Avocados have had sort of a bad rap lately, as they quite unfairly came to serve as a symbol of millenial indulgence, then got caught in the cross-fire of Trump's plan to tax Mexican imports. Yet avocados are not only incredibly healthy, but have been an integral part of human culture for around 7,000 years!

The Central American avocado tree originated in Mexico and Colombia. Then, in the 16th century, Aztecs and Incas shared them with Spanish conquistadors, who then named them "aguacates."

Later, English colonists nicknamed them "alligator pears" for their green, scale-like skin and pear shape. Now, California is also an avocado hotspot, producing over 80 different varieties— Haas avocados are the most popular.

Though avocado is usually classed as either a vegetable or a fat for culinary purposes, avocados are technically berries because of their fleshy pulp and large single seed. Luckily, they're very healthy berries indeed! One 100 gram serving of avocado provides you with 26 percent of your suggested intake of vitamin K, 20 percent of your folate, 17 percent of your vitamin C, 14 percent of your vitamin B5, 13 percent of your Vitamin B6, and 10 percent of your Vitamin E.

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Avocados also contain smaller amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous, vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin). Though this serving also contains 9g of carbs, since 7 of grams come from indigestible fiber, its amount of "net carbs" would be only 2g.

Avocados are also rich in lutein, a nutrient needed for eye health, and other beneficial organic compounds like phytosterols, carotenoids, and flavonoids. Plus, they contain 14 percent of your daily value of the electrolyte potassium, making them a great snack for replenishing after your workouts and supporting healthy blood pressure levels.

Though some avocado naysayers point out the fruit's high calorie and fat content, with a whole avocado coming in at 2-300 calories, we have to remember that calories are neither the whole picture nor inherently bad; they're what our body needs to stay healthy and whole!

A 300 calorie avocado would certainly keep you much more satisfied and offer you many more health benefits than a 100 calorie soda. However, you may want still want to limit your intake of them if you're trying to slim down fast, as in phase 2; for phase 3 and maintaining, one or one half a day is probably plenty!

The fat in avocados is also not a good reason to avoid them, since that fat consists entirely of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that has been shown to reduce inflammation and cancer risk. Oleic acid is also fairly heat resistant, making avocado oil a great choice for cooking. It's also an especially good idea to eat avocados with other vegetables, since their high fat content can help your body absorb their fat-soluble vitamins.

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Though they're wonderful by themselves, avocados can also make a perfect addition to salads, sandwiches, and omelets. Their creamy consistency also means they're awesome in smoothies, soup, and dips. Finally, you can use avocados as a healthier substitute for mayo or butter in recipes and as a great dairy substitute in desserts. Get started with the simple, healthy and delicious recipes below!

Baked Avocado and Egg

Ingredients

  • 1 x Avocado
  • 2 x fresh
  • 60g eggs
  • Cayenne pepper or paprika to taste

Directions

Cut avocado in half. Remove stone, scoop out some of the avocado to make the hollow a little larger. Crack an egg into each half, bake in medium oven till egg is cooked to your liking.

Ham And Avocado Salsa Wrap

Ingredients

  • 3 lettuce leaves (to use as wraps)
  • 1/2 medium avocado
  • 1/2 Red onion
  • 1 tbs fresh basil
  • 1tbs pine nuts, roasted
  • 120 gms shaved ham
  • 30 gms Cream cheese
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 Roma Tomato

Directions

Finely chop red onions and basil. Dice tomatoes and avocado. Combine the above ingredients into a salsa. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Spread cream cheese on each lettuce leaf. Lay shaved ham on cream cheese. Spoon salsa over the top, sprinkle on the pine nuts, and fold lettuce leaves around the ingredients.

Salmon And Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes

  • 2 tomatoes
  • 100g salmon
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 spring onion
  • 2 button mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Cut the tops off the tomatoes and hollow them out. Dice up the insides with the mushroom and spring onion. Mash the salmon and avocado and mix it all together, then spoon into the tomatoes. Season with salt & pepper.

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