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Avocado: Benefits, Nutrition Facts And Recipes

Avocado is a very healthy fruit with many nutrients and natural fats and oils. Learn more about its benefits and discover 4 easy-to-make recipes
Avocado is very popular nowadays because of its many health benefits 
 

 

Avocado (Persea americana) is the fruit of a tree species member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae, which originated in Central America 7.000 years ago. Avocados are consumed every day all over the world: the increase in demand in Europe and the U.S. and especially in China has increased the popularity and price of this food across the globe.

One of the main reasons for its success is its health benefits, as it is one of the few fruits rich in natural fats and low in sugars. Below we will examine the benefits of avocado, its nutritional facts, four easy-to-make recipes, and other uses of this superfruit. 

Origin 

The word "avocado" comes from the Nahuatl word " ahuacatl ." Nahuatl is the original language of Mexico and dates back to the 5th century. The term is widely used in most Latin American and Central American countries. On the other hand, in Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Uruguay, they use the term "avocado," and it has its origin in the Quechua language. 

In Spain, this superfood is called aguacate, and it's the main ingredient in the famous guacamole dipping sauce. 

Historically speaking, the earliest known written account of the avocado in Europe is that of Martín Fernández de Enciso in 1519 in his book, Suma De Geographia Que Trata De Todas Las Partidas Y Provincias Del Mundo. The first written record in English of the use of the word 'avocado' was by Hans Sloane, who coined the term in 1669 in an index of Jamaican plants.

Currently, the avocado tree is cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates, although it can be grown in other regions as long as the environment is frost-free and with little wind.

Health benefits of avocado

Avocado is an oval-shaped fruit that usually has a variable size (between 7 and 30 centimeters long and up to 15 centimeters wide). It has rough and green or dark green skin, and it is fleshy and light green on the inside. Depending on the level of ripeness, it is usually firm or unctuous. The seed is located in the center of the pulp, and it measures between 5 and 6 centimeters.

The fruit is sometimes called an avocado pear or alligator pear (due to its shape and the rough green skin). Avocados have become very popular because of the many benefits they bring to the body as well as the many avocado recipes and other uses of this fruit, from skin creams to hair masks.

While most fruit consists primarily of carbohydrate, avocado is high in healthy fats. Numerous studies have shown that it has powerful health benefits and we have listed the ten most important ones below:

  1. Avocado is incredibly nutritious 
  2. Contains more potassium than bananas
  3. Brimming with heart-healthy monosaturated fatty acids
  4. Packed full of fiber
  5. Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels 
  6. Loaded with antioxidants 
  7. May help prevent cancer
  8. May help relieve symptoms of arthritis
  9. Help reduce weight
  10. Helps stabilize blood sugar

 

Avocado salad is one of the many recipes of this fruit

 

Avocado nutrition facts

Avocados are one of the foods with more beneficial properties and nutrients than any others available to humans. They are considered one of the healthiest fruits thanks to being high in protein and fat while having low sugar levels. 

How many calories in an avocado? You may ask - the answer is 160 calories per 100 grams of raw avocado. You should keep in mind that if you are trying to lose weight, the ideal option would be to limit your intake to half of avocado per day.

The fat content is also higher than in other food; however, most of the fat in avocados is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). MUFAs are thought to lower your total cholesterol and your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increase your “good” cholesterol (HDL).

Other nutrients contained by this deliciously healthy fruit include: 

  • dietary fiber - reduces the risk of heart disease
  • folate - promotes healthy cell and tissue development
  • copper - together with iron, help form red blood cells
  • riboflavin - vitamin B2, helps with energy production
  • potassium - essential for optimal function of all cells
  • vitamin E - protects the body from free radicals, promotes healthy skin and hair
  • niacin - reduces cholesterol 
  • vitamin B6 - helps produce antibodies
  • vitamin C - promotes the growth and development of all cells 
  • thiamin - important role in energy metabolism 
  • iron - essential element for blood production 
  • carotenoids - lutein and zeaxanthin, plant pigments responsible with healthy eyesight 

Avocado oil is based mainly on monounsaturated fats, so it can help reduce cholesterol, dilate blood vessels so that blood flows better, as well as lose weight and protect the body against cardiovascular disease.

Other nutrients contained by the avocado oil are vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, fatty acids, proteins, minerals, and antioxidants.

 

Uses

The use of avocado is a practice that has been carried out for millennia in its original region -southern Mexico and Central America. Its health properties, as well as cosmetic functions, are giving this superfood more and more notoriety worldwide.

