Avocado is a delicious and healthful fruit that has more than 80 different varieties. The most popular and easy to grow variety is the Hass avocado; this variety’s original mother tree is still growing in California. The Hass avocado is sometimes referred to as the “alligator pear,” due to its dark green color and rough, wrinkly skin.
Avocados have been used as food for centuries. Spanish explorers first discovered the Aztecs eating them on a daily basis, but shunned them as a tasteless food. It was the Spanish introduced them to the English, who also didn’t consider the fruit very enjoyable.
The first avocado groves in America were planted in Florida in 1833, but did not become a commercial crop until more than half a century later. It then took another fifty years before they finally became a popular salad item, and the health benefits began to be more widely known.
This small fruit is packed with nutrition. It contains:
- Vitamin A – This is important for protecting the immune system as well as keeping the mucous membranes moist so that they remain resistant to cell damage. It protects cells from many types of cancer and helps prevent diseases caused by viruses, such as measles, HIV and respiratory diseases.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is another great immune system booster and helps all the body’s cells heal. It detoxifies the body and helps to prevent cancer and heart disease. Vitamin C also helps to maintain a healthy digestive system and to lower high cholesterol.
- Vitamin E – This vitamin protects the body against free radical damage which can cause cancer and heart disease.
- Folate – Folate helps the body make new cells, which is particularly important for growing children or pregnant women.
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids- These essential fatty acids can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.