PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- In honor of National Avocado Day, we found some recipes ripe for the making. But first, let's talk a bit about this beloved superfruit. Yes, it's a fruit. Avocados grow on trees and have seeds -- both defining characteristics of a fruit.
Let's face it. Avocados make pretty much any food better. And they are not just good, they're good for you, too. Mother Nature has packed them with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that our bodies need to keep us healthy. According to WebMD, avocados have more potassium than bananas, which many consider the go-to potassium-packed food. Avocados also have lutein and zeaxanthin, which are good for your eyes. "People who eat lots of foods rich in these antioxidants are less likely to have age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults," according to WebMD.
Avocados are a favorite ingredient in recipes that focus on weight management because they have a ton of fiber, which fills you up so you're less likely to overeat. They also have healthy fat, as well as a ton of B vitamins.
Folate can help boost your mood. It's also on the must-list for expectant moms. The other three are essential in helping your body turn the food you eat into the energy you need. Niacin also is known for fighting inflammation and improving your levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Your arteries will thank you. "Early research now shows that avocados in particular can also help lower 'bad' cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure," explains WebMD.
Being high in healthy fat and fiber and low in carbs and sugar, avocados are a great food for people with diabetes. Avocados also have vitamin E, which has antioxidant properties that help fight damage to your body at the cellular level, and vitamin K, which is good for bone density.
Those same nutrients that do so much good inside your body are great for the outside, too. Your skin is, after all, your largest organ. Avocado frequently appears in the ingredient lists of DIY facial masks.
Avocados are not good for animals
While avocados are healthy of us humans, they're toxic to animals. "The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, and more serious signs in other animals due to a wide range in sensitivity across species," according to the ASPCA. If you think your animals have eaten any part of an avocado, contact your vet as soon as possible. You also can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
Best part of the avocado
So, what's the best part of the avocado in terms of health? "Most of an avocado's antioxidants are found in the darker green flesh that's closest to the peel," according to WebMD.
Finally, the recipes!
Quick! What's the first dish that comes to mind when you hear avocado? Probably guacamole, right? No list of recipes starring avocados would be complete with at least one guac entry.
- This one is from MyRecipes.com, which is owned by the parent com of 3TV and CBS 5 -- the Meredith Corporation. April Warnecke made it for a Super Bowl party. While the presentation is all about the football, the guacamole stands on its own anytime.
This one from Fry's Grocery Cooking School was billed as a Mardi Gras recipe. It does have some Creole spice, but honestly, this is a fantastic dish any time. Crab. Avocado. What's not to love? Plus it does not require much in the way of cooking, which makes it a great summer recipe.
5. Avocado Cream (from Southern Living*)
Mix up your shrimp platter and set out Avocado Cream to serve alongside this traditional appetizer. It's also the perfect compliment to tacos, fajitas, even tortilla soup.
6. Avocado Salsa (from Cooking Light*)
Try this fresh and flavorful Avocado Salsa as a side dish, a tasty topping to your tacos, or simply scoop it up with some tortilla chips for a delicious snack.
7. Avocado Sauce (from Cooking Light*)
Want give your grilled burgers a little pizazz? This creamy and rich sauce is the ticket.
8. Avocado and Orange Salad (from Cooking Light*)
Avocado and Orange Salad presents a perfect blend of summer flavors to this easy side salad.
9. Avocado Gazpacho with Sourdough Croutons (from Coastal Living*)
For a cool summer soup, try this avocado-flavored gazpacho made with cucumbers, sweet onion, Greek yogurt, and more.
10. Smashed Avocado on Toast (from Cooking Light*)
Smashed Avocado on Toast is a great snack before a run or workout. With the perfect combination of healthy fats and carbohydrates, this snack will keep your body energized without weighing you down.