The avocado (Persea americana), aguacate (Spanish), butter pear or alligator pear, is a tree native to the Caribbean, Mexico, South America and Central America, classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel. The name “avocado” also refers to the fruit (technically a large berry that contains a large seed) of the tree which may be egg-shaped or spherical.
Avocados are a commercially valuable fruit and are cultivated in tropical climates throughout the world (and some temperate ones, such as California), producing a green-skinned, pear-shaped fruit that ripens after harvesting. Trees are partially self-pollinating and often are propagated through grafting to maintain a predictable quality and quantity of the fruit.
P. americana, or the avocado, originated in the state of Puebla, Mexico. The oldest evidence of avocado use was found in a cave located in Coxcatlán, Puebla, Mexico that dates to around 10,000 years BCE.
The word ‘avocado’ comes from the Nahuatl word ahuacatl (‘testicle’, a reference to the shape of the fruit). Avocados were known by the Aztecs as ‘the fertility fruit’.
The subtropical species needs a climate without frost and with little wind. High winds reduce the humidity, dehydrate the flowers, and affect pollination. In particular, the West Indian type requires humidity and a tropical climate which is important for flowering. When even a mild frost occurs, premature fruit drop may occur, although the Hass cultivar can tolerate temperatures down to −1°C. The trees also need well-aerated soils, ideally more than 1 m deep.
An average avocado tree produces about 120 avocados annually. Commercial orchards produce an average of 7 tonnes per hectare each year, with some orchards achieving 20 tonnes per hectare.
High avocado intake has been shown to have an effect on blood serum cholesterol levels. Specifically, after a seven-day diet rich in avocados, hypercholesterolemia patients showed a 17% decrease in total serum cholesterol levels. These subjects also showed a 22% decrease in both LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels and 11% increase in HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Additionally a Japanese team synthesised the four chiral components and identified (2R, 4R)-16-heptadecene-1, 2, 4-triol as the natural antibacterial component.
The fruit has a markedly higher fat content than most other fruit, mostly monounsaturated fat, and as such serves as an important staple in the diet of various groups where access to other fatty foods (high-fat meats and fish, dairy, etc) is limited.
The avocado is very popular in vegetarian cuisine, making an excellent substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads because of its high fat content.
-Contains large amounts of unsaturated fats, Potassium, Phosphorus, Vitamins B1, B2, and B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Pantoten acid and vegetal fibers.
-Helps lower bad cholesterol and high blood pressure.
-Season: available all year long thanks to high import/export.
-Choose green hard specimens if you have the time to let them ripen to your taste. As soon as it is ripened keep in the fridge, but consume as soon as possible.
-When choosing ripe specimens, choose firm and plentiful. Loose space under the skin is a bad sign.
-When combined with apple or lemon, help lower blood cholesterol
-When combined with asparaguses, helps combat skin ageing.
-Generally helps combat bad cholesterol and ageing.
Avocadoes of course are great raw or mashed in puddings, dips, sauces and drinks for instance, but they are also great cooked!
They can deep-fried when unripe (see above picture!).
They can be stir-fried in a vegan recipe.
They are great in a vegan gazpacho!
And beautiful stir-fried with chicken!
And don’t forget all the possible combinations as sushi!
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