The origin and health benefits of the avocado, a superfood full of nutrients
Posted Aug 24 2008 10:48pm
Avocado tree (picture Wikipedia.org)
Avocado’s have been cultivated for thousands of years. The name avocado came from the Spanish explorers, who couldn’t pronounce the Aztec name. The Spanish called it ahuacate, leading to the name we know it as today. The English, living in Jamaica during the 15th century, called the avocado an alligator pear. It is believed, because they compare the skin of the fruit to that of an alligator.
Avocado’s were first grown in America in the mid 18 hundreds, in California and Florida. They are now widely grown all over the world, but flourish in warm climates, such as the Mediterranean and South America. Today Mexico is the world’s largest producer.
Monounsaturated fat in the avocado is one of its greatest nutritional values. The olive is the only other fruit, with a comparable amount of this healthy fat, which is thought to lower cholesterol. Avocado’s have the highest protein content of any fruit and provide protein, fat and carbohydrate all in one superfood. In addition they contain vitamin E and fiber, which are good for clear skin and healthy digestion. They are also a good source of the anti-oxidant beta-carotene, helping to protect against heart disease and cancers. The pulp in avocado has both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, which help boost resistance to disease. It also contains fluorine, which is said to be vital for maintaining a strong immune system.
Dieters tend to shun away from avocado’s as they are highly calorific, but at just 150 calories for one half it contains more nutrients and protein content than any other fruit with the same calorific amount.
Store avocado’s in a cool, dry place until they are ripe. It is possible to tell this by the flesh feeling firm, yet yielding when gently squeezed. To speed up the ripening process, place them in a brown paper bag with an apple overnight. With several varieties to chose from, the avocado is a superfood, that can be found all year round.
Sliced avocado with mozzarella (in the raw food diet, we prefer something else ;-)) and tomato makes a delicious tricolore salad.
Note from Annet: I use avocado in salads, on dehydrated crackers or in smoothies. Especially in smoothies they are a great substitute for milk and yoghurt.