The avocado is colloquially known as the Alligator Pear, reflecting its shape and the leather-like appearance of its skin. Avocado is derived from the Aztec word 'ahuacatl.'
Avocados are the fruit from the Persea Americana, a tall evergreen tree that can grow up to 65 feet in height. There are dozens of varieties of avocadoes, which fall into three main categories-Mexican, Guatemalean, and West Indian-which differ in their size, appearance, quality and susceptibility to cold. The most popular type of avocado in the United States is the Hass variety, which has rugged, pebbly brown-black skin. Another common type of avocado is the Fuerte, which is larger than the Hass and has smooth, dark green skin and a more defined pear shape.
Avocados vary in weight from 8 ounces to 3 pounds depending upon the variety. The edible portion of the avocado is its yellow-green flesh, which has a luscious, buttery consistency and a subtle nutty flavor. The skin and pit are inedible.
Health Benefits of Avocado
Prostate Cancer Prevention
Avocados have been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.
Oral Cancer Defense
Research has shown that certain compounds in avocados are able to seek out
pre-cancerous and cancerous oral cancer cells and destroy them without harming
Breast Cancer Protection
Avocado, like olive oil, is high in oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent
breast cancer in numerous studies.
Avocados have more of the carotenoid lutein than any other commonly consumed
fruit. Lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts, two disabling
age-related eye diseases.
Avocados are high in beta-sitosterol, a compound that has been shown to lower
cholesterol levels. In one study, 45 volunteers experienced an average drop in
cholesterol of 17% after eating avocados for only one week.
One cup of avocado has 23% of the recommended daily value of folate. Studies
show that people who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower incidence of
heart disease than those who don't. The vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and
glutathione in avocado are also great for your heart.
The high levels of folate in avocado are also protective against strokes. People
who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower risk of stroke than those who
Better Nutrient Absorption
Research has found that certain nutrients are absorbed better when eaten with
avocado. In one study, when participants ate a salad containing avocados, they
absorbed five times the amount of carotenoids (a group of nutrients that
includes lycopene and beta carotene) than those who didn't include avocados.
Avocados are an excellent source of glutathione, an important antioxidant that
researchers say is important in preventing aging, cancer, and heart disease.
Vitamin E Powerhouse
Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that
protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health.