Food & Drink Muse

Green Goodness: An ode to the Avocado

Alice Weetman explores our obsession with the avocado and the surprising amount of health benefits it can bring.

The humble avocado, now turned superfood, first came to Britain in the late 1960s and wasn’t taken to awfully well. Originally labelled as an “avocado pear”, many treated it as such, which had some unsavoury results. After a few decades of sitting at the back of the shelves in greengrocers and supermarkets, the past decade saw a surge in avocado love-turned-obsession. Avocado pyjamas, plush cuddly avocado toys, avocado bedding, even lattes served out of avocado husks; for some reason we just cannot get enough of this oddly shaped berry (yes, surprisingly it’s classed as a berry!).

The avocado has become increasingly popular over the last ten years, with a growth in clean eating and diets which include a push for good fats, meaning to consume unsaturated fat while steering clear of saturated fat (which has been proven to increase cholesterol and blood pressure).The UK saw the avocado as its third largest sales growth of any grocery item in 2018 and now with its own National Day to celebrate its wonder (which is the 31 July), what can this superfood do other than make a piece of toast a little less boring?

Photo Credit: StockCatalog

What are the benefits?

The simple avocado actually has a surprising amount of health benefits, such as...

It’s a rich source of antioxidant:

Berries tend to have very high levels of antioxidants, and the avocado is no exception. Antioxidants protect cells against damage done by free radicals (unstable molecules produced as a reaction to food break down and environmental pressures.) Although the body does produce its own antioxidants, sometimes there aren’t enough. Increasing antioxidant levels can help repair cell damage from things like UV rays, and re - store a compromised immune system.

They have high levels of vitamin E:

Vitamin E is essential for healthy skin and eyes and it tends to be the main ingredient in skin care products, especially those that claim to have anti-aging properties. It also strengthens the immune system against illness and infection.

It’s a good source for vitamin B and folate:

B vitamins have a wide range of jobs, from maintaining the nervous system and healthy skin, to breaking down food, regulating the release of energy and breaking down fats. Folate does the important job of forming healthy red blood cells.

They’ve got a fair amount of fibre:

Fibre is key for healthy digestion, affecting the way fat is absorbed in the small intestine. It’s also recently been found to naturally
reduce strokes and lower blood pressure, cholesterol and weight levels.

Good Fats:

Avocados contain high levels of unsaturated fat, mainly monounsaturated fat, which is supposedly better for heart health than other fats. According to BBC GoodFood, monounsaturated fats can help prevent heart disease and can lower blood pressure. The high levels of this good fat in avocados has also proven to aid appetite regulation, as it leads to longer feelings of satiety, and half an avocado is one of your 5 a day!

Not only is the avocado actually incredibly good for your body but it’s also very versatile, easily used in recipes for both sweet and savoury dishes.Originally rooted in SouthCentral Mexico, the avocado has been around since 7 000 BC, with Peruvian archaeologists finding Incan mummies buried with domesticated avocado seeds, dating back to 750 BC. Then, in the late 1800’s, the avocado was successfully introduced to the US, with commercial crops being grown in California. Now the avocado is grown in North America, Europe and even the Middle East. It seems the avocado has been welcomed into a variety of cultures as an addition to any cuisine.

Their creamy texture can be a fabulous substitute for dairy, being a favourite in vegan desserts such as ice creams and mousses. As a post-gym snack, cracking an egg into the stone hole of a halved avocado and then baking it is a delicious and nutritious way to aid muscle building and recovery. They’re perfect to pop into a smoothie when you’re on the go, or they can be simply thrown on a salad to add an extra boost of nutrition. The possibilities of what you can do with a little avocado are endless. A quick Google search will lead you to hundreds of avocado-based recipes, or you could simply scour through the 9.1 million avocado hashtags on Instagram for inspiration.

Either way, the avocado has definitely proven itself as one of the most popular foods of the 21st century. So maybe the hype around this oversized green berry is warranted! And maybe it does deserve to be plastered all over the market place. The avocado truly is a weird, yet wonderful fruit, rich with history and vitamins and minerals.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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