Avocados are iconic foods that are widely known for their nutritious taste, creamy texture, and impressive health benefits. Avocados contain “good fats” like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which help reduce bad cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol. They are also packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals, such as vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin C, and lutein. Because avocados are such a nutrient-rich food, they can help with weight management, reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and lower the risk of certain chronic conditions.
For these reasons, avocados are a popular food, used in many dishes from salads, to sandwiches, to guacamole. With so many delicious ways to enjoy them, it’s easy to see why so many people include avocados in their diets. But, to ensure you’re getting the most out of your avocado, it’s important to select the right one, and watch for warning signs that you should avoid eating it.
Choosing the Right Avocado
When you’re shopping for avocados, you want to select ones that are ripe, yet still firm. Look for ones that are heavy for their size and have a dark green skin. An unripe avocado will be lighter and will have a more yellow color. If the avocado has a little bit of give to it, but is mostly still firm, it’s probably ripe and ready to eat.
To determine if an avocado is perfectly ripe, first, test the feel of the avocado. If it’s too hard, avoid it. Second, pop off the “stem” of the avocado. If the stem pops off easily, then the avocado is ready to eat. If it doesn’t pop off, the avocado is probably not perfectly ripe.
Warning Signs to Look for Before Eating an Avocado
While avocados are generally considered a healthy food, there are certain warning signs to watch for before eating them.
Discoloration is the most obvious warning sign that an avocado should be avoided. If the avocado pieces appear to be discolored, bruised, or have any sort of mold, throw it away. Once there’s discoloration, the avocado has gone bad and can no longer be eaten safely.
Another warning sign to watch for on an avocado is an off or unpleasant smell. The smell of a ripe avocado should be subtle and almost undetectable. If the smell is really strong and unpleasant, it’s a good indication that you should not consume the avocado.
The texture of an avocado is also important. If the avocado feels too soft or mushy, it’s best to avoid eating it. A perfectly ripe avocado should have a slight give to it, but should still feel mostly firm.
It’s important to be mindful of these warning signs, even after you’ve already cut the avocado. If, after cutting an avocado, you notice any of the above signs, discard it immediately.
Once you’ve gotten your hands on a ripe avocado, how do you make sure that it lasts as long as possible? First, it’s always best to use avocados as soon as possible after purchasing them. If you won’t be eating them right away, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, so they’re airtight. This helps to slow the ripening process and prevent them from turning bad too quickly.
If you’ve already cut the avocado, you can preserve it by drizzling it with lemon juice and storing it in an airtight container. The lemon juice helps to keep the avocado from turning brown and it will last for a few days before it goes bad.
Another way to preserve cut avocados is by freezing them. Simply cut the avocado into cubes, add it to an airtight container, and store it in the freezer. When you’re ready to use it, leave it out to thaw naturally or run it under cold water.
Avocados are widely celebrated for their delicious taste and their healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. To make sure you’re reaping the full benefits of this nutritious food, watch out for warning signs that an avocado may not be safe to eat including discoloration, odors, and unnatural textures. When storing avocados, wrap them in plastic wrap or store them in an airtight container with lemon juice, to help keep them from getting bad. When you’re ready to enjoy them, you’ll be all the more rewarded for your vigilance.