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The mighty avocado

An avocado is actually a fruit and the word comes from the Aztec word “ahuacatl” meaning ‘testicle’….they also grow in pairs…..Cinco de Mayo, celebrated in Mexico and the US , is one of the biggest days for avocado consumption in the year.

Avocados contain a wealth of good fats from oleic acid – like olive oil- and essential omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. It contains carotenoids (health giving chemicals) that are also found in other colourful fruit and vegetables but the magical thing about an avocado is that the combination of the fats and the carotenoids (a famous one you may have heard of will be lycopene in tomatoes) mean that our bodies can make better use of the carotenoids! The fat helps the body to absorb them. So…….that also means when we eat other vegetables that contain carotenoids such as carrot, spinach, kale or sweet potato (amongst others) we should try mixing it up with an avocado just to get that benefit!

An avocado a day has been found to improve blood cholesterol levels because it contains plant sterols ;compounds found in plant cell membranes that resemble cholesterol , they mimic it and compete with it and by doing so lower the body’s production of it. One in particular called beta sterol is thought to be good for enlarged prostrate and potentially hair loss!

Some think it’s a messy thing to eat but there is a perfect way to make sure you get the entire avocado without leaving any in the skin; Cut it in half and twist the two pieces in opposing directions. Remove the stone. Then cut each half in half – take the pointy bit of the skin and peel like a banana – hey presto you have preserved all the wonderful flesh with the carotenoids intact!

Who doesn’t love a bit of guacamole – it is possibly the most famous use of avocado but did you know the Brazilians turn avocado into ice cream and have it as dessert! Experiment with your avocado and try it with a peach, mango or a pear.

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