avocado (persea americana)
origin of avocado
Archaeologist tell us that wild avocados probably originated and were cultivated in Mexico, Central America, and South America as early as 7,000 years ago. The Aztecs called the fruit "ahuacatl", which actually means testicle, because they believed the fruit to be an aphrodisiac with male-strengthening properties.
When Hernán Cortés conquered the city Tenochtitlan (today Mexico City) in 1519, he found avocados an important part of meals consumed by the Aztec Emperor Montezuma. Starting with the Spanish conquistadores, avocados spread around the Caribbean and later then to the Pacific, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia. The Spanish eventually brought avocados to Europe and exported them to countries like England.
Avocado is native to southern Mexico but can be found in tropical and even Mediterranean climates today. The biggest avocado producing countries today are Mexico, Dominican Republic, Peru, Indonesia and Colombia. The avocado tree grows best in humid, tropical weather with well-draining soil and is commercially cultivated. The fruit is harvested while still hard and only ripens when it is off the tree.
There are many reasons to love avocados. Not only are avocados healthy, they're also incredibly delicious and go with all sorts of foods. You can add them to salads and various sorts of recipes, or you can simply scoop them out with a spoon and eat them plain. They have this creamy, rich, fatty texture and blend well with various other ingredients.
Avocados and avocado oil are high in monounsaturated oleic acid, a "heart healthy" fatty acid. Avocado reduce blood triglycerides by 20% and LDL cholesterol by 22%. In the same time it increases HDL (the "good") cholesterol by 11%. Avocados are high in antioxidants that are very important for eye health and lower the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
The fact sheet below gives an overview about the ingredients and nutritional values of avocado. In the upcoming post I will give some healthy recipes using avocado.