Avocado

Is Avocado a Fruit or Vegatable?

Avocado, also known as alligator pear, is an edible fruit often eaten raw or added to various recipes in numerous cuisines. The tree, originating from Central Mexico, belongs to the Lauraceae flowering plant family  [1].

Table Of Content

Scientific Name

Its scientific name  is Persea americana.

Avocado Picture

Avocado

Other names

In Spanish: Aguacate

In Italian: Avocado

In Chinese: Alligator Pear

In Urdu: Magar Nashpati

In Hindi: Makhan Phal

In Tamil: Veṇṇey, Vennai Pazham

In Telugu: Avekāḍō Paṇḍu

In Bengali: Kulnashpati

In Marathi: Alpukat

In Kannada: Benne-Hannu

In Malayalam: Aathachakka

Description

Shape: Oval or round , almost resembling a pear

Size: It is 3 to 13 inches long and 6 inches wide.

Color: The skin can be yellowish green, dark green, reddish purple or blackish purple and occasionally covered with tiny yellow speckles [3]. It tends to turn darker as the fruit ripens. The flesh immediately underneath the skin can be bright green, with the rest of the flesh ranging from pale to rich yellow in color.

Texture: The skin can be pebbled or smooth, dull or glossy, leathery or thin, granular or pliable and brittle [3] while the flesh has a soft smooth buttery texture.

Flavor and Taste: The mildly sweet fruit has a bland yet nutty flavor.

Seed: The shape of the only seed can be round, oblate, conical or ovoid.

Avocado Seed Photo

Avocado Seed

Avocado Tree Image

Avocado Tree

Where does avocado tree grow?

Apart from Mexico, the trees grow in other tropical and subtropical regions with their range of distribution including United States, Caribbean Islands, India, Italy, Egypt, Spain, Africa and Mauritius [3].

Common Avocado Varieties

  • Lula
  • Hass/Haas [4]
  • Reed
  • Gwen
  • Pinkerton
  • Choquette [4]

Nutrition Facts

The nutritional value for 100 grams of raw avocados is given below [5,6]:

Nutrients Amounts (RDA)
Carbohydrates 8.53 g
– Dietary fiber 6.7 g
– Sugars 0.66 g
Fat 14.66 g
– monounsaturated 9.80 g
– polyunsaturated 1.82 g
– saturated 2.13 g
Water 73.23 g
Protein 2 g
Vitamin A equiv. 7 μg (1%)
– lutein and zeaxanthin 271 μg
– beta-carotene 62 μg (1%)
Biotin 3.60 mcg (1.75%)
Choline 14.20 mg (4.88%)
Folate (vitamin B9) 81 μg (20%)
Vitamin B6 0.257 mg (20%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 1.389 mg (28%)
Niacin (vitamin B3) 1.738 mg (12%)
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) 0.13 mg (11%)
Thiamine (vitamin B1) 0.067 mg (6%)
Vitamin K 21 μg (20%)
Vitamin E 2.07 mg (14%)
Vitamin C 10 mg (12%)
Manganese 0.142 mg (7%)
Magnesium 29 mg (8%)
Iron 0.55 mg (4%)
Calcium 12 mg (1%)
Potassium 485 mg (10%)
Phosphorus 52 mg (7%)
Zinc 0.64 mg (7%)
Copper 0.19 mg (14%)
Iodine 2 mcg (1.95%)
Selenium 0.397 mcg (0.83%)
Sodium 7 mg (0%)
Fluoride 7 µg

How many calories are there in avocado?

Quantity Calories
100 grams 160
1 medium sized fruit (around 150 gm) 240
Photos of Avocado

Avocado Photos

Health Benefits

Prevents heart and coronary artery diseases: Its rich folic acid and vitamin B6 contents help to regulate the homocysteine levels, thus preventing various heart diseases. Increased homocysteine levels are often associated with higher risks of certain heart disorders [7]. It is also rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids (palmitoleic and oleic acids) and omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acid (linoleic acid) that reduce the risk of stroke and coronary artery diseases by lowering the LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and increasing the HDL (good cholesterol) levels, favoring a healthy lipid profile [26]. Other nutrients like vitamin E, monounsaturated fat and glutathione present in the fruit also help to maintain heart health, while the potassium in it is good for maintaining proper heart rate.

