ward, “but you can also make smoothies out of it with fruit and it’s very good as iced tea as well.”

  • Green Peppers

    Why We Love Them: The red ones get a whole lot of love for their sky-high vitamin C content, but turns out the green variety aren’t far behind, with nearly 120 milligrams in a cup of raw peppers more than an orange! They are also a very good source of fiber, vitamin A and potassium, among other nutrients. Not to mention, they’re chock full of water, Ward says.

    How To Enjoy: Try them raw as a replacement for your favorite crunchy snack, like pretzels, crackers or chips, and dip in hummus, salsa or eat with cheese, says Ward.

  • Brussels Sprouts

    Why We Love Them:  Think you can’t stand these cruciferous veggies? They’re worth adding to your diet, for a boost of a omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B6 and C and fiber. Brussels have been linked to protecting against heart disease and a recurrence of cancer, as well as maintaining a healthy digestive system.

    How To Enjoy: The fresher the brussels, the milder the flavor, says Ward. Try them thinly sliced in a slaw, roast them with olive oil or simply steam them, if you’re a big fan of the taste, she says.

  • Edamame

    Why We Love Them: Soybeans are rich in vitamin K, fiber, iron and, perhaps surprisingly, protein. “Even though it’s a plant, it’s what we call a perfect protein,” says Ward, meaning edamame contains all of the essential amino acids. Plus, natural sources of soy have.

    How To Enjoy: Buying them frozen means you can always microwave a few to eat out of the pod whenever a snack craving strikes, says Ward. She swears by a side dish of sauteed edamame, garlic, olive oil and golden california raisins. They’re also tasty tossed into salads or soups.

  • Kiwi

    Why We Love It: Kiwi also has more vitamin C than an orange — and is also rich in antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, known to protect your peepers, says Ward. A 2011 study found that eating three kiwis a day (a lot, admittedly) could naturally lower blood pressure.

    How To Enjoy: Try cutting one in half and scooping the fruit out with a spoon, suggests Ward. They’re also great in smoothies.

  • Basil

    Why We Love It: Fiber, vitamins A, C, K and B6, as well as calcium, zinc, iron– not bad for a simple herb. Basil also seems to have anti-anxiety powers, helping lower the stress hormone cortisol, Health.com reported, and can even help beat acne.

    How To Enjoy: “Fresh herbs and spices add a lot of flavor to your dishes, and you’re not getting calories or sodium,” says Ward. Of course, basil is particularly tasty with tomatoes, but also works well in salads, chicken dishes or meat sauces, she says. Try pureeing it with onion, olive oil and pine nuts for a homemade pesto, then freeze the mixture in ice cube trays for perfect portions to thaw later, she says.

  • Thyme

    Why We Love It: A sprinkle of thyme goes a long way: One teaspoon packs 7 percent of your daily recommended intake of iron, plus vitamins A, C, E and K. There’s some research to suggest it may also help protect memory and fight bad oral bacteria, says Ward.

    How To Enjoy: Thyme pairs especially well with fish and eggs, says Ward, since it’s more “delicate” than other spices.

  • Green Beans

    Why We Love Them: A very good source of fiber and folate, green beans are also rich in vitamins A, K and C — just 10 beans provide 15 percent of your daily recommended intake of the latter. “It’s no kale,” says Ward, “but [green beans] have lower levels of a wider range of minerals and vitamins.”

    How To Enjoy: Roasting with olive oil is a simple enough strategy, but steaming works too, she says. They’re also tasty raw (or cooked) and chopped in salads.

  • Olives

    Why We Love Them: Just like olive oil, olives contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and can help protect the body against arthritis, diabetes and possibly cancer. The green ones are simply picked before ripening completely (the black ones are fully ripe).

    How To Enjoy: “Olive are great to snack on,” says Ward, just don’t overdo it, since sodium can be high. An olive tapenade makes for a great appetizer or sandwich spread, she says, and green olives can also be used in stews or meat dishes.

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