Know Your Avacado:
The avocado (Persea americana), a tree native to Mexico and Central America, belongs to the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel. The word “avocado” is derived from the Aztec word “ahuacatl,” meaning testicle.
The avocado is colloquially known as the alligator pear because of its shape and the leather-like appearance of its skin. The avocado is widely considered a vegetable, since it is commonly used in salads. However, it is actually a fruit that tastes like a vegetable, and most markets display it with other typical fruits.
There are dozens of varieties of avocados, including the Hass, Gwen, Pinkerton, Reed, Fuerto, Zutano and Bacon varieties. The rich and creamy Hass variety is the most popular type of avocado in the United States, and 95% of all avocados grown in the United States are produced in California, original home of the Hass variety.
Avocados, native to Central and South America, have been cultivated in these regions since 8000 B.C. In the mid-17th century, they were introduced to Jamaica and spread through the Asian tropical regions in the mid-1800s. The major commercial producers of avocados are the United States (Florida and California), Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Colombia. California produces 95 percent of all avocados grown in the United States.
TOP 16 HEALTH BENEFITS OF AVOCADOS:
- Contains Healthy Fats: Oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid, is considered to be a “good fat” which reduces levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol in your blood, spikes the good (HDL) cholesterol, and lowers your risk of stroke and heart disease.
- Aids Weight Loss: Your body treatsmonounsaturated fatty acids as a “slow burning energy” source, ensuring it isn’t tucked away as fat. This slowing ensures satiety, reducing hunger and appetite. It is high in healthy fats and less in processed carbs, making it ideal in a weight loss diet.
- For Cardiovascular Health: Vitamin E prevents cholesterol oxidization; vitamin B6 and folic acid reduce dangerous homocystenine levels in the blood; potassium regulates blood pressure; phytosterols reduce cholesterol absorption; dietary fibre controls blood sugar levels; Monounsaturated oleic acid and beta-sitosterol reduce dangerous LDL cholesterol while increasing more beneficial HDL cholesterol.
- Anti- Cancer: Avocados contain a potent mix of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients, phytochemicals, and oleic acid, which help inhibit the growth of cancer cells affecting the breast, mouth, skin, and prostate gland. Avocado selectively spikes the oxidative stress, of cancerous cells, to extreme fatal levels, while supplying antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients to non-cancerous normal cells.
- Anti-Inflammatory: Inflammation is considered the root cause for most non-contagious diseases. Avocados have an abundance of anti-inflammatory agents like plant phytonutrient, polyphenols, and flavonoids that prevent osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- For Eye health: Avocado contains the wonder carotenoid leutein, an antioxidant which prevents oxidative stress damage, the primary reason for poor vision, cataracts, and age related macular degeneration (ARMD).
- Fights Diabetes: Avocados with a low glycemic index can reduce high triglyceride levels, and its highly soluble fiber can reverse insulin resistance (Type2 Diabetes). Its 7-carbon sugars helps regulate the way blood sugar (glucose) is metabolized, by blocking activity of an enzyme called hexokinase, and changing the level of activity through a metabolic pathway called glycolysis.
- Rich in Folate: Folate, a water-soluble B vitamin, is critical during periods of rapid cell division and growth, such as infancy and pregnancy, preventing birth defects, such as neural tube and spina bifida. Folate is also essential for healthy cell and tissue development and metabolism of homocysteine and helps maintain normal levels of this amino acid. The high levels of folate in avocados also protect against stroke.
- Immunity Booster: The master antioxidant glutathione supports the liver and the nervous system. It is responsible for replenishing and recycling other antioxidants in the body. The glutathione in avocado boosts immune systems, slows aging process, and encourages a healthy nervous system.
- Settles Digestive Function: Nutrients and enzymes in avocado reduce inflammation in the stomach and small intestine’s mucous lining, improving the body’s ability to absorb carotenoids, including beta carotene and lycopene, and other vital nutrients.
- Skin Care: The monounsaturated fats (Omega-9) in avocado protect your skin from wrinkles and other visible signs of aging and also treat psoriasis. Vitamin E helps guard against photo-aging from sun exposure and vitamin C is crucial in creation of elastin and collagen, for maintaining your skin’s elasticity and firmness.
- Against Alzheimer’s disease: Folate prevents formation of tangled nerve fibers, a condition normally associated with Alzheimer’s. Avocados combine brain healthy omega-3 fatty acids with natural vitamin E, preventing the progression and reversal of Alzheimer’s disease in its earliest stages.
- Treats Halitosis: Avocados has long been used as a natural and effective mouth wash and in most bad breath remedies. Its insoluble fibers cleanse the colon and digestive tracts, which are the real cause of coated tongue and bad breath.
- Abundant in Vitamins: Avocados are an excellent source of vitamin K, Vitamin B9, B6, B5, vitamin C, vitamin E, and minerals like copper, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. B-vitamins assist in body’s metabolism, vitamin K nourishes the skeletal (bone) framework, and Vitamin E takes care of the eye, avoiding conditions like retinopathy.
- Dietary Fiber Source: Source of both insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber stimulates efficient bowel movements eliminating constipation and colorectal cancer. Soluble fiber turns into a gel, which increases satiety, acts as a slow energy source, and controls appetite.
- Aids Nutrient absorption: Avocados, when included in salads, increase the absorption of carotenoids (a group of nutrients that includes beta carotene and lycopene) by about 200%.
Side Effects and Precautions:
- Like bananas and chestnuts, avocados contain enzymes called chitinases that are associated with the latex-fruit allergy syndrome. Symptoms include generalised urticaria, abdominal pain, and vomiting and can sometimes be life-threatening.
- Those with a tree-pollen allergy develop local symptoms in the mouth and throat shortly after eating avocado.
- Overconsumption can lead to weight gain due to their high fat and caloric levels.
- Eating too many avocados may not leave you enough room to get other essential nutrients, such as protein.
- Other avocado allergic symptoms like stuffy nose, wheezing, coughing and edema have also been reported.