What’s Green and Buttery and Healthy All Over?

Officially, it’s observed on July 31, but who’s going to complain if you celebrate every day as though it were National Avocado Day? Pass the guacamole, please.

The avocado’s buttery goodness isn’t the only reason to add this superfood to your mealtime rotation: Beneath its tough exterior—did you know the avocado is also called the “alligator pear”?—is a veritable checklist of vitamins, minerals, and other healthy things that make nutritionists happy.

What does this green giant do to keep us in the pink? Practically everything.

True, avocados are high in fat, but we’re talking monounsaturated fat—the “good” kind, which helps cut levels of harmful LDL cholesterol while raising levels of HDL, which reduces our risk of suffering from heart disease and strokes. The omega-3 fatty acids in avocados don’t just lower our triglyceride levels—also lowering our risk of developing heart disease—their anti-inflammatory properties can help counter the onset of arthritis.

Avocados pack more potassium—which can help regulate high blood pressure—than bananas do. Then there’s all that fiber, which moderates blood-sugar levels, guards against cardiovascular problems and diabetes, and makes quick work of going to the bathroom.

The antioxidants in avocados help fight cancer; the vitamin C protects against lung, pancreatic, and other types of cancer; and the vitamin E may reduce the risk of dying from bladder cancer.

Not only do avocados help us feel good, they also keep us looking good. Monounsaturated fats are crucial for maintaining moisture levels in the skin, helping repair damaged cells, reducing redness and irritation, and helping control acne and blackheads.

And file this under “seeing is believing”: Antioxidants like lutein, which avocados have in spades, protect our eyes from age-related macular degeneration and improve our vision.

Now that you’ve found the perfect ingredient for healthy living, here are a couple of suggestions for incorporating it into your meal plan: Since we’re feeling the summer heat, these recipes for Avocado Salad with Bell Pepper and Tomato and Avocado–Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream should do the trick.

Buena salud!