Avocado, also known as alligator pear, is native to Mexico but grows in subtropical and tropical regions around the world. Avocado is a pear-shaped fruit that contains a single seed and has a non-edible skin. It may have the shape of a sphere or egg. It is bright green in color, but the Hass variety is purple-colored. The avocado flesh is smooth, creamy and yellow or yellowish-green with a mild taste.
Avocados are rich in vitamins and minerals and contain healthy fats. They are used in salads, sandwich fillings, smoothies, dips such as the guacamole or sprinkled with salt and eaten right out of the skin.
Some Interesting Facts about Avocados
- Generally, supermarkets sell small or medium sized avocados, but avocados can be as long as 8 inches and can weigh between 3 and 35 oz.
- Consumption of avocados in the US has increased steadily over time and from the years 2000-2016, it has tripled to stand at 8 pounds per capita.
- Mexico is the world’s largest producer of avocados, accounting for 45% of the world’s avocado supply.
- The liquid from avocado seeds was used as ink by conquistadors.
Let us now look at some health benefits of avocados.
Avocados contain over 20 different minerals and vitamins. They are a rich source for vitamin E and vitamin B as well as mineral like potassium, copper and iron. As avocados are densely packed with nutrients, they are regarded as a superfood.
Avocados are one of those unique fruits that act as “nutrient boosters”. This means they help the body in absorption of vitamins and minerals. Avocados aid in absorbing vitamins K, E, A and D.
Contain Healthy Fats
The caloric content of avocados comes from fats. Luckily, these are healthy fats (monounsaturated fats). That means they are good for your body and even aid in lowering cholesterol levels. Apart from this, the oleic acid present in avocados also reduces inflammation.
Regulate Blood Pressure
According to studies, higher intake of potassium helps in regulating blood pressure. This is further helpful in avoiding heart attacks and heart strokes. Avocados contain high amounts of potassium and thus including them in your diet can help maintain your blood pressure.
Good Source of Fiber
Avocados are rich in fiber. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, Americans need to increase their fiber intake. Fiber from natural food sources may be helpful in overcoming obesity, diabetes and heart diseases. In addition, it promotes gut health and aids in digestion. 20% of the DV of fiber can be obtained from one-half of an avocado. To read more about dietary fiber, click here.
Improve Eye Health
Antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin play a vital role in maintaining eye health and are found in avocados. Regular consumption of avocados not only improve your eye health but also protect your eyes from diseases such as cataracts. Sweet potato is another vegetable that is good for eye health.
Relief from Arthritis Pain
Arthritis is a condition in which joints of the body swell and become stiff. It is a lifelong condition that is very painful. The pain in the joints can be relieved by using avocado oil in combination with soybean oil.
Help in Losing Weight
Avocados have a high caloric content, yet they can be helpful in losing weight. The reason is that they also have a high fiber content and are very filling. People who eat avocados feel satiated and are likely not to eat again for 5 hours. Hence, eating avocados can help reduce weight over time. If you are looking for other options for weight loss, read this.
According to USDA, 100 grams of avocado (1/2 avocado) contains:
- Calories: 160
- Total Carbohydrate: 3% of Daily Value (DV)
- Dietary fiber: 28% of DV
- Cholesterol: 0% of DV
- Total Fat: 23% of DV
- Protein: 4% of DV
- Potassium: 13% of DV
- Vitamin C: 16% of DV
- Vitamin B-6: 15% of DV
- Vitamin A: 2% of DV
- Magnesium: 7% of DV
Checking for Ripeness in Avocados:
Most avocados available at supermarkets are unripe and require some days sitting at your shelf before they can be eaten. Green varieties of avocados turn purple when they ripen, but the color change is not very apparent in the purple variety of avocados. So, a better way of checking for ripeness in avocados is to apply a gentle pressure and see if they yield or not. Ripe avocados are soft to the touch and can be refrigerated for a day or two.
If your avocados are hard and stiff, you can store them in a paper bag along with a banana to quicken the ripening process. Alternatively, unripe avocados can be kept in a refrigerator to prolong the ripening process.
To summarize, avocados are densely packed with mineral and vitamins, and contain healthy fats. They contribute towards keeping your heart healthy, making weight loss easier and are also a treat to your taste buds.