Do you like the flavor and texture of margarine, mayonnaise or butter, but feel guilty eating them? Fats like butter and margarine give a smooth finish to many foods like potatoes, bread or toast. Health professionals ask us to limit saturated fats in a diet to less than 10 percent of calories. Based on 2,000 calories a day that would be less than 200 calories.
Avocados can give the same spreadable consistency as margarine or butter in foods as well as our mouths. Good news: They are not a saturated fat, but instead a monounsaturated fat, meaning that they don’t have a negative effect on our LDL cholesterol — the bad one.
Avocados do however have calories. Eat them in moderation. One half of an avocado has 161 calories. In comparison, 2 tablespoons of margarine or butter has 174 calories. They are sodium-free, cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat. They also are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and K and folate — much more nutrition for your calories.
For some folks, avocados are an unfamiliar food. Some trivia: Avocados are a fruit, not a vegetable. It’s tough to tell when they are ripe and how to store and peel them.
Here are some tips for buying and storing avocados:
• First, there are two types of avocado — green and dark. Choose a green avocado that is blemishes- or bruise-free. The dark avocado will turn black when ripe and give slightly when gently squeezed.
• Store unripe avocados in a paper bag at room temperature. Once ripe, refrigerate for two to three days.
To eat, insert a small paring knife sideways into the middle of the avocado, then cut all around. Gently lift up with the flat blade of the knife and you will have two halves with a pit in the middle. Remove the pit and scoop out the avocado.
Here are a few new ways to enjoy an avocado beyond the traditional dip of guacamole:
• Use as a spread instead of mayo, margarine or butter.
• Make a lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwich.
• Scoop out the pit and replace with tuna or chicken cubes for an easy summer lunch.
Try something new, purchase an avocado and use it in place of margarine, mayonnaise or butter to save calories and gain nutrients.
Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford Counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at [email protected]