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Avocados, also known as alligator pears, are most famous for their role as the party favorite known as guacamole. This amazing Mexican treat is consumed at a rate of about 8 million pounds per Super Bowl Sunday. However, the avocado is no one-hit-wonder. Outside of guacamole and many other dip recipes that boast their creamy richness, the avocado has many other uses. It can even be a healthy substitute for butter in both cooking and baking.

A common misconception about avocados is that they should be avoided because they are high in calories, specifically calories from fat. But a recent article in the Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition states there are now numerous clinical studies suggesting that eating avocados helps support cardiovascular health and may actually help with weight management and healthy aging. Avocados are considered by many to be a "super food" because of their ability to help fight disease, maintain a healthy weight, and support a longer life.

Half of an avocado has 160 calories, 15 grams of unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams of saturated fat. The fat found in avocados is mostly mono-unsaturated fatty acids (72%) which is a healthy fat that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and promotes heart health by helping to lower LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels. Avocados are also an excellent source of fiber, which can promote weight loss and maintenance by keeping you feeling full longer. Avocados also have more potassium than bananas.

Did you know the avocado is not a vegetable, but a fruit? They are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects against disease and is good for your skin. Not only that, they are packed with vitamin B, C & E and are a good source of folate.

The American Heart Association (AHA) dietary guidelines recommend a diet that includes at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, is rich in potassium, contains up to 30% of calories from fats, mostly unsaturated, and is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans-fat. Avocados meet these guidelines with flying colors.

So, try substituting avocados for butter in your next dish, or add it to your next breakfast smoothie, salad, burger, or sandwich. And, most importantly, don't feel bad eating guacamole at your next super bowl party!

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