Anti-inflammatory effects: The phytosterols (beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol), carotenoid antioxidants (lutein, neoxanthin, beta-carotene), omega-3 fatty acids and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols found in the fruit contribute to its anti-inflammatory effects. It helps to reduce the risks of degenerative and inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis [27]

Controls blood pressure: Hundred grams of the fruit provides around 10% of the daily recommended amount of potassium, thus helping regulate the blood pressure and fighting the negative effects of sodium [26].

Rich source of dietary fibers: Being an excellent source of soluble as well as insoluble dietary fibers, the fruit provides about 18% of the daily recommended fiber intake. This helps to prevent constipation while lowering the blood cholesterol levels. The fibers also protect and promote the mucus layer growth in the stomach, preventing or relieving stomach ulcers.

Regulates blood sugar: The monounsaturated fats in it help to regulate blood sugar levels by reversing the insulin resistance. Its soluble fiber content is also beneficial for maintaining proper blood sugar levels.

Anti-aging properties: Its vitamin E and C contents along with the carotenoids protect the skin from sunlight while maintaining skin’s elasticity and firmness. Other compounds such as lutein, cryptoxanthin, alpha and beta carotenes fight against free radicals, preventing wrinkles and other signs of aging [26].

Cancer prevention: Researches show its anti-cancer effects to be related to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties [27]. The oleic acid in it is beneficial for preventing breast cancer [7] while it also reduces the risks of prostate and skin cancer.

Prevents birth defects: One cup of the fruit provides around 23% of the RDV of folate which is essential for preventing neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

Beneficial for eyes: It contains the antioxidant carotenoid leutein which protects the eyes from damage caused by oxidative stress, reducing the chances of poor vision, macular degeneration and cataracts [28].

Beneficial for skin: Being rich in vitamin A, it helps to get rid of dead skin cells while its glutamine amino acid content cleanses the skin, protecting it against harmful environmental factors [29].

Oral health: It fights bad breath and prevents coated tongue by cleansing the intestines.

Pictures of Avocado

Avocado Pictures

Rich source of Nutrients: Apart from vitamins B6, C and E, it contains high amounts of vitamins A and K. Vitamin K promotes platelet production that helps blood to clot, thus reducing gastric ulcer bleeding [36] to speed up the healing process. Magnesium helps to maintain proper cardiac and bone health while manganese acts as a co-factor for superoxide dismutase, an important antioxidant enzyme. Both copper and iron are essential for RBC production. The mineral content is beneficial for the nervous system as well [10].

Better nutrient absorption: Eating avocados with meals enables the body to better absorb the nutrients (especially carotenoids) [27] from other foods.

Helps to gain and lose weight: It is a good source of calories (3,500 calories in one pound fruit) that helps to gain weight within a short time. Its fiber and fat content also help in weight loss by promoting a feeling of fullness which helps to eat less [30].

Uses

Edible Uses

  • As a substitute for meat products in numerous cuisines due to its high fat content [11]
  • Added in sandwiches, salads and dressings
  • Used as a base while preparing the Mexican dip guacamole [33]
  • Used in California rolls, sushi, chicken delicacies, sandwich spreads, appetizers, milkshakes and ice creams
  • A form of dessert drink is prepared in Philippines using the pureed pulp along with milk and sugar [13]
  • Used as a substitute for fat products such as butter and mayonnaise in baked goods [14]
  • Serves as a nutritional food source for babies aged between 4 to 6 months
  • Chopped avocados are often added to soups for garnishing [33]

Medicinal Uses

  • For treating damaged hair and getting rid of dandruff
  • For curing psoriasis, a skin disorder that causes redness and irritation
  • For preparing a skin cream that treats skin disorders like dermatitis and eczema [39]
  • For preparing a decoction that relieves toothache
  • Concoction prepared from avocado seed, bark and leaves is used for treating dysentery and diarrhea
  • Chewing the leaves can cure pyorrhea (teeth socket inflammation) [40]

