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The Amazing Truth About Avocados

Updated on February 20, 2017
JohnMello profile image

JohnMello is a writer, composer, musician and the author of books for children and adults.

An Avocado Tree

Avocado tree (Persea americana)
Avocado tree (Persea americana) | Source

Avocado's Origins

Avocados are native to Central and South America where they have been cultivated for over 10,000 years.

Another name for the avocado is the alligator pear, so-called because of its pear shape and the alligator-like texture of its skin.

The Aztec word for avocado was ahuacatl, which means "testicle tree". A look at the picture below (avocado on a tree) might help throw some light on this rather graphic description.

Avocados have a reputation for being fatty or even fattening. That’s true on one level, but it’s only part of the story.

Did you know that avocados are fruits, and not vegetables? According to the University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, the avocado is actually a single-seeded berry of the fleshy (as opposed to dry) variety.

Here are a few more facts that might surprise you.

Avocados are nutrient rich, packed with nearly 20 minerals and vitamins guaranteed to make staying healthy a lot easier. They are fatty, it's true, but with the right kind of "healthy" fat. 3 slices of avocado (roughly one ounce) contain 50 calories but less than 5 grams of fat, making them an indispensable part of any calorie-controlled diet.

An avocado cut in half - how tempting!
An avocado cut in half - how tempting! | Source

Avocados are Loaded with Potassium

Potassium is a mineral noted for its ability to protect against circulatory diseases. It regulates blood pressure and lessens the likelihood of heart disease or stroke. Just one avocado contains more potassium than a medium-sized banana - 50 per cent more - and considerably less sugar. These super foods also provide healthy amounts of vitamins C, E, B6 and K, as well as iron, copper, and dietary fiber.

Avocados make a tasty addition to a healthy salad
Avocados make a tasty addition to a healthy salad | Source

Fast Fact about Folate

The word "folate" comes from the Latin word folium, which means leaf. You can see how similar the word is to foliage, which can help identify sources of the vitamin, found in abundance in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and asparagus.

Avocados are Full of Folate

Folate or folic acid is a type of B vitamin that works to enable the body to produce red blood cells. Folate deficiencies are common in older people, particularly those aged 75 and above, while a lack of folate during pregnancy can result in babies being born with birth defects.

Folate helps with cell growth and reproduction and is also beneficial for maintaining a healthy heart. Found in beans and green leafy vegetables, you can get about one quarter of your RDA of folate from just one large avocado.

Avocados contain carotenoid lutein, useful for maintaining healthy eyesight
Avocados contain carotenoid lutein, useful for maintaining healthy eyesight | Source

Avocados Contain Healthy Fats

What are "healthy" fats? They're the unsaturated fats that have been scientifically proved to contribute to a strong heart and healthy cardiovascular system. Avocados are rich in mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, both of which help your body make the most of fat-soluble nutrients.

Saturated fats, on the other hand, are known to lead to obesity and heart disease, which is why most of the world's government health departments recommend limiting or reducing their intake. Substituting mono-unsaturated fats for the saturated variety is also believed to boost energy and reduce irritability.

As you might suspect, moderation is the only sensible approach. Avocado IS good for you, but that doesn’t mean you should eat nothing but avocado. A balanced diet is always the practical solution to make sure you get all the nutrition you need to stay fit and healthy.

Avocado cross-section hinting at the luscious fruity goodness inside
Avocado cross-section hinting at the luscious fruity goodness inside | Source

Avocados are Cholesterol & Sodium Free

Cholesterol is a naturally occurring body fat which is important for cell structure, making hormones, and providing energy. Too much cholesterol in the blood can cause hardening and narrowing of the arteries, conditions which will ultimately lead to a whole host of illnesses and diseases.

Avocados are completely free of cholesterol and sodium, and the unsaturated fats contained in the fruit aid in the growth and development of the brain and nervous system. So these unassuming fruits will keep your arteries clear, keep your brain working well, and stop you from ingesting excessive amounts of salt that can wreak havoc with your health.

Avocados are fruit that grow on trees and ripen after being harvested
Avocados are fruit that grow on trees and ripen after being harvested | Source

What's In An Avocado?

Nutrient
Benefits
Amount per 1-oz Serving
Dietary fiber
Makes you feel full, promotes healthy laxation, and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
2 g
Folate (folic acid)
Needed to make normal red blood cells and prevent anemia.
27 mcg
Iron
Boosts energy levels to combat fatigue and regulate body temperatures.
0.2 mg
Magnesium
Assists with muscle control, energy distribution, and protein production.
9 mg
Potassium
Regulates blood pressure and lowers the risk of bone loss.
150 mg

As well as the minerals listed above, avocados are also packed with a whole bunch of vitamins, such as:

  • Niacin (Vitamin B3) - for converting food to energy and helping digestive system and nerves function.
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) - for releasing energy from carbohydrates and red blood cell production.
  • Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) - essential for growth, for breaking down and using food, and for production of hormones and cholesterol.
  • Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) - helps the body make antibodies to fight off disease and also keeps blood sugar levels stable.
  • Thiamin (Vitamin B1) - helps convert carbohydrates into energy and is essential for the functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system.
  • Vitamin E - boosts the immune system and opens up blood vessels to prevent clotting.
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) - vital for maintaining the condition of skin, bones, and connective tissue. It also promotes healing and helps your body absorb iron.
  • Vitamin K - keeps bones and tissues healthy and makes proteins for normal blood clotting.

