|photo via vegkitchen.com|
Did you know that avocados are part of the fruit family? And specifically—the berry? Well, they are. And here’s an even more surprising fact--there are nearly 500 varieties of this creamy, delightful food.
According to whatscookinginamerica.com, avocadoes got their name from Spanish explorers who couldn't pronounce the Aztec word for the fruit, know as ahuacatl, "testicle," (because of its shape). The Spanish called it the aguacate, leading to the guacamole we know today.
And now researchers in Mexico are saying that avocado oil could be used to counteract the effects of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Avocado is already well known for its cholesterol-fighting properties but these research scientists are saying it contains antioxidants that protect cells from damage caused by environmental factors like radiation or air pollution. Good stuff, considering how delicious and versatile these wondrous fruits are.
Avocado's anti-inflammatory nutrients fall into five basic categories:
• phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and campesterol
• carotenoid antioxidants, including lutein, neoxanthin, neochrome, chrysanthemaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, violaxanthin , beta-carotene and alpha-carotene
• other (non-carotenoid) antioxidants, including the flavonoids epicatechin and epigallocatechin 3-0-gallate, vitamins C and E, and the minerals manganese, selenium, and zinc
• omega-3 fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (approximately 160 milligrams per cup of sliced avocado)
• polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PSA)s
We know that heart health is improved by intake of oleic acid (the primary fatty acid in avocado) and by intake of omega-3 fatty acids (provided by avocado in the form of alpha-linolenic acid and in the amount of 160 milligrams per cup). Since elevated levels of homocysteine form a key risk factor for heart disease, and since B vitamins are very important for healthy regulation of homocysteine levels, avocado's significant amounts of vitamin B-6 and folic acid provide another channel of heart support.
The anti-cancer properties of avocado are related to its unusual mix of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients. That relationship is to be expected since cancer risk factors almost always include excessive inflammation (related to lack of anti-inflammatory nutrients) and oxidative stress (related to lack of antioxidants).
Avocadoes are delicious plain, or with a dash of pepper, or just about anything you like. I know someone who likes to put ketchup on them. Maybe some lemon juice or salsa! Just cut one in half and spoon out the deliciously textured fruit. You can also mash and make a variety of mouth-watering guacamoles, or as part of creamy salad dressing (the texture creates the creamy texture of the salad dressing--w/o mayonnaise). Or you can cube or slice and mix into your salads.