In the recent years, much has been said, written and discussed about Avocado – and the good news is that this fruit has emerged as the single most nutritious food you could feed your baby (and even eat yourself!)
What is Avocado?
Avocado is a fruit native to Mexico and Central America. There are many varieties of avocado, but the most popular and common one is known as Hass. It is a buttery fruit with a thickish rough peel (the closest similar peel would be that of the litchi fruit). The ripe inside is quite buttery in texture (firmer than a banana – more like a firm mango).
As per USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), the following is the complete nutrient breakdown of avocados:
Amount Per 1 cup, sliced (146 g)
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21 g
Saturated fat 3.1 g
Polyunsaturated fat 2.7 g
Monounsaturated fat 14 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 10 mg
Potassium 708 mg
Total Carbohydrate 12 g
Dietary fiber 10 g
Sugar 1 g
Protein 2.9 g
Vitamin B-12 0%
Health Benefits of Avocado
- The fat content of an avocado provides protection against heart diseases. Studies have shown that oleic acid improves cardiovascular health. Oleic acid is the primary fatty acid in avocados. Avocados are rich in omega-3, delivering 160 milligrams per cup of alpha-linolenic acid.
- Avocados are the only fruit with monounsaturated “good” fats that may lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and reduce triglycerides, which can harm the heart.
- Avocados contain high folate levels for heart health and protection against heart disease and stroke.
- Avocado is also a super source of soluble fiber, which helps prevent constipation.
- It is full of Vitamin E, which scientists, believe may help to prevent cancer.
- By adding avocado to your diet you can improve your absorption of nutrients.
- Avocados provide all 18 essential amino acids necessary for the body to form a complete protein. Thus making it a great choice for vegetarians.
- They contain Lutein which is a powerful antioxidant used to improve eye health.
- Avocados reduce the signs of aging, and regulate blood sugar.
- Avocados are full of magnesium and potassium, two nutrients known to help reduce blood pressure.
Buying and Storing Avocados
In the US, avocados (hass) are readily available in almost all grocery stores. In India, it is better known as “butter fruit” and is available usually in high end super markets.
Avocado is an expensive fruit, hence it is important to buy the right ones. A ripe avocado has a deep olive green-black color on the outside. When you press a ripe avocado with your thumb, the fruit should give in slightly without being mushy. Inside, a ripe avocado is bright to dark green in color. It should not be black – which would mean the avocado has become rotten. A good idea is to buy unripe avocados and store them in the refrigerator. As and when you want to use them, leave them outside to ripen. (A trick to ripen avocadoes faster is to leave them with bananas or apples or wrapped in a brown paper bag.)
Including Avocado in Your Baby’s Diet
Babies of ages 6 to 12 months:
Avocados make a great first food for your baby. All that you need to do is peel a ripe avocado and mash it well. It tastes quite buttery and is liked by most babies. A great food to serve on the go (while travel)! (Please note that an avocado blackens when kept out unpeeled (just like a banana or an apple) – so you would want to finish an avocado at one go or freeze the preparation for subsequent uses. Another tip: To reduce oxidation (browning) of an already-sliced avocado, sprinkle lemon juice on the exposed flesh and then refrigerate in a plastic bag.)
Here are some more ideas to serve avocado to your cherub:
- Milk shakes: You can blend avocado with breast milk/ formula milk/ cow’s milk to make a thick shake.
- Yogurt smoothie: Avocadoes go very well with yogurts and make delightful creamy smoothies.
- Fruit mix: You can mix mashed avocado with apples, banana, pears, and mangoes.
Serving suggestions for toddlers (1 year+):
- Finger foods: Serve cut avocado slices with a pinch of salt or shredded cheese for a healthy quick fix snack or even main course!
- Guacamole: You can get as creative with this as you want. Blend garlic powder, basil, pepper, sautéed onions/tomatoes, salt with mashed avocado and you have a nutritious dip ready for boiled veggies or baked chips.
- Sandwich spread: Spice up mashed avocado with your toddler’s favorite flavors and spread it over toasted bread.
- Pound cakes/Muffins: Substitute butter for well mashed/blended avocado in any pound cake/ muffin recipe, including the chocolate ones. You can steal in a whole world of nutrients without your picky toddler getting a whiff of it!
- Chocolate milk shakes: How to make your child’s favorite chocolate drink nutritious? Add avocado to it!
Oh by the way, not just babies, mommy and daddy can reap all the benefits of avocados from these delicious recipes too!
What food do you give your baby?
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