What Are the Origin, Supply Chain, and Culinary Use of Avocados?
Avocados, or alligator pears, are popular global fruits with a characteristic creamy smooth textured flesh and rather bumpy skin. They are part of versatile global food culture with an array of dishes. Avocados, unlike other natural fruits (with a sweet taste), are botanically classified as berry fruits, possessing a singular central pit, and grow on the Persea Americana tree. They are considered members of the Lauraceae family (which includes the common cinnamon tree).
These fruits are traditional ingredients in most Mexican, Central, and South American cuisines. In fact, avocados are extensively used for dishes like guacamole, salads, tacos, etc. Because of their highly nutritious content and density, these fruits are linked to several systemic health benefits. The neutral flavor of these fruits has been used in preparing even sauces, dressings of salads, and sandwiches, or as ingredients for baked goods and add-ons over grain dishes to enhance the food texture.
Depending on the variety, avocados are round or pear-shaped, small or large, with green or blackish exteriors. The skin is typically bumpy, while the flesh, in a ripened fruit, is rather buttery. Avocados originate from Mexico or Central America, with Mexico as the leading producer and exporter of this earthy fruit globally.
What Is the Nutrient Content of Avocados?
Avocados are highly nutrient-dense fruits, but most people do not know how to use them in their daily diet and often refrain from using them altogether. The nutritional breakdown for 200 gms of avocado (approximately 6.5 to 7 ounces of fruit) is listed below.
(DV stands for the contribution of the daily value of nutrient intake in humans).
What Are the Health Benefits of Avocados?
Avocados are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and fibers and are anti-inflammatory, contributing to a healthy dietary addition for maintaining cardiovascular immunity.
Research and clinical trials have demonstrated that even half an avocado can provide up to
Due to the presence of the phytochemicals Lutein and Zeaxanthin, consuming avocados may be beneficial in the following:
Minimizing potential eye damage due to UV radiation.
Diet and weight management.
Healthy weight loss routine.
Part of vitamin supplements.
Antioxidants in avocados are efficient for the following:
Some nutritionists also recommend consuming ripened avocados during pregnancy as a nutrient and mineral-rich source alongside the additional benefit of contributing to pregnancy-folate requirements.
Research also implies that high folate levels in avocados may be useful against depression.
Most nutritionists deem avocado oil as nutritious as olive oil, as both are rich in oleic acid. However, avocado oil has an added benefit that gives the dressings or dishes a slightly more neutralized flavor.
How to Store Avocados?
Avocados are climacteric fruits that continue to ripen or can be stored even post-harvest. The most common variety of avocados available is the Hass avocado, which is popular and available year-round in the global food market. Only ripened avocados can be chosen for general consumption, and they should not be yellow in color when purchased. One must choose a ripe one that is ideally dark green or blackish in color. Avocados tend to change their color after purchase, usually within a few days. Some tips are necessary to reduce browning, especially after they are cut.
The flesh of the avocado can be covered by lemon or lime juice.
The cut or purchased unused avocado can be sealed tightly in a plastic wrap or airtight container and then stored in the refrigerator to prevent environmental exposure that causes browning by oxidation.
Avocados can be stored in airtight containers along with onions, as the sulfur compounds in onions help preserve and extend avocados' life.
How to Use Avocados?
Avocados can be cut, diced, and then used in salads, soups, tacos, whole grain meals, sandwiches, crackers, etc. Avocado oil can be used for vegetable or salad dressings. Avocado smoothies are very popular and are a rich nutrient source if not made with sugar. These can also be a part of DASH diets (a healthy diet plan to prevent hypertension), modern-day Mediterranean diets, and cardioprotective diets, which are good additions to antioxidant fruits like blueberries and seeds like flax, hemp, etc.
Avocados can also be used, most commonly in the preparation of a homemade salad or dressing:
To a quarter cup of avocado oil, whisk or blend two tablespoons of Dijon mustard and four teaspoons of balsamic or apple cider vinegar, and combine this with any vegetable salads or dressings and add sprinkle with low sodium spices like black pepper or garlic powder.
To conclude, avocados are not only nutrient-dense fruits but also offer numerous systemic health benefits on regular consumption and can be easily added to the diet as recommended or suggested by a dietician or nutritionist.