Avocados are a fruit, not a vegetable. There are more than 500 varieties of avocados. They are native to Central and South America where it is also called the “alligator pear” because of its alligator skin texture and pear shape. The Aztec word for avocado was ahuacatl, but Spanish explorers couldn’t pronounce that word so they called it aguacate. This is the origin of the word guacamole.
Avocados were first introduced to the United States in 1871, when Judge R.B. Ord planted three trees in Santa Barbara, California. Rudolph Hass, a postman, patented an avocado tree in 1935 that’s called the Hass. This is the most common avocado grown in the U.S. and is the only avocado grown year round.
Mexico is the world’s top producer of avocados, with California coming in second. California boasts 7,000 avocado groves with 60% of them being in San Diego County. Florida is the second main producer in the United States. Aside from the United States and Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Colombia are the world’s top producing countries.
The average avocado contains 300 calories and 30 grams of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. Avocados have the highest protein content of any fruit, and they contain more potassium than bananas. One avocado contains 81 mcg of lutein, an important nutrient for healthy eyes. Lutein is a carotenoid antioxidant that is found in many fruits and vegetables. Lutein is naturally present in the macula area of the retina, and it is believed to be important for eye health, providing possible protection against cataracts and macular degeneration.
Avocados are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin K, fiber, folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and copper. They are known to have an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial flesh that has been used for centuries. Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help to lower cholesterol. Avocados are also an excellent source of glutathione, an important antioxidant that researchers say is important in preventing aging, cancer, and heart disease.
Health Benefits of Avocados
Prostate Cancer Prevention
Avocados have been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.
Oral Cancer Defense
Research has shown that certain compounds in avocados are able to seek out pre-cancerous and cancerous oral cancer cells and destroy them without harming healthy cells.
Breast Cancer Protection
Avocado, like olive oil, is high in oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer in numerous studies.
Avocados have more of the carotenoid lutein than any other commonly consumed fruit. Lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts, two disabling age-related eye diseases.
Avocados are high in beta-sitosterol, a compound that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. In one study, 45 volunteers experienced an average drop in cholesterol of 17% after eating avocados for only one week.
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