Avocado is an ingredient that has changed the world. Growing up in Mexico avocados were plentiful throughout the year. However, when I lived in the U.S. I really learned to appreciate them. Up north avocados are very expensive and they never tasted like the ones I had when I was growing up. Now that I’m back in Mexico I don’t miss any opportunity to eat a delicious avocado.
For the next couple of weeks, avocado will be the featured ingredient in What’s Cooking, Mexico? But first, here are some interesting facts about this delicious ingredient that you probably didn’t know.
1 – Avocado is a fruit
More specifically, avocado is a large berry with a single seed. The avocado tree is classified as a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae. Avocado is further classified as fleshy as opposed to a dry fruit, and a berry rather than a drupe, which has tough pits or stones, like peaches.
2 – Avocado is native to Mexico
Avocado trees were first found in southern Mexico and Central America. Around 8,000 years ago humans started consuming and domesticating avocados. The word aguacate in Spanish, comes from the Nahuatl ahuacatl, that means testicle; most likely because of its shape.
3 – Avocado is incredibly healthy and nutritious
These are some of their many benefits:
- They contain more potassium than a banana, 975 milligrams per avocado against 478 milligrams per banana.
- One avocado packs 4 grams of protein, a high amount coming from a fruit.
- Half an avocado contains about six or seven grams of fiber. They are high in fiber and very low in carbs.
- Some of the most abundant nutrients in an avocado are: Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA. Folate: 20% of the RDA. Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA. Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA. Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA. Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA.
- Avocados are loaded with powerful antioxidants that can protect the eyes.
- Avocado extract may relieve symptoms of arthritis.
4 – Avocado fats are good for you
Avocados are high in fat. However, the majority of the fat in avocado is oleic acid. This is a monounsaturated fatty acid that is also the major component in olive oil and believed to be responsible for some of its beneficial effects. These fats may lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which may reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Furthermore, the fat in an avocado helps absorb nutrients from plant foods. Some nutrients are “fat soluble,” meaning that they need to be combined with fat in order to be utilized. One study showed that adding avocado or avocado oil to either salad or salsa can increase antioxidant absorption by 2.6 to 15-fold. Avocado is not only highly nutritious, but it can also dramatically increase the nutrient value of other plant foods that you are eating.
5 – There are over 500 varieties of avocados
However, the most produced avocados in the world are:
- Lamb Hass
In Mexico we have wild varieties that we call criollo. Some of them have a thin skin that is edible.
6 – Avocados are used for more than eating
It is common to find beauty products in Mexico made from avocado. The “good” fats in avocados can actually protect your skin. Polyunsaturated fats keep your skin protected from sun damage and inflammation. Monounsaturated fats keep the top layer of skin moisturized so that it’s healthy and guarded from premature wrinkles.
In many markets of Mexico you can buy soaps, moisturizers, and shampoos made from avocados.
7 – Avocados are available all year long and are easy to incorporate in your diet
Mexico is the main producer of avocados in the world. We export them to the USA, France, Japan and many other countries. Because of our blessed weather, avocados are produced all year long and shipped worldwide.
Avocados can be eaten in salads, soups, sandwiches, etc. They are also the main ingredient of guacamole, which is one of the most delicious dips you can ever try. They can also be used in smoothies, sauces, ice cream and other desserts.
Related: Healthy avocado and chipotle tapas