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Avocados

AVOCADO: ALL YOUR NEED TO KNOW

You have eaten a lot of it but perhaps don’t know what benefits it gives to your body. You’ve listened to a number of food experts and dieticians reeling out big nutritional clichés about it. But because you’re not familiar with the niche, you probably don’t get what is being talked about.

What about many of the popular television shows you have followed in the past, especially during the flu season? Or the amount of time you have spent in an elaborate education program about this fruit?

Summer is here on us, that time of the year when we showcase all we care about avocado. It is moment to unravel those myths and bring you detailed information you need to know about Avocado, arguably, the most beneficial and richest plants for nutritional, medicinal and health value.

In this fair, we’ve focused on avocado, a lively fruit in daily meals. You’ve got to live healthier, focus better, and have reason to be more active. There are a lot of programs out there young minds can participate in and be encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables and practice a healthy, active lifestyle.

Exploring the world of Avocado?

Naively, many people classify avocados as green vegetables because it is commonly used in salads and because it has a savory vs. sweet flavor ; they are indeed fruits as they contains a tough outer layer, a fleshy middle, and a casing around a seed. Avocados are a global fruit and consumed in different various ways across the world. Avocado is the commonest tropical fruits. It contains fat soluble vitamins that many other fruits do not contain. It is an energetic fruit with high nutritional value. Avocados are fruits harvested from the avocado tree, scientifically known as Persea americana.

Avocado is a fruit incredibly high in protein, rich in potassium and unsaturated fatty acids. It also contains Vitamins A and B, plus average levels of vitamins D and E. Avocado pulp contains uneven oil content, and has been a raw material in many pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry. It is used in the commercial production of oils, similar to olive oils (Bleinroth & Castro, 1992).

Avocado tree and climatic conditions

The avocado tree, or alligator pear-tree’, as it is traditionally called, has a very high fruit yield, producing 138kg within 7 years of planting (Bleinroth & Castro, 1992). This evergreen tree is a biennial and perennial plant which can be grown on tropical rough locations, unlike the annual plants that germinate well on flat lands. Avocado trees have their own growth and germination conditions under which they survive. The main climatic requirements are temperature and rain fall. Although each variety of the fruit behaves differently based on their race, avocados, generally, which are known to be non-resistant to freezing temperatures, survive in tropical and subtropical climates. However, the Hass variety is developed to withstand freezing temperatures of about 31F, thus making it available for all year round.

How Avocado Trees Grow

At maturity, avocado trees can grow as tall as 65 to 80 feet and have the capacity to produce as many as 400 pieces of fruit within a year. The tree ¾if grown from seed¾starts to produce fruits between five to 20 years after planting. Avocado tree bears fruits every two years, making it one of the best biennial-bearing fruit trees.  Depending on the planting conditions including climate, soil, rainfall/irrigation, temperature/sunlight, care, etc., avocado tree can produce heavy crops in its bearing seasons. However, if not adequately and modestly furnished with good planting conditions, the tree may produce heavy crops in one harvest year and poor yields in the next.

Growers who want to see their avocado tree produce fruits within the first one year of planting often plant their commercial avocado orchards using the grafting method. Grafting consists of using grafted trees and rootstocks in which case the particular species to be planted is attached to another one, thus disallowing self-pollination. Today, most of the grafted, that is cultivars, are propagated without seed reproduction.

Harvesting Avocado fruit

Usually, avocado fruits fall off the tree and do not ripen on the tree. Large commercial avocado cultivators prefer (and this is the ideal method) picking unripe avocado fruits and ship them to store where they get fully ripe.

Growing factor Specifications
Soil Loose, decayed granite or sandy loam; well-drained; mulch layers
Temperature 60 to 80 F
Exposure Full sun; protected from wind
Irrigation Humid, Moist
Planting 10 feet (minimum) in all directions
Propagation Terminal or lateral grafting of seedling rootstocks
Harvesting Hand-harvest by clippers attached to poles

Races and Locations of Avocado

The Antillean race, the commonest of the avocado tree originates from the lowland regions of South and Central America. This race yields one of the largest fruits of piriform nature, with low oil content that is less than 8%. This race also prides in its high resistance to low temperatures, sustaining up to -2°C.

