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We all know the health benefits of eating avocados (they’re fantastic sources of fiber and a bunch of vitamins and minerals) but what can we do when we only use up half of one?

I remember buying my first avocado. I was so excited to try cooking with them! I picked out the biggest one I saw, having decided only to use half of it so I could try two recipes in two days. Meal number one was delicious. But when I looked into the fridge the next day to start meal number two, I was disappointed to find not a green, but a very brown half avocado.

Although browned avocados don’t have any negative effects when they’re eaten, they certainly don’t look tasty.

The Problem

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Why do cut avocados turn brown so fast? Avocados contain phenol compounds, which become quinone compounds when they react with oxygen in the air. Quinone compounds react with each other, which results in that dreaded brown coloration.

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This happens with lots of other fruits too, but avocados also contain polyphenol oxidase. Polyphenol oxidase is an enzyme which speeds up the avocado’s reaction to oxygen. We can thank that enzyme for catching us off guard all the time.

The Solution

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Here are two effective tricks to stop your cut avocados from turning that ugly brown and getting tossed into the compost bin. These two methods aren’t just an attempt to limit exposure to oxygen with a physical barrier like the plastic-wrap technique many people resort to using. They take advantage of natural chemical processes based on the fresh produce you already have in your fridge.

Trick #1: Lemon or Lime Juice

  • What to do: Brush some lemon or lime juice on the surface of the cut avocado, and refrigerate in a small seal-able container. I like to use juice that I just squeezed from a fresh organic lime.
  • Why it works: Lemon and limes have plenty of ascorbic acid (aka Vitamin C) and citric acid, which work together to inhibit the polyphenol oxidase enzyme, and slows down that discoloration quite significantly.
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Trick #2: Chopped Red Onions

  • What to do: Chop up part of a red onion (you only need to use about a quarter of the onion) and place it in the bottom of a small seal-able container. Then place the avocado on top, with the exposed side facing up and away from the onion pieces. Seal the container and refrigerate.
  • Why it works: Red Onions have natural anti-oxidants, which inhibit the effects of the avocado’s polyphenol oxidase. When the onion is chopped up, the greater surface area makes its anti-oxidant properties more effective. And don’t worry, this trick won’t leave you with an onion-y avocado.

The Benefits

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Why is it worth it to use up that second half of an avocado? One recent study shows that making avocados a regular part of your diet can help glucose tolerance and limits insulin resistance- which means avocados can seriously balance out blood sugar levels. Another recent study shows how the phytochemicals found in avocados act to prevent cancer by stopping the growth of pre-cancerous and cancerous cells in the body!

I think these are great reasons to make avocados regular guests in my kitchen, and to preserve them for as long as possible, as naturally as possible.

Sources:

http://www.compoundchem.com/2014/08/03/why-do-avocados-turn-brown-the-chemistry-of-avocados/

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814604001864

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1021949815001465

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1044579X07000272

http://www.bashaar.org.il/files/7274_3.pdf

Image Sources: 

http://images.food52.com/txbQc8G8WNw2CpxbrijFLOKXJ7U=/f9de9b37-4fe1-48bf-9f9c-c4b013eefc11–14743143360_41f61ba812_b.jpg

http://f.tqn.com/y/britishfood/1/S/7/R/-/-/508476839.jpg

http://ehonami.blob.core.windows.net/media/2015/06/eat-more-avocados-PIN.jpg

http://www.slowdownandsavorblog.com/2014/11/12/best-facebook-week/

http://www.popsugar.com/food/Why-Avocados-Brown-18402163

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