1. Avocado refers to the tree and to the fruit. Botanically, the fruit is a large berry containing a single (large) seed.
2. This ancient fruit dates back over 10,000 years to central Mexico, and the word “avocado” is believed to be derived from the Nahuatl word for “testicle”,
describing the shape of the fruit.
Archaeologists believe cultivation started about 5,000 years ago. The first Europeans to eat avocados were, of course, Spanish conquistadors and settlers, who brought avocados back to Europe in the 16th century.
3. Today, avocados are cultivated around the world, wherever the climate allows. Mexico is by far the largest producer, and other significant production also comes from Peru, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Indonesia. The trees need subtropical or tropical climates, although some varieties have been developed that are cold tolerant.
4. There are hundreds of varieties of avocado, but the most commonly cultivated avocado in the world, producing fruit year-round and accounting for 80% of the cultivated crop is the Hass (spherical), the bumpy-skinned fruit. Another popular avocado is the large green Fuerte (pear-shaped).
5. North Americans will recognize Hass avocados as “California” avocados; Fuerte are “Florida” avocados, much larger than the Hass.
A search of AvocadoSource.com shows Ecuador grows about 30 different varieties such as the Capac, Chota, Imbabura, Inca, and Tamayo.
6. Avocados are high in fat, necessary for nutrient absorption. Just like olives, avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, especially heart-healthy oleic acid.
7. They’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid.
8. Avocado oil is great for eating and for cooking too, since it has a high smoke point. Look for cold-pressed extra-virgin avocado oil.
9. A half of a Hass avocado contains about 5 grams of fiber; a half of a Fuerte about 8.5 grams. Hass contain more soluble fiber; Fuerte contain more insoluble fiber. Both types of fiber contribute to good digestion and elimination and helps stabilize blood glucose and lower blood fats.
10. Avocados are rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K (26% of the Recommended Daily Value (RDA), vitamin C (17%), and potassium (14%), even more than a banana. Another important nutrient linked to avocado heart health is beta-sitosterol, a natural plan sterol linked to healthy cholesterol levels. They also contain magnesium, phosphorus and iron.
11. Oxidation (exposure to air) makes avocados turn brown, but by brushing the fruit with an acidic agent like citrus juice you can delay the process.
If I want to use just half of the avocado, instead of slicing lengthwise, I cut it in half crosswise, leaving in the seed, sprinkle with juice, and then press plastic wrap right on the cut flesh and store in the refrigerator.
What are your tips for keeping avocados fresh? Post your comments below.
12. A ripe avocado will be firm but not hard. Overripe will feel soft like a tomato. You might want to buy firm avocados, and let them ripen at room temperature, and as they soften, refrigerate to slow the ripening process.
13. Don’t throw your seeds away! You can easily get that seed to sprout, and with care, in about 5 to 13 years you’ll have a tree that will bear your own avocados! Find out more how to do this here.