Other Uses

  • For manufacturing hair and face masks as well as other cosmetic products
  • For preparing a cream used to get rid of under eye wrinkles
  • Included in diets meant for losing as well as gaining weight [15]
  • A permanent ink made from the seed extracts is used for fabric lettering

Recipes

  • Green Smoothie with Avocado, Spinach, Mango and Banana
  • Zucchini Pasta with Avocado Pesto
  • Vegan Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse [22]
  • Grilled Honey Lime Chicken with Mango Avocado Salsa
Avocado Recipe Image

Avocado Recipe

  • Spinach and Quinoa Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado [18]
  • BBQ Sweet Potato & Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • Deep Fried Avocado Tacos
  • Avocado Salad with Tomatoes, Lime, and Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette [19]
Avocado Salad Picture

Avocado Salad

  • Chilled Avocado Soup with Jalapeno and Lime
  • Chocolate Avocado Pudding [20]
  • Corn, Black Bean, Avocado, and Tomato Salad [21]
  • Banana Avocado Ice Cream
  • Chicken Avocado Egg Salad [23]
  • Avocado Ranch Dip [24]

How to cut and peel an avocado?

It is vital to cut and peel the fruit properly for obtaining the optimum nutritional benefits [16].

  1. First, cut the fruit lengthwise around the seed using a stainless steel knife.
  2. Hold each half and twist them in opposite directions to separate the flesh from the seed.
  3. Gently remove the pit using a spoon or knife.
  4. Slice each half lengthwise into four quarters.
  5. Next, use the index finger and thumb to gently peel the skin off the pieces.

How to cook avocado?

Avocado is mostly eaten raw to preserve its delicate fat content. It is advisable to keep the temperature and duration of cooking as low as possible for preparing the dishes that require heat [34]. Researches show cooking avocado on medium heat in a microwave for 40 seconds keeps its fatty acid profile almost intact.

Avocado Oil

Oil derived from the pulp of the avocado fruit in the cold pressed method [31] is often used for cooking purposes as well as for cosmetic, soap and mouthwash production. Its high  monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat contents make it almost as beneficial as the fruit. The light, refined oil is mainly used for cooking due to its high smoke point (520°F) [32], while the non-refined dark variant  is used in salad dressings, marinades and sauces [17] as it is rich in flavor and nutrients. Being rich in vitamins, proteins and amino acids, the oil helps to moisturize and rejuvenate damaged hair and skin. It also helps to accelerate the healing process of skin problems like psoriasis [7].

Avocado Oil Photo

Avocado Oil

Side Effects

There are generally no side effects when eaten in normal food amounts [25]. However, people hypersensitive to latex may experience allergy symptoms including:

  • Skin reddening
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Eczema
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Vomiting
  • Bronchial asthma [25]
  • Intestinal spasms

The Mexican variety contains estragole and anethole that may lead to serious disorders such as liver damage and cancer, especially in people suffering from liver problems.

Avocados reduce the effectiveness of blood-thinning medicines like coumadin (Warfarin) [38] and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen. The tyramine present in the fruit may increase the risk of high blood pressure when taken with monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOIs (e.g. isocarboxazid) [25]. It may also interact with certain blood-thinning herbal supplements like garlic and ginkgo.

Consuming Avocado during Pregnancy

Its rich folic acid, vitamin and potassium contents make it highly beneficial during pregnancy, especially for the growing baby [37]. However, over-consumption or medical use of the either the pulp or oil may be harmful and call for expert advice. The Guatemalan variety may damage the mammary glands, reducing milk production [25].

Where to Buy

Avocados can be purchased from supermarkets where there is an all round supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. Alternatively, one can also buy them from online fruit sellers. The oil is available at departmental or online stores selling aromatic and essential oils.

