Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
If you were going to come up with a list of America’s favorite fruits, the avocado probably wouldn’t spring immediately to mind. Wait…a fruit? Yep. In fact, they’re technically classified as berries thanks to their fleshy pulp and large seeds. And popular? You bet. According to the USDA, consumer demand tripled from 2001 to 2018, and America now eats about 8 pounds of the delicious green orbs per capita each year.
While America imports avocados year-round, domestic varieties grown mainly in California are at their peak from spring through summer—most notably the Hass avocado, which was discovered in La Habra Heights, Calif., by Rudolph Hass in the 1920s. Today, every Hass avocado in the world can trace its roots back to that “mother tree.”
Did you know?
While California avocados are in season in the spring and summer, Mexican avocados are at their best from November through April.
When it comes to nutrition, avocados are mainly known as a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, specifically oleic acid (the same anti-inflammatory fat found in olive oil), which has been shown to lower triglycerides and blood pressure, and raise HDL (the “good” cholesterol).
To up your intake of healthy monounsaturated fats, use avocado as a spread instead of mayonnaise.
Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the avocado’s health benefits. In addition to 6 grams of good-for-you fats, a single serving contains:
- 15% of the Daily Value of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5, 0.7 mg)
- 11% DV of fiber (3 grams)
- 10% DV of vitamin K (11 mcg)
- 10% DV of folate (45 mcg)
- 10% DV of copper (0.1 mg)
- 6% DV of potassium (250 mg)
- 6% DV of vitamin E (1 mg)
- 4% DV of vitamin C (4 mg)
- 4% DV of magnesium (15 mg)
Did You Know?
A single avocado contains almost twice as much potassium as a banana
At the Store
If you’re lucky enough to find a basket of avocados that are already tender to the squeeze at the market, you can avoid the overripe options by lifting the stem and taking a peek at the flesh underneath. If it’s brown and not green, the fruit is past its prime and you should take a pass.
If you need to ripen an avocado, enclose it with a banana or an apple in a brown paper bag and leave it in a sunny indoor spot for 24–48 hours. The heat of the sunlight and the ethylene gas emitted by the fruit will work together to cut the ripening time.
For Hair & Skin
Avocados aren’t just for eating. Increasingly, manufacturers are finding ways to incorporate them into beauty products as well. And for good reason—those same nutrients that make them a superfood also make them a boon for healthy hair and skin. Avocado oil moisturizes, conditions, and nourishes the scalp, and it contains nutrients that support the growth of new hair follicles. It’s also especially beneficial for extra-dry, rough skin.
Apply avocado oil to the scalp sparingly, focusing on the ends up to the middle portion of your hair so as not to weigh hair down or make it look oily.
In addition to its nutritive value, refined avocado oil has one of the highest smoke points—a whopping 520°F—of any cooking oil, making it a great alternative to unhealthy vegetable oil for frying and other medium- to high-heat cooking. It also has a neutral flavor that works well in almost any dish. Unrefined, the oil is ideal for making salad dressings or drizzling over cooked foods.
Did you know?
Eating avocados with salads or salsa increases the bioavailability of healthy plant compounds known as carotenoids.
To get a taste of just how delicious and versatile the avocado can be, try one (or more!) of these recipes:
Crabacados—With oleic acid from the avocado and omega-3s from the crab, these little bites pack a big dose of healthy fats.
Chocolate-Avocado Mousse—Anyone can make guacamole from an avocado, but chocolate mousse?
Avocado-Hummus Toast—One bite of this avocado-and-chickpea mashup will make you understand what all the fuss over avocado toast is about.