There’s a doctor in the pantry – guess who? In botanical (scientific) terms because the avocado has a seed, it is classed as a fruit. The term vegetable is a culinary term and the avocado (aka alligator pear) is classed as a vegetable because it is used in salads, burgers and sandwiches as a vegetable. The avocado tree is related to the laurel and originated in Persia. The ancient Aztecs left evidence the avocado was included in their diet, so did the Mayans and Incas. There are over 400 varieties of avocado. Ripe avocado contains a high amount of fruit oil. Fruit oil is a rare element. It is this that gives it the smooth mellow taste and nut-like flavour. Unlike most fruit, the avocado contains few carbohydrates, there are 14 minerals, including sodium and potassium (gives the fruit its high alkaline reaction). The iron and copper aid in red blood regeneration and prevent nutritional anaemia. Copper also normalises blood pressure and regulates heart rate. Avocado is known to relieve constipation (mash-up the ripe flesh, spread on wholemeal) and lowers blood cholesterol (eating about ½ an avocado every second day will lower your blood cholesterol). This hard-skinned, but creamy fruit rich in nutrients, has often been overlooked by many as a worthy food to integrate into meals because of the high fat content. It’s a fallacy that avocado is fattening. It’s the monounsaturated fats, plus the vitamin E (healthy skin and blood sugar regulation) and glutathione content that are protective against heart disease. The avocado, one of nature’s super foods, is known to be protective against prostate cancer, oral cancer and, like Extra Virgin Olive oil, has an oleic acid content proven to assist in the prevention of breast cancer. It is also high in antioxidants and potent caratenoids. Glutathione is one such antioxidant that research has found prevents cancer and slows the aging process. Avocados are a good source of Vitamin K, which prevents blood clotting and assists with the absorption of calcium and vitamin B6. This helps to lower homocysteine levels in the body, decreasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The avocado’s high levels of folate (a water-soluble B vitamin) protects the developing foetus against neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida.
Additional avocado nutrients and primary benefits
Thiamin – metabolism / cardiovascular health
Riboflavin – protein, carb and fat processing / skin health
Niacin – digestion / skin health / nervous system
Vitamin B6 – nervous and immune systems / oxygen transport
Folate – metabolism / prevention of one type of anemia / prenatal health
Pantothenic Acid – nutrient processing / red blood cell formation
Phosphorous – bone health / teeth formation
Magnesium – muscle and nerve function / bone health / sustains regular heartbeat
Zinc – immune system / wound healing / supports reproduction and growth
Manganese – bone health
The Avocado is undoubtedly one of nature’s superfoods.