I really came to love and appreciate avocados when I studied abroad in Valparaiso, Chile, in 2009. The length of the country means that Chile has many different climates, from deserts to glaciers and alpine tundras. These many, varied climates allow Chilean farmers to grow all kinds of produce — you’ve probably eaten Chilean grapes, plums, citrus, avocados, or other types of produce when domestically grown crops are out of season or unavailable. In Chile, the locally grown produce is incredibly cheap and very high quality. Avocados, in some form or another, were on the table at just about every meal I had in my 8 months in the country (and you could buy 3-4 kilograms worth for about $1 USD. If you’ve shopped for avocados at the supermarket when the California varieties aren’t in season, you’ve most likely bought either Mexican or Chilean Hass avocados. Wherever they’re grown, Hass avocados are deliciously smooth and creamy, and they are quite good for you as well.

Appearance and Taste

Hass avocados are easily identified by their oval shape and a rough, bumpy texture to the skin. They are bright green and very firm when picked. The skin will turn to a much darker green (almost a purple/black color) when they ripen. Aside from the color of the skin, you can softly squeeze an avocado (it should give slightly) to determine if it is ready to eat. The flesh is yellow in the center and turns to a green color near the outside of the fruit.An overripe avocado will look shriveled from the outside and the flesh on the inside will have brown, overly soft spots. Similarly, an avocado that is left out will turn a brownish color relatively quickly, similar to a freshly sliced apple. Hass avocados have a smooth and creamy texture and boast an incredibly rich, buttery flavor, which makes them quite versatile in your kitchen.

Nutritional Information

Hass avocados range in size, so I’ll talk in terms of a 1 oz. (30 g) serving. A medium sized half avocados contains five 1 oz. servings. A 1 oz. serving of Hass avocado contains about 50 calories, and is good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and dietary fiber, while also containing many other vitamins and minerals (vitamin E, vitamin B6, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and others). Hass avocados are also very low in cholesterol and sodium.

About the fat…

We’ve all heard the warnings of a high fat (especially saturated fats), high sodium, and high cholesterol diet. The FDA warns that such a diet can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. Hass avocados are free of cholesterol and sodium, and over half of their fat content comes in the form of monounsaturated fat. According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fats can help to lower bad cholesterol levels in the blood, consequently lowering one’s risk of heart disease or stroke. Avocado oil is rich in these fats, which also contain vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. Try substituting Hass avocados for other foods high in saturated and trans fats for a healthy and delicious change to your diet!

Uses

I love eating avocados on their own, and it’s super easy to do at your desk or in your office kitchen or break room. Simply cut the avocado in half, pull the seed out and eat it with a spoon right out of the skin. I like to add a dash of salt as well, but that comes down to personal taste. You can also scoop the avocado out of the skin and cut it into slices or cubes to add into your lunchtime salad. You can mash avocados to make guacamole, or to use as a healthy substitute for butter or oil when baking. In Chile, mashed avocado (called “palta”) is eaten all the time. One of my favorite Chilean breakfasts, which I still make regularly, is mashed avocado spread on a bagel with a little whipped cream cheese and diced red onion. Try mashing a ripe avocado and spreading it on crackers, breads, bagels, or just about anything!

Thanks for reading and make sure to grab an avocado next week! For more information than you could possibly ever need about avocados, check out Avocado Central. Please send comments or questions to kyle@fruitrevival.com.