Avocado is called “the alligator pear” because of its distinct pear shape and leather-like green skin appearance, with its smooth, creamy and fleshy texture as well as the subtle, non-fruiting and non fatty-rich reward to be found inside its “outer shell.” Note that some variety of this fruit has purple skin and that both types are available in most parts of the world. Of course, the world knows this fruit by its more conventional name: the avocado!
Getting into it
It’s time to delve into the avocado’s origin, its culinary uses and most importantly, it’s amazing benefits because this one incredibly healthy fruit!
The avocado is a fruit from a tall, evergreen tree (Persea Americana) that can grow to 60 feet or more in height. This bountiful fruit tree originated in Central Mexico, which some of us may not know is a contiguous part of the North American continent. The name avocado evolved from the Aztec word “ahuacati,” named accordingly by the Aztecs because they believed the avocado to be a “fertility fruit.”
In the Philippines, the avocado was introduced to inevitable widespread cultivation by Spaniards who were travelling back and forth from Mexico during the Manila-Acapulco trade in the late 1800s, making the avocado, particularly that Haas purple skin variety, virtually indigenous to our country today.
Avocados grow robustly in tropical or Mediteranean types of climates, thus making it one of the rare fruits that can be cultivated both in the Philippines (and other tropical countries) and the United States (California and Florida, to be precise), for example. But as earlier expressed, this is a wonderfully healthy fruit that cultures have chosen to interpret with their own individual and unique culinary slants.
In many countries like the United States, Mexico (where it originated), Chile, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, to name a few, the avocado’s culinary usage is as a vegetable and is utilized to make dips, spreads and sauces, included in salads and even as a replacement for meat in sandwiches because of its renowned high fat content.
Avocados have a much higher fat content than any other fruit and it is this mistaken high fat perception that may in fact be keeping some from its beneficial consumption.
In other parts of the globe, on the other hand, like the Philippines, we consume avocados like the fruit it is meant to be. We mix it in ice cream, with sugar and milk, in milkshakes and other desserts. However, we are enjoying it today in unsweetened salads and a guacamole dip as well. Avocado consumption is also high on the preference table for vegetarians because of its monounsaturated fat profile avocados posses. Avocados have also become sought after as a topical facial cream because of its rejuvenating properties. It goes without saying, though that whatever or however the versatile avocado is consumed or utilized, it is one of the healthiest foods that humans can avail of in their never-ending quest for health promotion.
Health benefits found in avocado
As far as its health profile goes, lets first address some misplaced perceptions about the avocados high fat content. Yes, avocados have a high fat content but it is mostly the good fat, or monounsaturated fat, which assists in the absorption of key vitamins, mineral and nutrients. Avocado fats in fact contain Phytosterols that include beta-sitosterol, compesterol and stigmasterol, all of which support and regulate our inflammatory system.
Avocados are high in these two key carotenoid antioxidants, lycopene and beta-carotene as well as in other antioxidants such as alpha-carotene, lutien, neochrome, neoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin and violaxanthin. Avocados are replete with vitamins and minerals that include Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Patothenic acid, Folate, Vitamin C, E and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Avocado have more potassium than bananas (by equal weight or volume) and are very high in the dietary fiber content we all need for proper digestion.
All these awesome nutrients, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants combine to make the avocado the healthy powerhouse it is in the fight against most of the top threats to human mortality; arthritis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and aging. For those avocado lovers out there already consuming this wonderful fruit regularly, more power to you! Let’s help spread the good word on this incredible fruit for those who may have missed out on its health benefits.
Here’s a tip and a couple of recipes… Always peel avocados sparingly or scoop properly to keep the greenest flesh near the skin as part of what you consume… This is the part with the greatest concentration of those battling carotenoids. Now, have an avocado today!
- 8 oz. Of Salmon, thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 5 oz. Of arugula
- Radish, thinly sliced
For salad dressing:
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 3/4 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin oil
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, sugar, black pepper and olive oil, or shake all salad dressing ingredients in a bottle.
2. In a large bowl, toss together arugula and radishes with half of the salad dressing mix. Arrange salmon and avocado slice on top. Serve with remaining salad dressing.
Avocado Smoothie (Serve 2 people)
- 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 8 ice cubes
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.