How to choose: Perfectly ripe avocados yield ever so slightly to gentle pressure. Haas avocados have pebbly, nearly black skin; larger Fuerte avocados feature a smooth, bright green cover. To speed ripening, seal in a paper bag with a banana. Store at room temperature.

Preparation tips: These buttery fruits become bitter when cooked. Instead, purée into cold (or warm) soups, fold into shrimp salad with tomatoes and mint, or mash and use as a sandwich spread.

Health benefits: Loaded with healthy fats, potassium, and folate, luscious avocados also boast a reputation as a natural aphrodisiac.

—Elisa Bosley

Almost Guacamole Yogurt Dip
(Makes about 3 cups)

1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 cup nonfat sour cream
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and quartered
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño pepper
Salt and pepper (optional)

1. For best results, strain yogurt: Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place in a medium bowl. Place yogurt on cheesecloth, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

2. Combine strained yogurt, sour cream, and avocados in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients. Purée until smooth. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to blend flavors.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1/4 cup):
Calories: 77 calories
% fat calories: 56
Fat: 5g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Protein: 3g
Carbohydrate: 6g
Fiber: 3g
Sodium: 73mg

Recipe provided by James Rouse, ND, the creator of Optimum Wellness and The Fit Kitchen, seen weekly on NBC’s KUSA television news.