AVOCADO: The Alligator Pear   

AVOCADO: The Alligator Pear

Avocado (Persea americana), a creamy rich fruit which is getting more popular worldwide, is also known as “Alligator pear” due to its pear shape and leather-like skin surface. Meanwhile, the name “Avocado” is actually derived from the Aztec word "Ahuacatl". The Spanish found it hard to pronounce and changed it to a more convenient word, “Aguacate”, which eventually became “Avocado” in English.
It is believed that avocados originated and were cultivated in Mexico as early as 500 B.C. as Peru archeologists found domesticated avocado seeds buried with Incan mummies dating back to 750 B.C.

Avocados are native to Central and South America and have been cultivated in both places since 8,000 B.C. Today, avocados are grown and harvested commercially in many tropical and subtropical countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, USA, Sri Lanka, Brazil, India, China, Japan, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ethiopia, Spain, Palestine, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Hawaii. You can even plant it yourself in your own garden as long as the weather temperature does not go lower than 5°C during the winter season.

Benefits of avocados

Avocados are very high in nutrition and it can be a complete food for you.
Why is that so, you ask? Containing various nutrients, vitamins and minerals that your body need, avocados are considered one of the healthiest fruit in the world. Avocados are a good source of dietary fibre, folate, iron, copper, vitamin K, vitamin B-complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, phosphorus and magnesium.

Prostate Cancer Prevention
Avocado have been proven to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer. An avocado is also a dietary source of the carotenoid
lutein; containing measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene) plus huge amounts of tocopherols (vitamin E). All of these nutrients combined together are shown to be able to combat and inhibit prostate cancer cells growth.

Oral Cancer Defense
Researcher has found that certain compounds in avocados are capable to split out pre-cancerous and cancerous oral cancer cells and destroy them without harming healthy cells.

Breast Cancer Protection
Avocado, like olive oil, is rich of oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer in many studies.

Eye Health
Avocados are consists high of carotenoid lutein than any other commonly consumed fruit. Lutein able to protects against macular degeneration and cataracts, two disabling age-related eye diseases.

Lower Cholesterol
Avocados are rich in beta-sitosterol, a compound that has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. Researcher found that, 48 volunteers experienced an average drop in cholesterol of 18% after eating avocados for only one week. Avocados are not only sodium-free and cholesterol-free but they also contain a monounsaturated fat known as oleic acid that can help to lower one’s cholesterol level. Research found that people with moderately high cholesterol levels have showed health improvements after consuming a
diet high in avocados.

Heart Health
Avocados also contain great amounts of potassium that help to control and prevent circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke, even better than a medium-sized banana. This fruit’s low sugar content makes it most suitable for consumption among diabetics or
hypoglycaemic patients.

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 health.

Stroke Prevention
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 don't.

Better Nutrient Absorption
Adding avocados into your salads can help to increase absorption of carotenoids from the vegetables. A study has found that even by mixing a small amount of avocado into the salad can significantly boost your body's ability in absorbing the health-promoting carotenoids that is provided in other vegetables. Certain nutrients are absorbed better when eaten with avocado. As per research, when a group of people 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.

Glutathione Source
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 also rich in vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health.

Include Avocado into your Diet!

We highly encourage you to eat more avocados seeing that it contains so many amazing health benefits in that small pear-shaped fruit. Including them in your diet would be the best way. Don’t know how? Here are some tips and ideas for you.
1. Replace butter with avocado spread for your sandwiches.
2. Dip raw vegetables like lettuce sticks in avocado puree instead of eating chips.
3. Mix avocado slices in your salad for a rich creamy texture.
4. Put avocado into your favorite creamy tofu-based dressing to give it an extra richness and beautiful green color.
5. Blend ripe avocados with sugar and milk for a dessert drink.
6. Add avocado cubes as one of the toppings for your ice cream.
7. Use chopped avocado to garnish your black bean soup.
8. Make an avocado salmon salad with mayonnaise.
Meanwhile, you can come out with your own creative way of serving avocados too!

Shopping for Avocados and Storing Them

It is difficult for you to find the perfect avocado in the store because avocados ripen within days and can easily turn over-ripe. It is recommended that you purchase unripe avocados a few days earlier than when you need them so you can let the fruits ripen at home before you consume them. This way you can get a perfect fruit with no bruises.
There are some characteristics you need to take note when selecting avocados:

1. A ripe avocado should be slightly soft when you hold it. However, it should not have any dark sunken spots or cracks on the fruit.
2. Avocado that has a slight neck was probably ripened on the tree. It will actually have better flavor!
3. An unripe avocado is firmer to hold and less likely to have bruises.
4. The Hass avocado should have a pebbled dark green or black skin.
5. The Fuerte avocado has smoother, brighter green skin. Avoid those that are too light and bright!
6. Florida avocados have less fat and calories, but their taste is not as rich as California varieties.

Open your avocados by cutting it in half lengthwise, then twist it gently in the opposite direction. Remove the pit with a spoon or the knife and peel off the skin before slicing.

Do not refrigerate avocados when they are unripe. The cold
temperature will slow down the ripening process. However, you may store your avocados in the refrigerator when the fruit is ripe up to a week long. It is highly recommended for you to store avocados as a whole fruit because sliced ones turn brown easily after being exposed to oxygen in the air. Nevertheless, you may sprinkle some lemon juice or vinegar on the fruit to avoid the natural browning effect.


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