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“...the avocado is a food without rival among the fruits, the veritable fruit of paradise.”
Opening a perfectly ripe avocado is one of the small joys in life. Avocados, the savory berries of evergreen trees in the Laurel family, likely originated in MesoAmerica. Centuries of domestication produced dozens of varieties prized for their rich, buttery texture, their size or their oil content.
Simultaneously a culinary staple and a forbidden fruit, avocados have long been surrounded by an aphrodisiacal aura, for which there is no scientific evidence. The Aztecs, who named the avocado ahuacatl (which means testicle), spread avocados on corn tortillas and touted them as sexual stimulants. By the time the Spaniards got hold of this fruit in the 16th century, the avocado was off limits to all confessing Catholics because of its purported arousing qualities.
Avocados are high in fiber and
folate and a good source of vitamins C and E and potassium , with some vitamin B3 and magnesium . Although half a medium avocado has 160 calories and 15 grams of fat, two-thirds of the fat is monounsaturated—a plus for most diets. High in healthy monounsaturated fat, avocado oil can be drizzled over salads and cooked vegetables. The oil has the highest smoke point of any vegetable oil and can be used for high-heat frying.
What You Get
What You Get:
Like olive oil, the fats in avocados are predominantly monounsaturated, which are associated with cardiovascular health.
Avocados are good sources of dietary fiber, vitamin C and potassium. The buttery fruit is a top source of vitamin E, a potent antioxidant, and also provides lutein, an antioxidant that can keep eyes healthy.
Hass Avocados are a popular variety avocado in the United States. The slightly bumpy skin turns from green to purplish-black as it ripens. A slightly over-ripe avocado is still great for quacamole.
Almost all avocados grown in Mexico are Hass, the variety preferred for its high oil content and tough protective skin.
Don’t buy a green Hass avocado that doesn’t have the “button”—the tip of the stem—still attached. Sometimes the button falls off an avocado when it‘s ripe, but the remaining indentation should still be green. If the indention is black, the avocado may be rotten.
Hass avocados don’t begin to ripen until they are picked. A hard, green avocado will need about a week to ripen. If it’s green-black and slightly soft, it’ll ripen in a few days. One that’s black and soft is ready to eat. Ripen a hard avocado by leaving it at room temperature until its skin has turned from green to black and it yields to gentle pressure.
Americans consume some 50 million pounds of avocados on Super Bowl Sunday—enough guacamole to cover an entire football field to a depth of nearly 12 feet.
A single avocado tree can reach 80 feet and yield 100 to 400 fruits each year.
Good for the Environment: A mature avocado tree absorbs up to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide per year—enough to offset 26,000 car miles. This makes avocados a more environmentally friendly source of fat than dairy, since a single cow produces the equivalent of about 2.75 tons of CO2 per year—so go for guacamole instead of sour cream on your taco!
Avocado blossoms are pollinated by honeybees, providing a bonus crop: reddish avocado honey.
Long-lived avocado trees can be productive for decades, creating a canopy and root system that maintains the soil and provides habitat for birds.
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