A Superfood – The Avocado
Did you know that there are over 100 different types of avocados and that they are said to have originated in Mexico? Also, the ahuacatl–the Aztec word for avocado–is not a vegetable, though we tend to use it as such? It is really a fruit.
Avocados are plentiful and grow all along Central and South America as well as throughout the Caribbean Islands. The first U.S. avocado tree was planted in Florida in the early 1800’s. Today, it’s California that leads the country’s production of a wide variety of the fruit, placing the U.S. among the top three producers worldwide. One of the more popular varieties is the Hass avocado with consumption now averaging in the billions, here in the U.S. alone.
The popularization of the avocado in today’s foodie culture is due in large part to a highly successful marketing campaign sponsored by the growers. Foodies love avocados because they are a wonderful substitute for meat in a sandwich or in salads, or any variety of new ways the fruit is being used to add taste to various dishes.
As much as this pear-shaped fruit has now become an important agricultural commodity in this country, its true value is in the health benefits it delivers. You see, the avocado, as one article describes it, is a nutritional powerhouse. The avocado is jam packed, full of:
- Good Fat (which helps to lower bad cholesterol)
- Vitamins K, B6, B5, B9, C and E
- Potassium (more than in bananas)
Additionally, the avocado is rich in fiber, low in sugar and high in protein. Early studies reveal that the avocado may actually reduce the risk of diabetes, strokes, coronary artery disease and cancer. Additionally, it seems the avocado’s high levels of monounsaturated fats, phytosterols, antioxidants and carotenoids help in reducing the inflammation affiliated with arthritis. As well, these carotenoids are thought to protect against eye diseases such as cataracts and degenerative eye disease.
The avocado has been elevated to “superfood” status because of the antioxidants, amino acids and essential oils it contains, which are said to do everything from repairing damaged hair, moisturizing dry skin, treating sunburns and minimizing wrinkles, in addition to all of the ways it can prevent or reduce certain health issues. Add to that the fact that it tastes good too and you could in fact say that the avocado is one of nature’s most perfect products.
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References: What’s Cooking America, Agricultural Marketing Research Center, Hass Avocado Board, Medical News Today, Huffington Post, www.Medical.nyu.edu, Health Magazine.
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