website creator I just returned from the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) in San Francisco. The conference was good, the weather was perfect (sunny and 21°C) and the food was excellent. California boosts an incredible agriculture landscape. I’m sharing my love for avocados in this blog. I specifically love their smooth, creamy texture and I like using avocados as a spread.

What is the alligator pear?

Avocados, also known as the “alligator pear,” are grown in tropical climates, with Mexico currently as the largest producer. They have green leathery skin, and fleshy pear-shaped bodies. Botanically, avocados are fruits that grow on trees, and commercially, they ripen after harvesting. Although avocados are not particularly sweet or flavourful, they have a distinct taste. They are eaten alone, used to make foods such as guacamoles, salads, salsas and added to sandwiches, soups and other Mexican inspired dishes.

California Avocados

California Avocados are grown along the microclimatic coast of central and southern California between San Luis Obispo and the Mexican border. They are harvested annually from spring through the fall by nearly 5,000 growers on 50,000 acres of land. Due to their thick, pebbly skin, the fruit inside of a California Avocado is naturally protected, placing California Avocados amongst the lowest of all fruits and vegetables for pesticide use.

What are Hass Avocados?

Each variety of avocado has their own varietal characteristics. Hass Avocados are one of the more common varieties of avocado. Patented August 27, 1935 by Mr. Rudolph Hass, U.S. Plant Patent No. 139. Hass Avocados are known as the “year-round avocado” because of their seasonal availability. They also have a distinctive skin that turns from green to purplish-black when ripe.

Avocados and Nutrition

In the past with the traditional food guide meal plans, avocados have been avoided due to the fat content. However, we have discovered avocados are very nutrient dense foods with a many health benefits. One medium sized avocado contains 322 calories 29g of fat, 4g of saturated fat, 17g of carbohydrates, 13g of dietary fibre, 1g of sugar, and 4g of protein.  Avocados are good sources of copper, folate, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. They are also high in carotenoids, phytosterols, and flavonoids. It may also be worthy to note that on a weight by weight basis, avocados have more potassium than bananas.

Avocados and Heart Health

Fat

  • The fatty acid profiles of avocados lead to many health benefits. Avocados contain mostly monounsaturated fats, which help promote healthy blood lipid (fat) profiles. In one study, 24 participants with high cholesterol consumed specific diets either high in monounsaturated fat, or low in monounsaturated fat (1). After a month, for those who consumed a diet high in monounsaturated fat, there was an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol and the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol was reduced by 6.5%. There was no difference recorded in the low monounsaturated fat group (1).

Vitamins

  • Various vitamins work together in improving cardiovascular health. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in slowing down LDL (bad) cholesterol oxidation (2). Vitamin C is involved in vascular health, as well as arterial plaque stabilization (2). Finally, potassium is involved in regulating blood pressure (2).

 

I predict there will be new research identifying more health benefits of avocados – stay tuned!

Avacado eggs-3-ways

Recipe

My love for avocados includes enjoying them at breakfast. Try this delicious California Avocado Toast Three Ways from CaliforniaAvocado.com

How do you like to eat avocados?

 

References

1.Jenkins DJA et al. Adding monounsaturated fatty acids to a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods in hypercholesterolemia. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2010;182(18):1961-1967.

2. Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. 2012. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.