Although the creamy rich Hass avocados are generally available throughout the year, they are the most abundant and at their best during the spring and summer in California and in October in Florida. During the fall and winter months you can find Fuerto, Zutano and Bacon varieties.
The avocado is colloquially known as the Alligator Pear, reflecting its shape and the leather-like appearance of its skin. Avocado is derived from the Aztec word “ahuacatl
Avocados are an excellent source of all of the following nutrients: monosaturated fatty acids, Vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, polyphenols, chlorophyll, lutein, carotenoids, gluthathione.
Avocado nutrition info you might not already know: ounce-by-ounce, avocado is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available and is the best source among all fruits of potassium, Vitamin E, magnesium
Half of an avocado several times weekly
Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that may help to lower cholesterol. In one study of people with moderately high cholesterol levels, individuals who ate a diet high in avocados showed clear health improvements. After seven days on the diet that included avocados, they had significant decreases in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, along with an 11% increase in health promoting HDL cholesterol.
Avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of potassium can help to guard against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Association has authorized a health claim that states: “Diets containing foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.”
One cup of avocado has 23% of the Daily Value for folate, a nutrient important for heart health. To determine the relationship between folate intake and heart disease, researchers followed over 80,000 women for 14 years using dietary questionnaires. They found that women who had higher intakes of dietary folate had a 55% lower risk of having heart attacks or fatal heart disease. Another study showed that individuals who consume folate-rich diets have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke than those who do not consume as much of this vital nutrient.
Promote Optimal Health
Not only are avocados a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid, which has recently been shown to offer significant protection against breast cancer, but it is also a very concentrated dietary source of the carotenoid lutein; it also contains measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene) plus significant quantities of tocopherols (vitamin E).
In a laboratory study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, an extract of avocado containing these carotenoids and tocopherols inhibited the growth of both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent prostate cancer cells.
But when researchers tried exposing the prostate cancer cells to lutein alone, the single carotenoid did not prevent cancer cell growth and replication. Not only was the whole matrix of carotenoids and tocopherols in avocado necessary for its ability to kill prostate cancer cells, but the researchers also noted that the significant amount of monounsaturated fat in avocado plays an important role. Carotenoids are lipid (fat)-soluble, which means fat must be present to ensure that these bioactive carotenoids will be absorbed into the bloodstream. Just as Nature intends, avocado delivers the whole heath-promoting package.
Increase Your Absorption of Carotenoids from Vegetables
Enjoying a few slices of avocado in your tossed salad, or mixing some chopped avocado into your favorite salsa will not only add a rich, creamy flavor, but will greatly increase your body’s ability to absorb the health-promoting carotenoids that vegetables provide.
A study published in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition tested the hypothesis that since carotenoids are lipophilic (literally, fat-loving, which means they are soluble in fat, not water), consuming carotenoid-rich foods along with monounsaturated-fat-rich avocado might enhance their bioavailability.
Not only did adding avocado to a salad of carrot, lettuce and baby spinach or to salsa greatly increase study participants’ absorption of carotenoids from these foods, but the improvement in carotenoid availability occurred even when a very small amount-as little as 2 ounces-of avocado was added.
Adding avocado to salad increased absorption of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein 7.2, 15.3, and 5.1 times higher, respectively, than the average amount of these carotenoids absorbed when avocado-free salad was eaten.
Adding avocado to salsa increased lycopene and beta-carotene absorption 4.4 and 2.6 times higher, respectively, than the average amount of these nutrients absorbed from avocado-free salsa. Since avocados contain a large variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, eating a little avocado along with carotenoid-rich vegetables and fruits is an excellent way to improve your body’s ability to absorb carotenoids while also receiving other nutritional-and taste-benefits.
Avocado Phytonutrients Combat Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is even more likely to result in death than breast, skin, or cervical cancer, with a mortality rate of about 50% due to late detection, according to Great Britain’s Mouth Cancer Foundation. Avocados may offer a delicious dietary strategy for the prevention of oral cancer. Phytonutrients in Hass avocados, the most readily available of the more than 500 varieties of avocados grown worldwide, target multiple signaling pathways, increasing the amount of free radicals (reactive oxygen species) within pre-cancerous and cancerous human oral cell lines, that leads to their death, but cause no harm to normal cells. Earlier research by UCLA scientists also indicates that Hass avocados may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer as well. When analyzed, Hass avocados were found to contain the highest content of lutein among commonly eaten fruits as well as measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene). Lutein accounted for 70% of the measured carotenoids, and the avocado also contained significant quantities of vitamin E.
The avocado is colloquially known as the Alligator Pear, reflecting its shape and the leather-like appearance of its skin. Avocado is derived from the Aztec word “ahuacatl.”
Avocados are the fruit from the Persea Americana, a tall evergreen tree that can grow up to 65 feet in height. There are dozens of varieties of avocadoes, which fall into three main categories-Mexican, Guatemalean, and West Indian-which differ in their size, appearance, quality and susceptibility to cold. The most popular type of avocado in the United States is the Hass variety, which has rugged, pebbly brown-black skin. Another common type of avocado is the Fuerte, which is larger than the Hass and has smooth, dark green skin and a more defined pear shape.
Avocados vary in weight from 8 ounces to 3 pounds depending upon the variety. The edible portion of the avocado is its yellow-green flesh, which has a luscious, buttery consistency and a subtle nutty flavor. The skin and pit are inedible.
Avocados are native to Central and South America and have been cultivated in these regions since 8,000 B.C. In the mid-17th century, they were introduced to Jamaica and spread through the Asian tropical regions in the mid-1800s. Cultivation in United States, specifically in Florida and California, began in the early 20th century. While avocados are now grown in most tropical and subtropical countries, the major commercial producers include the United States (Florida and California), Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Colombia.
How to Select and Store
A ripe, ready to eat avocado is slightly soft but should have no dark sunken spots or cracks. If the avocado has a slight neck, rather than being rounded on top, it was probably tree ripened and will have better flavor. A firmer, less mature fruit can be ripened at home and will be less likely to have bruises. The Hass avocado weighs about 8 ounces on average and has a pebbled dark green or black skin, while the Fuerte avocado has smoother, brighter green skin. Avoid Fuertes with skin that is too light and bright. Florida avocados, which can be as large as 5 pounds, have less fat and calories, but their taste is not as rich as California varieties.
A firm avocado will ripen in a paper bag or in a fruit basket at room temperature within a few days. As the fruit ripens, the skin will turn darker. Avocados should not be refrigerated until they are ripe. Once ripe, they can be kept refrigerated for up to a week. If you are refrigerating a whole avocado, it is best to keep it whole and not slice it in order to avoid browning that occurs when the flesh is exposed to air.
If you have used a portion of a ripe avocado, it is best to store the remainder in the refrigerator. Store in a plastic bag, wrap with plastic wrap, or place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Sprinkling the exposed surface(s) with lemon juice will help to prevent the browning that can occur when the flesh comes in contact with oxygen in the air.
100 grams of avocado provides almost 165 calories. Avocado is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available.
Here is some very helpful advice from Pratt and Matthews on buying avocados:
An unripe avocado will have none of the delicious creaminess of a ripe one. When shopping for avocados, select fruit that is unblemished, without cracks or dark sunken spots. A ripe avocado will yield slight to the touch when pressed; this indicates that the avocado is ready to eat…
Avocados found in the store will usually be unripe, but they will ripen at home in a few days. Do not refrigerate avocados.
Here are some of the best ways to include avocados in your diet:Instead of mayonnaise, consider using mashed avocado for your next salad or sandwich .;Spread on toasted whole-grain bread and top with salsa
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