Scientifically known as Persea Americana, avocados have been one of the primeval fruits consumed in Mesoamerica. The earliest archaeological evidence of avocado consumption comes from Coxcatlan region of Puebla, central Mexico, which was almost 10,000 years ago. From here, avocados were domesticated and spread from North to South America, Europe and to the rest of the world.
Today, avocado is one of the world’s most important and traded tropical fruits, with Mexico as its major producer. It is also one of the most nutritious fruits and one of the top super foods that could offer remarkable health benefits. Aside from the Aztecs, the ancient inhabitants of Mexico, a lot of Mesoamerican people had cultivated and domesticated avocado trees. These people include the Maya, the Mokaya and the Olmec. However, the Aztecs are most renowned for consuming avocados in the form of the famous Mexican dip, guacamole. This dish up until now had been enjoyed by a lot of people. Moreover, archaeological evidences suggest that avocados were exported from Mexico to different portions of America and Europe including Ecuador and Northern Peru.
Why Avocados are hailed as One of the Ancient and Remarkable Super Foods?
- According to recent research, avocados could significantly increase the body’s ability to absorb two major carotenoid antioxidants, lycopene and beta carotene. When one cup of fresh avocados (150 grams) or avocado oil is incorporated into a salad of romaine lettuce, spinach, and carrots, our absorption of carotenoids from this salad is increased between 200-400%.
- Despite their deep green skins and light green flesh, avocados are one of the excellent sources of carotenoids. Research has shown that the highest concentration of carotenoids in avocados is found just beneath their skins, in the primary layer of the dark green flesh. Hence, we should peel avocados the same way we would peel a banana by following a method called the nick-and-peel method. First, slice the avocado lengthwise. You’ll have two halves with the seed still attached in the mid portion. Hold both halves and gently twist them in opposite ways until the both halves detach. Remove the seed, and slice each of the halves into long quartered sections. Now, with this long quartered avocado section, you can naturally peel off their skins by just using your hands. Researchers believe that avocado's amazing array of carotenoids is a major aspect in the anti-inflammatory properties of this fruit. The list of carotenoids found in avocados includes well-known beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lutein, as well as many lesser known carotenoids like neochrome, neoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and violaxanthin.
- Avocados are high in fats, but they contain the good fats. The essential fats contained in avocado are extraordinary, providing us with research-based health benefits. They contain three types of essential fats. The first ones are the phytosterols that control inflammation. Second are the polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFA’s), which also provide anti-inflammatory benefits. The anti-inflammatory benefits of these fats found in avocados are most renowned for managing problems involving arthritis. Last but not the least is the oleic acid, which is responsible for increasing the digestive system’s ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like carotenoids and lycopene.
- The ability of Avocados to fight and reduce inflammation is due to five basic nutrient categories:
1. Phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, and campesterol
2. Carotenoid antioxidants, including lutein, neoxanthin, neochrome, chrysanthemaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, violaxanthin , beta-carotene and alpha-carotene
3. Avocados’ other (non-carotenoid) antioxidants, including the flavonoids epicatechin and epigallocatechin 3-0-gallate, vitamins C and E, and the minerals manganese, selenium, and zinc
4. Omega-3 fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, in which you can obtain approximately 160 milligrams per cup of sliced avocado)
5. polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFA’s)
- According to researches, consumption of avocados may improve several metabolic aspects of the heart health, including levels of inflammatory risk factors, levels of oxidative risk factors, and blood fat levels, as well as level of total cholesterol. Moreover, it is not unknown to us that heart health is primarily improved by intake of oleic acid (the primary fatty acid in avocado) and of omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in avocados in the form of alpha-linolenic acid.
Find out more about avocados and its nutritional profile here.