How to Store Avocado

Store unripe fruits at room temperature, while whole fruits can be refrigerated for about a week after ripening [12]. To store cut ripe fruits, wrap the pieces in a plastic bag before refrigerating to prevent them from turning brown. Placing the pieces on a dish and wrapping it with a plastic bag before refrigeration also keeps them fresh. Sprinkling the pieces with some vinegar or lemon juice helps to prevent the browning of the flesh due to oxygen exposure. For a longer shelf life, puree the pulp, place it in an airtight container and freeze it. The frozen pulp can be stored for up to 5-6 months.

Interesting Facts

  • Its goodness is celebrated in a number of festivals in California, such as the Fallbrook Avocado Festival and Carpinteria Avocado Festival.
  • It is often considered a “superfood” due to its rich nutritional content.
  • Sometimes, the fruit may remain seedless due to factors like lack of pollination [3].
  • Avocado leaves, bark, the fruit’s skin and pit  is harmful to animals (e.g. dogs, cattle) and birds. [1]
  • The Mexican variety is characterized by a strong anise scent.
  • Although widely regarded as a fruit, avocado is botanically considered a large berry [1].
  • Early Egyptian people first used the fruit pulp for nourishing damaged hair [35].

Pictures

Check out the following image to get an idea of how they look like.

Images of Avocado

Avocado Images

References:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avocado
  2. http://www.healthline.com/natstandardcontent/avocado#1
  3. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/avocado_ars.html
  4. http://ucavo.ucr.edu/AvocadoVarieties/VarietyFrame.html#Anchor-47857
  5. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/688?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=avocado
  6. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrientprofile&dbid=100
  7. http://www.undergroundhealth.com/15-amazing-health-benefits-of-eating-avocados/
  8. http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Lutein-rich-avocado
  9. http://congodrcnews.com/?p=3073
  10. http://www.joannesplace.ca/common/news/news_results.asp?task=Features&id=14712&storeID=A8EE38B87CA544A59D5ABBA906201434
  11. http://www.producepete.com/shows/avocado.html
  12. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5#purchasequalities
  13. http://www.food411.com/newsletters/food411_April_06_Newsletter.php
  14. http://www.nutribuff.com/nutrition/avocados-are-natures-cheese-butter-and-mayonnaise-for-omega-3s/
  15. http://www.3fatchicks.com/5-foods-for-healthy-weight-gain/
  16. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/01/17/avocado-benefits.aspx
  17. http://voices.yahoo.com/the-health-benefits-unrefined-avocado-oil-4635541.html
  18. http://www.skinnytaste.com/2012/03/spinach-and-quinoa-salad-with.html
  19. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/avocado-salad-with-tomatoes-lime-and-toasted-cumin-vinaigrette-recipe/index.html
  20. http://www.fearlesshomemaker.com/2013/05/chocolate-avocado-pudding/
  21. http://centercutcook.com/corn-black-bean-avocado-and-tomato-salad/
  22. http://theveganpact.com/2013/06/raw-chocolate-avocado-mousse/
  23. http://www.taste.com.au/kitchen/recipes/avocado+chicken+and+egg+salad,29507
  24. http://unsophisticook.com/simple-avocado-dip-recipe/
  25. http://www.healthline.com/natstandardcontent/avocado#2
  26. http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/avocados.html
  27. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5#nutritionalprofile
  28. http://www.naturalnews.com/040067_avocado_cancer_prevention_superfood.html
  29. http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/amazing-benefits-of-avocado-for-skin-hair-and-health/
  30. http://www.livestrong.com/article/409833-avocados-for-weight-loss-gain/
  31. http://www.chosen-foods.com/our-products/avocado-oil/
  32. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avocado_oil
  33. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5#howtouse
  34. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5#preptips
  35. http://www.livestrong.com/article/410882-avocado-for-hair-growth/
  36. http://www.livestrong.com/article/403733-good-bad-food-for-gastric-ulcers/
  37. http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/eating-well/week-11/big-nutrition-small-packages.aspx
  38. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-890-AVOCADO.aspx?activeIngredientId=890&activeIngredientName=AVOCADO
  39. http://www.botanical-online.com/english/avocadoremedies.htm
  40. http://www.iron-clay.com/herbal_remedies/avocado.html

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