What do you know about avocados, other than how delicious they are in guacamole? The avocado is a healthy little fruit that is actually quite interesting. Even the fact that it’s a fruit might surprise you.
The following avocado facts let you in on a few secrets and they give you interesting information to share on National Avocado Day this July 31st.
Avocados grow from a Persea Americana, otherwise known as an avocado tree. Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Columbia are the three biggest avocado producing countries in the world, and they can be found in all tropical and Mediterranean climates.
The avocado is a fruit, more specifically, it’s a berry with the fleshy fruit being produced around a single seed. While there are 1,062 types of avocados, it is the Hass avocado that is the most popular and widely used avocado.
The nickname of the avocado is alligator pear, which seems quite logical when you look at this fruit. While avocados have been around a very long time, it’s only recently that they’ve become very trendy, especially on toast.
1. History of the Avocado
Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that wild avocados were around in 8000 B.C. and played a role in the diets of people living in central Mexico. No surprise since this food grows in abundance there.
It appears that the avocado tree was domesticated around 3000 B.C. by the Mesoamerican tribes like the Inca, the Olmec, and the Maya. These cultures revered the avocado and believed it not only provided sustenance but that it possessed some mythological powers.
The avocado was introduced to explorers in the 16th century, and it began its trek across the globe beginning in Central and South America and heading into Europe and other countries.
The avocado was officially first introduced to the United States in 1833 by Henry Perrine. Perrine was a noted physician and a horticulturist. Working for the United States Consul in Campeche, Mexico, Perrine became interested in tropical plants. He campaigned to begin growing many of them, including the avocado, in Florida.
It took another hundred-plus years before the avocado became a mainstream food in the United States, but by the 1950s most people knew what an avocado was.
Its popularity waxed and waned in the public eye, as it was considered an aphrodisiac, which made it desirable by some and shunned by others. It also suffered in the 1980s when the low-fat fad was raging.
Today, it’s seen as a superfood and for good reason.
2. Avocados Are Packed With Nutrients
While avocados contain the most protein and fiber of any fruit, their nutritional benefits don’t start and stop there. There are more than 20 different vitamins and minerals in each avocado, some of the most abundant ones include:
♦ Vitamin K
♦ Vitamin C
♦ Vitamin B5
♦ Vitamin B6
♦ Vitamin E
In smaller amounts, you’ll also find magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and vitamins A, B1, B2, and B3.
While avocados sometimes still get a bad rap for their fat content, they do not contain any cholesterol, and they are low in saturated fats. The fats in an avocado are mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are considered the “good” fats.
3. Speaking of Avocados and Fats
About 77 percent of the calories in avocado comes from fat, making it one of the fattiest plant foods around. But this shouldn’t scare you away. Most of the fat in an avocado is a monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid. This same fat is found in olive oil, and it’s believed to have some powerful health benefits.
Avocados are proven to fight inflammation, which is becoming a hot button topic in chronic disease. Inflammation plays a role in atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome. It’s also believed that oleic acid has a positive effect on genes that are linked to cancer.
4. Fiber Content in Avocados
As mentioned above, avocados have more fiber than other fruits. About 25 percent of the fiber in avocados is soluble, and 75 percent of the fibers are insoluble. None of the fiber that you eat is actually digestible by the body, so it passes through.
Soluble fiber develops a gel-like consistency and can prevent blood sugar spikes, which suggests an association with reduced diabetes risk. Taking that a step further, it also appears to have some metabolic effects that are beneficial. Soluble fiber is also known to fuel the good bacteria in your gut to promote healthy digestion.
Insoluble fiber does not blend with water and stays largely intact in the body. Its main function is to make you feel full for longer, and it bulks up your stool for healthy passage of waste through the body.
5. Heart-Healthy Avocado
The avocado is often cited for its heart health benefits. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world, and several blood markers are key indicators of the potential for heart disease. Those markers include; cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammatory markers, and blood pressure.
Avocados have been studied in relation to these blood markers for heart disease, and the following was found:
♦ Reduction in total cholesterol levels
♦ Up to a 20 percent reduction in blood triglycerides
♦ Up to 22 percent reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol
♦ Increase in HDL (good) cholesterol by up to 11 percent
In addition, the noted inflammatory effects of avocados most likely play a role in its heart health reputation.
6. Avocados Are a Beauty Agent
Avocados have long been touted as a beauty aid and an anti-aging miracle. The oil is often found in cosmetics, and some people like to use the flesh itself for hair and skin health.
Some of the benefits you may find in avocados include:
♦ Frizzy hair control
♦ Revitalizes dull and tired-looking skin
♦ Plumps skin to reduce wrinkles
♦ Combats dandruff
♦ Moisturizes skin and nails
♦ Soothes sunburns and repairs sun-damaged skin
♦ Clears your mouth of bacteria and food particles
The best part is that you can eat avocados to get some of these benefits, so it’s a delicious way to look amazing.
Waking Up To Wellness
Avocados have a long history of being a food source that is associated with health benefits, but it’s only rather recently that people in the United States have given them the credit they deserve.
Avocados are a fruit loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals, which makes them a nutrient-rich food that can boost your health in many different ways. Some of their key health benefits include reducing inflammation, fighting heart disease and cancer, and serving to protect individuals from developing diabetes.
Avocados are also noted for their anti-aging and beauty-boosting abilities. The moisture and healthy fats in avocados play a big role in keeping your nails, hair, and skin looking radiant and youthful.