A Slice of History, production and consumption of Avocado

  • Avocado was originally named “agovago pears” after the tree ‘alligator pear-tree’ due to the fruit’s dark, stony membrane and pear-like shape. Later, it was later given the name “avocado” by Irish Sir Hans Sloane. The tree is native to tropics of Central and South America and the fruit has been used as food in Mexico and South America for centuries. The tree originated in Southern Mexico and Columbia circa 5,000 B.C.E.
  • By the middle of the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors who had travelled all the way to Mexico were handed avocados by the Aztecs and Incas upon their advent in Central America. However, by the start of the 19th century, avocados had found its way to southern Europe, as well as the Hawaiian Islands, Africa and Southeast Asia.
  • The introduction of the avocado tree in the United States was in mid 19th century (1833) by Judge Henry Perrine, and the tree landed in Florida.
  • By 1956, the tree was imported by Dr. Thomas White of the California State Agricultural Society from Nicaragua, California to Los Angeles, giving birth to the establishment of the California avocado industry as early as the 1870s. This was after the avocado trees brought from Mexico to Santa Barbara had produced fruits. 
  • In the United States, California, Florida, and Hawaii are states with the largest avocado cultivation. California grows more than 95 percent of American avocados.
  • Brazil stands 9th largest avocado producer, with 160,400 tons harvested in 2011 from 10,750 hectares of land. São Paulo state of Brazil is the largest producer with 47.5% production rate; it is followed by Minas Gerais with 19.0%, and Paraná, 11.2% (Almeida & Sampaio, 2013).
  • Production of avocado has increased globally due to advances in cultivation and harvest technologies, as well as decline in trade barriers, strong health related benefits, and increased incentives including land availability and in producing and potential countries
  • In Asia, Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia take the lead in avocado consumption. The Philippines have a unique way of making and serving the avocados. The avocados are pureed with sugar and milk. Taiwan avocados are also served with milk and sugar. Indonesia follows similar form but consumers make the fruit into a drink and served with milk and coffee.
  • The United States produces 6% of the world’s avocado crop, ranking third behind Mexico and Chile. It is a staple fruit in America. Consumers are said to love the Hass variety of avocado because of its rich, creamy texture.

Quick Fact Check About Avocado

  • In 2011 world avocado production reached a peak of 4.4 million tons, increasing from 3.5 million (20%) figure in 2007 (FAO, 2013).
  • In 2016, more than 140 million pounds of avocados were consumed in America on Super Bowl Sunday alone.
  • Chile, with 8.5% global avocado production capacity, is ranked second largest producer of avocado after Mexico which accounts for 25% of world avocado production (FAO, 2013).
  • Avocado is the only fruit that contains all the food classes (carbohydrates, protein and fat) as well as huge a wide scale of vitamins and minerals.
  • Avocado’s ash or caloric value stands at very high 29.4%, with its nearest competitor being banana, with 25%.
  • The Hass variety of the avocado fruit is the most exported globally, averaging size-wise at 180 to 300g (Borges & Melo, 2011).
  • Avocado is the 17th most produced fruit in Brazil (Almeida & Sampaio, 2013).
  • There are more than 80 different species of avocado found in California alone, with the Hass avocado the most popular.
  • In 2014 alone, Americans ate more than 4.25 billion avocados, with Los Angeles consuming the most.
  • Mexico has the best tropical climate for the growth of the fruit. Mexican avocado fans use the leaves as flavours for wraps for tamales.
  • The United States of America consumes the highest number of avocados in the world. The consumption of avocado in America is in the form of guacamole (crushed avocado mixed with onion tomato, chilies, etc).
  • Avocado trees are known to have relatively low demand for nutrients.
  • Of the 20 to 25 total grams of fat in avocados, 15 grams is monounsaturated fat.