Absolutely Avocados
Absolutely Avocados

75 to-die-for recipes like Crab and Avocado Quesadilla and Avocado and Tuna Ceviche

 

What Makes Avocados So Amazing

As well as being nutrient dense and filled with gorgeous goodness, avocado is one of the most versatile and user-friendly foods on the planet. Here are some more fabulous facts about this fantastic fruit you may not be aware of:

  • It makes up one of your 5-a-day (fruit) - or 8-a-day, depending on changing government guidelines
  • It works equally well in savory or sweet dishes
  • It packs any recipe with fabulous flavor
  • It makes an ideal first fruit for babies
  • It can be used as a trendy serving dish when cut in half
  • It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner
  • It makes dressings and smoothies rich and creamy, but without adding fat or sugar
  • It's a great vegetarian substitute for animal fats
  • It can be eaten with just a spoon
  • It can be eaten as a dip OR a dipper
  • It complements almost every style of cuisine, from Mexican to Asian
  • It can be eaten raw OR baked, grilled, or fried
  • It can be part of a starter, salad, main course, dessert, smoothie, Popsicle, or practically any other way you can think of eating it

Avocados are at the heart of any decent guacamole
Avocados are at the heart of any decent guacamole | Source

Avocados were considered to be symbols of love and fertility by the Aztecs. This could be due to the fact that the fruit grows in pairs on the tree and that one avocado tree needs another avocado tree nearby to propagate.

A pair of avocados growing on a tree
A pair of avocados growing on a tree | Source

Avocado Recipes

There are plenty of easy and interesting recipes online to turn an ordinary avocado into a spectacular meal. One of the best sites is AvocadoCentral, which you can visit by following this link. The recipe for Raspberry Avocado Salad is positively divine.

To get kids (or fussy grown-ups) to eat more avocado, try making an avocado popsicle. Add half an avocado, a dash of lime juice, and 2 tablespoons of honey to 1 cup of milk, and then freeze in the shape of your choice.

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    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      I never realized how much potassium avocados have. One of my favorite treats is an avocado halved with the juice of a lemon. Simply delicious. Interesting hub.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      What a great promotion of avocados. I have always loved them, so it is good to see all the good ways they help us. Good Job! Voted up and awesome and shared.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 3 years ago from New Jersey

      I used to love eating avocados. But now I mostly eat for my blood type, and that means avocados are out. Very informative and detailed article!

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 3 years ago from England

      Thanks StephanieBCrosby, rebeccamealey, and Glimmer Twin Fan for your kind remarks and sharing!

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 3 years ago from Virginia

      I love avacados on my blt's and tacos, so it's good to know I'm getting something healthy out of these meals! Great hub, voted up and awesome!

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 3 years ago from England

      Thanks weestro ... appreciate it!

    • europewalker profile image

      europewalker 3 years ago

      I love avocados and eat them quite often. Voted up and useful.

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 3 years ago from England

      Thanks europewalker!

    • ziyena profile image

      ziyena 3 years ago from Southern Colorado

      Are you kidding me?

      Absolutely love avacados!

      This hub has got to be the best resource on the hub on this subject. Great job! Voting UP

      Z

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 3 years ago from England

      Thanks ziyena for sharing and reading! Glad you liked it.

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 2 years ago from Oz

      Lately I've been having an avocado with almost every meal. They are the perfect compliment to many dishes with a coolness and texture that soothes the palate. Wonderful article you'v e written on this perfect food. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 2 years ago from England

      Thanks parrster... glad you liked it.

    • Archa Ghodge profile image

      Archa 2 years ago from India

      Avocado juice is just so tasty but I was quite unaware of so many benefits of this fruit. Wonderful article.

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 2 years ago from England

      Thanks Archa Ghodge... glad you enjoyed it!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      You can grow your own avocado tree by poking two toothpicks in the stone and suspending it over a glass of water so that just the base is in the water - they grow quite fast...the bad news is that it takes 7 years for an avocado tree to bear fruit.

      We used to grow them when I lived in Africa as a child. Not sure they would ever bear fruit in cooler climates.

      I had just finished eating a Haas avocado for my late breakfast when I came across your article, so had to read it - I feel full of nourishment and virtue now!!

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 2 years ago from England

      Thanks Gloriousconfusion. Don't see many avocado trees in Yorkshire :)

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 2 years ago from England

      Thanks Gloriousconfusion. Don't see many avocado trees in Yorkshire :)

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 23 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub, John. I never had avocados before. Do they really taste good, like as a spread for a sandwich? Voted up for useful!

    • JohnMello profile image
      Author

      JohnMello 23 months ago from England

      Not bad if you mix in a bit of mayo... low fat, of course :)

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 23 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Okay. I would have to give it a try.

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