Before I wrote this article, I asked myself why many people refer to the Avocado as a “Super Food” or “the world’s most perfect food”. After further research, it was not hard to see why! Avocado (Persea Americana) is native to central Mexico. It is a tall, evergreen tree that can grow up to 65 feet in height. Avocados can vary in weight from 6 ounces up to 3 pounds depending upon the variety. Avocado is derived from the Aztec word “ahuacatl”.
The use of avocados dates back to 10,000 BC. In the 19th century, the avocado made its entry into the US from Mexico to California, and has since become a very successful, commercial crop. Currently, 95% of the US avocados are grown in Sothern California, which is well above 350,000,000 pounds. Mexico is the world’s leading producer of avocados, producing over 800,000 tons. In the United States, the biggest consumption of avocados nationwide is on Super Bowl Sunday!
The avocado provides nearly 20 essential nutrients. These essential nutrients include fiber, healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3-fatty acids), vitamins A, C, D, E, K, the B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B6, Biotin, and Folate) as well as potassium. Avocados contain no cholesterol and no sodium. A typical avocado will contain both insoluble and soluble fiber; that alone making it very powerful. The breakdown in an average avocado is approximately 75 percent insoluble fiber to 25 percent soluble fiber. The avocado is widely considered a vegetable, since it is commonly used in salads and dips. It is actually, however, a fruit and most markets display it with other fruits.
There are numerous health benefits in avocado. Mentioned here on the ones that have been scientifically proven:
- Cholesterol levels: Avocados are high in beta-sitosterol, which 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.
- Heart health: One cup of avocado supplies nearly 30% of the daily folate that is very crucial for heart health. Studies show that people who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower incidence of heart disease than those who don’t.
- Eye health: Avocados have more lutein than any other commonly consumed fruit. Lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts, two disabling age-related eye diseases.
- Morning sickness: Avocados contain vitamin B6, which helps alleviate nausea and queasiness related to pregnancy.
- Kidney stones: Avocados have a high potassium content that decreases urinary calcium excretion, and lowers the risk of stones forming in the kidneys.
- Blood pressure regulation: Since avocados are a great source of potassium (One cup will provide over 700 mg of potassium), they help to control blood pressure levels.
- Blood sugar regulation: The healthy fats found in avocados may help reverse insulin resistance. The soluble fiber also has been found to promote blood sugar stability.
- Birth defect prevention: The high levels of folate in avocados are beneficial as folate is essential in preventing neural tube defects.
So as Super Bowl Sunday approaches, make your favorite recipe of guacamole, enjoy the game and reap the benefits of avocados!