The avocado fruit has many antioxidant properties, due to which it is often used as a remedy against wrinkles and to bring shine to the hair, as well as to prevent the appearance of dandruff. Also, it is rich in folic acid, which is a vitamin recommended in the diet of pregnant women to minimize the risk of malformations in the fetus.

A mixture of olive oil and avocado is a remedy frequently used against cellulite, to moisturize the skin and as a hair mask. In some countries, avocado seeds are also used to treat dysentery and other problems of the gastrointestinal tract.

Avocado oil is an edible oil pressed from the fruit of the tree. As a food oil, it is used as cooking oil. It is also used for personal lubrication and in cosmetics, where it is valued for its regenerative and moisturizing properties.

This fruit favors both the repair and growth of muscle mass, which is why it is a food widely used by athletes, mainly due to its high concentration of minerals.

Avocado recipes

How to eat avocado? Apart from the world-famous guacamole, we also have dishes such as avocado salad, avocado pasta or rice, soups and sushi. Other delicious recipes include avocado stuffed with smoked salmon, avocado smoothie and avocado dressing. 

When preparing avocado dishes, the biggest struggle is to find ripe fruit; sadly, however, that is not always the case when we visit the food market. So then, the most crucial question is "How to ripen an avocado?". 

Avocados do not ripen on the tree; they ripen or “soften” after they have been harvested. To speed up the avocado ripening process try placing unripe avocados in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana for two to three days until they are ripe. We do not recommend any other method of ripening as the fruit will taste unripe and won't have the creaminess or buttery, nutty flavor we all know and love. 

We have selected 4 of the easiest recipes that you can enjoy with your friends and family and be the star of any dinner party.

1. Just an avocado

For avocado enthusiasts– eating a half of a plain avocado sprinkled with lemon or lime juice or your favorite seasoning is all you need. Try a little paprika, cayenne pepper or balsamic vinegar for an added twist.

2. Avocado toast

This simple yet effective recipe is useful whenever you want a healthy snack or when you want to prepare a quick appetizer.

Toast the piece of bread until golden brown. Next, remove the avocado flesh and put into a medium bowl and mash it with a fork and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper as needed and serve on toast. 

3. Guacamole dip 

For this tasty and fast guacamole recipe you will need the following:

  • ½ a small red onion
  • 1-2 fresh red chilies
  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander
  • 6 ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 2 limes
  • extra virgin olive oil

First, peel the onion and deseed 1chilii, then roughly chop it all on a large board.

Next, destone the avocados and scoop the flesh onto the board and start chopping it all together until fine and well combined.

After this, roughly chop the coriander leaves and add the tomatoes, then continue cutting it altogether.

Add the juice from 1 lime and 1 tablespoon of oil, then season to taste with sea salt, black pepper, and more lime juice, if needed.

Finally, deseed, chop and scatter over the remaining chili if you like more of a kick. 

4. Avocado salad

Salads are an easy, healthy and inexpensive way of putting together a meal. Enjoyed as a snack or a meal in itself, avocado salads are the game-changing dishes of this decade. To make a quick and straightforward avocado tomato salad, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • 1/4 tsp. cumin

  • Kosher salt  

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 avocados, cubed

  • 1 pt. cherry tomatoes halved

  • 1 small cucumber, sliced into half moons

  • 1/3 c. corn

  • 1 jalepeño, minced (optional)

  • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. 

Next, in a large serving bowl, combine avocados, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, jalapeño, and cilantro. Gently toss with dressing and serve immediately. 

How to grow avocado

The annual production of avocado makes up millions of tons worldwide. Mexico is the main producer of this fruit, contributing up to 30% of world production, followed by the Dominican Republic, Peru, Indonesia, and Colombia.

Avocados need to be planted in permeable and deep soils that do not have the presence of limestone or chlorides. Excessive humidity negatively affects the plant, so the crop should be grown in areas that cannot flood. It is not proper for frost zones, as low temperatures can affect negatively.

If you grow your tree from an avocado pit, it won't bear fruit until it's at least 10 years old, and you may have to wait up to 15 years. On the other hand, if you planted a tree from a nursery or garden center, the tree should begin to produce a crop after three or four years. 

The video below explains how to correctly plant an avocado tree and establish a healthy and productive orchard.

 

References: 

Green, J. (2918), How to Make an Avocado Tree Bear Fruit

Miyashiro, L. (2018), Best avocado recipes

Oliver, J. (2006), Classic guacamole 

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