Healthy Bites

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Avocados: more than just "good fat" and guacamole

Think of avocados and the first word that probably comes to mind is "guacamole." But an avocado is a fruit with much more to offer.

Avocados are also known for being high in unsaturated (or "good") fat. And an avocado contains vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin and beta carotene, which forms vitamin A.

Avocados come in literally all shapes and sizes, ranging range from round to pear-shaped. The skin can be thick or thin, green or black, smooth or rough. When ripe, an avocado will be soft but firm.

The rich, buttery taste of an avocado goes with everything from salsas to soups and salads to steak. Avocados discolor rapidly once cut, so add it to your dish at the last minute with a touch of lemon or lime juice to prevent discoloration.

To speed the ripening process at home, place several avocados in a paper bag and leave them at room temperature for two to four days. Ripe avocados can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.

Are you a fast food frequenter?

Fast-food restaurants have been making strides in creating nutritious meal options, so if you frequent fast-food places, here are suggestions to help you make healthful choices:

* It's OK to say no. Think before you answering the question, "Would you like fries with that?"

* The "Value Meal" isn't always the best bargain, especially if you're getting more food than you're going to eat.

* Get fat-free or low-fat condiments like mustard, ketchup and salsa.

* Ask for salt-free fries.

* Skip "special sauces" and garnishes.

All foods fit in a healthful eating plan, just learn to make the right choices.

This tip was provided by Kelley Steen, clinical dietitian at Central Peninsula Hospital, courtesy of the American Dietetic Association's public relations team.

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