Avocado fruit – origins and traditions
Avocado, Persea Americana, is both the name of the fruit and also, of the tree that makes it. It is found and appreciated in southern and central Mexico, as well as in other South American countries (Peru, Guatemala, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the West Indies).
Remains similar to the fruit we call avocado today have been discovered in Peru, dating back to 8000-15000 years ago. In Mexico, it seems that avocados come from the Tehuacan Valley in the state of Puebla.
The actual name of the fruit is an English adaptation of the Spanish version, “aguacate”.
The Aztecs and the Incas gave the fruit either aphrodisiac properties or fertilizing ones. Archaeologists believe that the shape of the fruit would have been the reason for this assumed properties.
Martín Fernández de Enciso, navigator and geographer of Seville (Spain), was the first European to mention the avocado fruit in his book “Suma de Geographia Que Trata de Todas Las Partidas Y Provincias Del Mundo” (1519).
Nowadays, avocados are mainly grown in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, but also in the USA, more precisely in the states of Florida and California – due to the milder climate.
The avocado tree grows optimally under subtropical humidity and heat conditions.
Health benefits of avocado
Few other fruits can provide a natural intake of monounsaturated fats and vitamins that play an essential role in balancing cholesterol and cardiac conditions, such as avocados
Below is a table with the main nutrients provided by avocados and their role in the functioning of the human body.
|Monounsaturated fats||– helps reduce insulin resistance;
– regulates blood sugar levels;
– contributes to the proper functioning of the heart and brain.
|Oleic acid||– oleic acid is also a monounsaturated fat with a role in the absorption of carotenoids. Carotenoids are chemical compounds that help reduce inflammatory processes, stimulate the immune system, and provide a good development of our organism.|
|Vitamins A, K and E||– these vitamins are fat-soluble and work together with minerals such as zinc and magnesium, with major metabolic influences (thyroid hormone production, carbon dioxide and so forth)
|Vitamin B and C||– water-soluble vitamins, which are particularly important for the body, especially as the human body can not synthesize or store them on its own. Thus, consuming just one avocado a day is enough to “make you full” with these vitamins!|
|Minerals (magnesium, copper, potassium and iron)||– few people know that one avocado contains the same amount of potassium like in two bananas.|
|Vegetable fibers||-avocado contains soluble fiber to regulate intestinal transit, control weight and balance blood sugar.|
|Proteins||– avocados are among the fruits with the highest content of vegetable proteins and the lowest sugar content. Thus, avocados offer a unique balance for the development of smooth muscles and helps reduce unhealthy fats in the body.|
|Phytochemical antioxidants (lutein, beta-sitosterol etc.)||– phytochemical antioxidants protect the body against degenerative diseases (eg macular degeneration, cataracts) and combat the effects of free radicals (responsible for cellular and DNA mutations).|
|Folic acid||– avocados contain folic acid which is very important for the harmonious development of the fetus, prevents the development of lung, esophagus, pancreatic cancer and can delay the symptoms of memory decline in the elderly.|
|Phytonutrients (flavonoids and polyphenols)||– phytonutrients have anti-inflammatory properties, both for soft tissues (skin, connective tissue) and for joints.|
According to research studies, monounsaturated fats contained in avocados facilitate the absorption of other nutrients, especially carotenoids (that help in preventing many types of cancer). Also, eating avocados before going to the beach or exposing yourself to sun, help protect the skin from inflammation and burns.
Culinary preparations with avocados in the list of ingredients are diverse and start from salads to desserts. In some South American regions avocados are used to make vegetable butter.
Avocado can also be used for skin care, especially in the liquid form (avocado oil), but also in home-made recipes
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