By Chelsea Fisher
Avocados often get a bad rap for being high in calories and fat, but not all fats are created equal. In fact, most of the fats in avocados are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats like those found in olive oil and nuts. Though there is no proven evidence that monounsaturated fats can reduce cancer risk, studies show that adding healthy fats like avocados to your diet to aid in overall health. And if the monounsaturated fats aren’t convincing enough, these green guys are also low in cholesterol and are a good source of fiber, potassium, folate and other vitamins like C and K.
Avocados can be great companions during treatment. A sore mouth is an all too frequent side effect of both chemo and some radiation, and avocado’s smooth texture and relatively bland taste can make a soothing, nutritious addition to meals and snacks. For those in chemo eating avocado can be a good way to get a boost of calories on days when appetite is slight — each medium-sized avocado contains roughly 300 calories.
There are actually over 80 different kinds of avocadoes, but the most widely available are Hass and Florida varieties. Hass avocados are small and pear shaped with rough, dark, brownish green skin; Florida avocadoes are much larger, and are bright green, smooth and shiny. When buying any avocado, make sure there are no cracks or punctures in the skin, and that the fruit is firm but soft.
If you’re on chemo, you probably know it’s not a good idea to eat commercially prepped avocado salads, however it is OK to eat fresh avocado if you take care. The avocado’s tough rind will protect the flesh from dangerous microbes until you cut into it, so when prepping your avocado, wash it thoroughly before cutting it. This will help prevent any bacteria on the skin from getting onto the flesh. Once open, cut avocado or homemade dips will keep safely for one day in the fridge, so don’t let them linger. And remember, if in doubt, always ask your RD or oncologist about certain foods before consuming them.
Hass avocados tend to be creamier in texture than the Florida variety, and are better in smoothies and mousses. Florida, while less rich, are firmer and a little sweeter, making them a good addition to salads and quesadillas.
Avocado can really be put on top of anything, but it’s the star in our Avocado Pineapple Smoothie, Bruce’s Avocado Chocolate Mousse (trust us it’s good), and our Quinoa Burrito. It’s also a delicious compliment to our Vegetarian Tortilla Soup, and Black Bean Quesadillas! And of course there’s Guacamole!