Avocados – What a Diverse Fruit!

Avocados – What a Diverse Fruit!

Let’s take a look at the amazing avocado. People have enjoyed avocados for more than 500 years, and they are becoming increasingly popular in today’s diet. These remarkable little fruits not only offer extraordinary nutrition, they also deliver many additional health benefits. Packed full of vitamins and minerals, avocados improve a wide variety of health conditions. On top of all of these other pluses, they taste good!

The origin of the word avocado is in a South American Indian language, but the definition has been translated over the years in English to mean “alligator pear.” Contrary to the common misconception that an avocado is a vegetable, it is actually a fruit that is a member of the berry family. Avocados are native to regions as far north as Mexico and to northern South America. They are typically harvested when they reach full maturity and do not ripen until after they are picked. The variety grown most commonly in the US is the Hass avocado, which is the only type produced year-round. Hass avocados have a blackish-green skin with a black pebbly texture and come from California.

Besides being delicious, avocados contain about 20 vitamins and minerals, including carotenoids and lutein, which benefit eye health. They have also been shown to have a positive impact on high cholesterol due to their natural plant sterol composition. Similar to olive oil, they contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are far healthier than the saturated fats that are so detrimental to fitness. Because they are among the few fruits that contain these good fats, the American Heart Association has actually endorsed the inclusion of avocados in the diet. Did you know that the brain is roughly 60% fat? Without good fats, none of us would be here today! Further, without the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, the body cannot absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Avocados offer health advantages to people with heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and lung cancer and may help prevent strokes. They are superior sources of vitamins A, B, C, E, K, fiber, and potassium. When substituted for saturated fats, they can positively impact the outcome for people whose goal is weight reduction. Although more research is needed, results of one study conducted at UCLA indicate that an extract of avocado may even curb the growth of some prostate cancer cells. Another study showed that the Vitamin E content in avocados can help build hormones that can increase libido.

Besides their tremendous value nutritionally, avocados offer a long list of additional bonuses. They are among the first fruits a baby can ingest due to their natural softness and a smart first dietary addition because they offer such excellent nourishment. Avocado is used in cosmetics as a general moisturizer and outstanding natural sunscreen as well as providing relief after sunburn. The high moisture content is also beneficial to individuals with dry scalp and skin, eczema, or psoriasis. Because of their attractive scent, massage therapists frequently use avocado oils as a form of aromatherapy.

Beyond its unmistakable health benefits, an avocado is a tasty and versatile fruit that is used in many cuisines and favorite dishes, the most common of which is probably the ever-popular party addition: guacamole! Other appetizing recipes include dips, salsa, and salads EUR­ and have you tried an avocado-pineapple smoothie? Avocado nicely complements crab, zucchini, and mushrooms as well.

To sum up: avocados are exceptionally nutritious, have an interesting and appealing flavor, are easy to prepare, and are one of nature’s best sources of good dietary fat. They are relatively inexpensive, abundant, and offer a wide range of health advantages. Next time you’re in the produce department, be sure to pick up a couple of these nutritional gems. If you are not already using them often, adding avocados to your menus is sure to inspire your creativity in the kitchen and enhance your well-being!