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Avocado History Lesson

Avocado History Lesson

Some History on Avocados

The avocado is a fruit that comes from Mexico originally, where it has been grown for at least 9,000 years by the Mayan and the Aztec people. The first written references to the fruit are believed to have come from conquistador Hernán Cortés’ letters to Charles V of Spain in 1519 because he had found an abundance of them during his conquest. But, there was doubt as to whether this fruit mentioned by Cortés was indeed the avocado. Nevertheless, it seems clear that the first encounter between Europeans and avocados was made around 1524 by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés who mentioned them in one of his works.

Most likely, Spaniards took avocadosto Philippines and from there they were introduced in Africa. The first references to avocados in Brazil are dated 1658 when José de Acosta, a Spanish Jesuit missionary who lived for ten years in Peru, wrote about them.

Language has always been an issue of great importance in the avocado world. Because of that reason, it is not really surprising many countries have more than one common name for this fruit because their names have changed over time. The United States Department of Agriculture lists 6 alternative names besides the well-known avocado: alligator pear, avocado pear, Mexican pear, custard apple (Australia), wax jambu or butter fruit (Malaysia) and aguacate (Brazil). Even in English alone there areat least 9 common names for this fruit.

The name “avocado” comes from the Aztec word āhuacatl [aːˈwakatɬ] and means testicle, probably because its shape is similar to that of a scrotum. The pear-shaped fruit contains an elongated seed which is long in relation to the size of avocado – about 5 cm (2 inches) long and 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide. And it’s not that easy to believe when they are green, but avocados contain more potassium than bananas: 1 cup (150 grams / 5 ounces) contains 422 mg while one medium banana has 422 mg as well; having 493 milligrams in acup (150 grams / 5 ounces). Furthermore, one cup of avocado (150 grams / 5 ounces) contains 29% of the daily-recommended intake of vitamin K.

Health benefits

Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat which may help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight because it promotes satiety while providing energy. Monounsaturated fat comprises about 70 percent of all the fats found in avocados, making them one of the top “clean” sources of healthy dietary fats currently available, according to Felicia Stoler, R.D., author of “Food Synergy” (Future Health Publishing, 2006). She adds that these good fats help decrease bad cholesterol levels while raising your heart-healthy HDLcholesterol. And because avocados also contain a good amount of fiber – about 2.8 grams per cup, this fruit makes you feel full and satiated for a longer period of time which is great for people who are trying to lose weight. In addition to that, avocados have been shown to provide the body with antioxidant protection against harmful free radicals involved in the development of certain chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and arthritis.

One tablespoon (10 grams / 0.33 ounces) of ground black pepper enhances absorption of other nutrients from the avocado pulp by up to 400%, according to a study published in “Journal Agricultural Food Chemistry” (April 2007 issue). Eating an avocado a day can boost your vitamin E intake because it contains60% of the daily recommended value in just one cup (150 grams / 5 ounces).

And we haven’t mentioned all the health benefits avocados provide yet! They are beneficial in managing diabetes, lowering high blood pressure and even reducing your risk of strokes. So with so many positive effects on your health, why not add more avocado to your diet?

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