When I grew up, we were told that avocados should not be eaten in large quantities because they were too fatty. And we believed that! Whatsoever we were told, do you know if avocados are healthy for you? Or are avocados a fruit or a vegetable? You are about to find out some interesting facts about this powerhouse of energy food.
5 Interesting Facts About Avocados
1) We use avocados in our salads, soups, on our bread as a vegetable. However, avocado is a fruit and not a vegetable. Botanically it belongs to the berry family because it is a large fruit with a single seed, which grows, depending on the variety, on trees up to 16 m in height. Some know avocados as the alligator pear because of its skin similarities with alligators.
2) Avocados are thought to have their origins in South and Central Mexico (my homeland by the way). Back when the Aztecs lived in Tenochtitlan and Spanish explorers came to their territories, avocados were a well-known fruit for the Aztecs. The word has its origins in Nahuatl, the Aztecs language. They called it “ahuacatl”, which was too difficult for the explorers to pronounce so they chose “aguacate”, the word that we know this fruit for to the day.
You can find the word “palta” used in South American countries, which has its origins in the Quechua.
Have you heard about avocado ice cream? The few times that I consume ice cream or pops, the avocado is and stays among my favorite one to eat. It is here where the sweet and creamy taste of the avocado comes in handy.
3) Contrary to most other fruit, you can tell whether the avocado is ripe or not. It turns into a deep dark color which tells you that it is ready to eat. The interesting fact about this fruit is that it matures on the tree, yet it needs to come off the tree in order to ripen.
Avocado trees have a special enzyme which will never let an avocado ripen on the tree. Avocado farms wait until the fruit is ripe, then they pick them off the tree and put them into a cold environment so it cannot ripen. Once they are ready for the market, they can take off the process of ripening.
Here is a quick tip from my kitchen: Avocados tend to get brown spots easily when they are squeezed. Now, in a supermarket everybody looks for the best avocado, so we tend to squeeze them a bit before grabbing the right ones. The avocados you buy will have gone through many hands before you get them. I always buy the green and hard ones, put them on the refrigerator until ripe, which can take anywhere between 1 to 4 days, depending on the fruit. I dislike eating brown spotted avocados strongly, and this is a great way to protect your fruit from unnecessary spots.
4) Avocados cannot grow fruit alone. They do need a partner tree to be able to pollinate its flowers. The simple fact is that this tree has male and female flowers which do not open at the
same time and do so only for a few days. This is, the female flowers may open in the morning and the male flowers in the afternoon. They are said to open only around 2-4 hours each. It is extremely difficult to get one tree to bear fruit without a partner. It can be done in cases by strong winds, but that is rare.
Interestingly, the avocado was a symbol of love and fertility for the Aztecs in central Mexico. These ancient cultures had knowledge about avocados trees and their behaviors.
5) The fruit with the lowest levels of water contents is the avocado. Fresh fruit is known for a high percentage of water, but the avocado has fewer water contents. Olives and bananas would be the only fruit that was similar to the avocado. Less water means a higher concentration of nutrients, which makes this fruit a powerhouse of energy and nutrition, unlike other fruit.
4 Health Facts About Avocados
In the next section, I am going to outline some health benefits of avocados and how they are healthy for you.
1) Because of the high-fat contents of the avocado, I always thought it could not be healthy since fats are not good for the body. However, I have learned that not all fat is bad and that we need good fats in order to maintain a healthy body. Like the olive, you can have up to 20% of fats in the avocado, depending of course on the variety. There are different kinds of fats found in the avocado, but never cholesterol, and few saturated fats, which are well-known in other vegetable oils.
In recent studies, researchers found people that report eating avocados daily to have better heart health, in terms of their blood sugar and insulin stabilization. The avocado regulates blood sugar and insulin levels only for a few hours, and not in the long run, so you have to continue to eat them frequently.
Because of its high-fat contents, you can deduce that eating avocados helps with your weight management since they make you feel full easier than another fruit will. Studies show that people eating avocados regularly lower their body fat quicker than others who do not. Now, do not think that you can eat all the avocados you want and still lose weight. You have to follow a good plan in order to lose weight successfully.
2) Unlike other fruits, avocados have the highest number of proteins in all fresh fruits, which is estimated at a maximum of 2%. It contains all the essential amino acids, although you can find each of them in small proportions. It is no wonder that ancient cultures in Latin America substituted avocados for meat regularly. It was and is still part of international cuisines because of its high protein contents, not to mention the creamy taste.
3) No animal product, including eggs, are as rich in Vitamin E as the avocado is. There are some dried fruits, like olives that have higher Vitamin E, but the avocado stays on the top list of sources of Vitamin E. This does not only favor our reproductive system but also serves as a strong antioxidant, which again protects cells from aging to fast.
It is only through recent studies that it has been discovered that avocados can prevent your body from developing arthritis, although further studies are needed to determine the extent of these findings. However, the relation between cell aging, antioxidants and avocados are clear and surely interlinked.
4) Avocados have the highest amount of iron, compared to any other fresh fruit. It contains around 1.02 mg per every 100g. The benefits of high iron intake are invaluable. Let me mention only one of these benefits: Healthy hair and skin. You can prevent anemia, which is often the cause for hair loss. Vitamin E and Iron are directly responsible for anti-aging. Who does not want to look as young as he did? This powerhouse of nutrients will give that to you if you eat them not only frequently, but regularly.
How To Eat Avocados
It is said that the most nutritious and rich parts of the avocado, where all the phytonutrients can be found, is thrown away: The peel and the seed. Now, I have never tried either, nor have I researched how to eat these, but there is one thing you should do for sure: Go as close to the peel and the seed when eating the avocado, the more of these nutrients will you get.
I usually cut my avocado in half, separate the halves, take the seed out and eat, either right out of the peel (my favorite snack for a trip because they are not messy at all). The creamy texture is a great snack, also the best snack for my little children because it gives, although in small portions, the needed Omega-3 fat, for their brain growth and health.
You should pick the smaller avocados when buying them, because the smaller the fruit, the more concentrated fats it has. However, the big fruit is healthy too and should not be wasted if you cannot get smaller ones. Especially where I live, we tend to get the larger varieties easier than the smaller ones.
The all-time favorite for avocados is guacamole. Even if you can find hundreds of recipes to prepare guacamole, let me share the typical Mexican guacamole, which is among our favorites too:
Mash the pulp of avocados, add chopped onions, squeeze a little lemon juice over the mixture, a pinch of salt and your favorite picante chili powder. As I said, you can change and tweak this recipe to your favorite taste.
One thing I have not tried, but sounds quite appealing is to fry avocados. Since they have a creamy texture, you can easily give them a great taste by breading them first, then frying them. Definitely, something to try in the near future.
And there you have it. Did you find the answer to our question: Are avocados healthy for you? Definitely, another superfood that you likely have on hand or can easily get in the supermarket, depending on where you live. It might be expensive, yet it gives you so much to benefit from. Without a doubt, it is worth the money when you think about your body functions being boosted.
Please feel free to share what you learned through this article and also go ahead and share your favorite ways to eat the avocado. It can help us all get more ideas on what everybody does, and it tastes good. Thanks for stopping by and reading this article.