Variety of Avocado at a Glance

Variety Important Basic Facts
Hass Pear to void. Small to medium sized
5–12 oz. Tough and leathery skin. Dark purple or nearly black when ripe. This variety was grown and developed by avocado grower Rudolph Hass in 1932, going to become the dominant variety in California and across the entire world.  It has rock-strewn skin and velvety fleshy tissue. Growers prefer to plant it for its disease-resistance and year-round growing cycle. Has a good flavor with 18–22 percent oil. Accounts for 75 percent of the production in California.
Fuerte Pear. Small to medium
8–12 oz. Slightly rough to rough skin. Plenty of small yellow dots on the skin, with the flesh green near the skin. Green fruit, medium skin. Large and widespread tree. The pear shaped fruit. Tastes great but does not grow well in the coastal areas. The skin remains intact in colour even when ripe. Skin doesn’t shine but is easy to peel. Its ripening season is between December and May. Available around July to October.
Bacon Pear to oval. Medium
6–12 oz. Smooth and shiny. Light/thin green skin.  More available in areas with low winter temperatures, between latter part of fall and spring. The skin is easy to peel. Remains more or less intact in colour. medium in height and the fruit has a light taste.
Sharwil Similar to Fuerte but a little more oval. Medium
8–20 oz. Rough but fairly thin skin. Green to dark green when ripened
Wurtz/Wertz Small to medium
6–12 oz. Pear. Thin and shiny skin with small seeds. Dark green when ripe. Medium thick skinned fruit. Tastes good and the tree is great for backyards. Ripes from May to September.
Reed Oval/Round. Thick Skin. Available in the months of summer and fall. Medium seed, thick green skin and a creamy flesh.
Pinkerton Roundish to pear. Medium
8–14 oz. Somewhat leathery and pliable skin. Hefty variety with a stretched figure and small seed. Spreading tree. Produces heavy fruits. Ripens from November to April. Its pale green flesh is covered with a medium thick, slightly pebbly skin which becomes deeper in colour with ripening.
Gwen Rounded in shape with a small seed and gold-green flesh. Slightly bigger in size than Hass, this plump fruit has a golden green flesh. The skin is pebbly but comes off easily.
Zutano Not rich in flavor or creamy in flesh. Its flesh is not as creamy. It has low oil. High in water content. Pear. Thin, glossy skin, sparkly yellow-green membrane. Pale green flesh with a fibrous texture.  Available in the months of September. Its yellowish green, thin skin is a marker. The upright tree produces medium to large fruits. It ripens between November and January.
Lamb Hass A cross between Gwen and Hass. High yielding. Stays upright and produces good quality of fruit. It ripens between April and November and has a nutty taste. Pear, with a flat top or flat shoulder. Large, 10–18 oz. Finely pebbled and slightly less rough and thicker than Hass skin. Unripe fruit is green, while the ripe one becomes black
Ettinger Bears resemblance to Fuerte and is found largely in Israel. Thin, smooth green skin and light green flesh.
Mexicola The shiny black skin is paper thin. The fruit is top notch and ripens between August and October. Its lightly fibrous flesh is rich in taste.
Sir Prize A variant of the Hass, this ripens earlier, in winter.  Upright tree. Resistant to frost. Produces a fruit which does not oxidize when kept cut.
Jim Bacon Similar to Bacon, these trees are just more resistant to frost. The flesh is creamy and the skin is green.
Holiday Brilliant tasting variety. Grows on a smaller tree and has a pear like shape. Derives name from the fact that it grows between Labour Day and New Years.
Stewart Similar to Mexicola in nature, this one’s thin skin becomes black on ripening. Its ripening period is between August and October.

*There are other varieties which include Carmen, Anaheim, Hall, Macarthur, etc. 

By-Products of Avocado

  • Avocado seed produces a number of by-products. The seed can be used in a number of ways but is largely generally underutilized.
  • The seeds represent a large segment of what makes the avocado fruit. While studies have shown that the avocado seed can serve as alternative to trim down the production cost of edible oil, the presence of toxic phenolic compounds is unhealthy.
  • The studies also indicate that the avocado seeds are a great feed for monogastric animals once there is extraction of phenolic compounds and ethanol.
  • Avocado leaves produce phytochemicals which come in the form of apigenin quercetin, rutin, orhamnetin, and luteolin, which serve as preventive substance against the progress of oxidative stress-related diseases. 
  •  The avocado leaves are good ingredients for pharmaceutical purpose, used to treat various diseases. They also come as teas in folk medicine.

Nutrients in Avocado in Daily Value (DV)

Avocados are nutrient rich. Studies from  USDA National Nutrient Database show that, one serving of avocado, which is 1/5 or 40 grams of an avocado, contains: 64 calories, 6 grams of fat, 3.4 grams of  carbohydrate, less than a gram of sugar, and almost 3 grams of fiber. Another study also indicates the level of rich nutrients that avocado contains in one serving 3.5-ounce, (about 100 gram), serving. The nutrients include:

  • Vitamin K: 26% of the daily value
  • Folate: 20% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 17% of the DV
  • Potassium: 14% of the DV
  • Vitamin B5: 14% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 13% of the DV
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the DV
  • Small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous and vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin).

Health benefits of Avocado

Avocados are a stony fruit with a creamy texture that grow in warm climates. Their potential health benefits include improving digestion, decreasing risk of depression, and protection against cancer.

  • Great for metabolic health  

Avocados are highly rich in fibre which is good for weight loss and metabolic health. Plus, fibre is also great in making you satisfied and full between meals and also aids digestion. They help move the digestive tract and lower cholesterol level.

  • Supports Muscles process

Avocado is also very high in potassium, a great electrolyte essential for heart, muscles and body processes.

  • Help body absorb vitamins

They help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. Eating a lot of avocado with salad or different vegetables and helps the body gain a lot of vitamins. 

  • Fights disease

Avocado contains Vitamin E which is also good for immune function.

  • Supports the brain function

Thanks to their healthy fats, avocados give support to the brain and ensure healthy memory.

  • Rich in nutrient

Avocado is highly prized for its high nutrient value, and so is added to various dishes due to its rich flavour and fine texture. It is the main ingredient in guacamole.

  • Keeps blood pressure levels

Avocados contain a lot of potassium. And studies have shown that high potassium intake causes great reduction in blood pressure, a major risk factor for kidney failure, diabetes, cardiac arrest, and strokes. 

  • Loaded with monounsaturated fats

Avocados and avocado oil are filled with monounsaturated oleic acid, a fatty acid good for healthy heart and is known to be one of the main reasons for the health benefits of olive oil.

Domestic Use of Avocados

  • Mayonnaise: The blend of vegan avocado and basil mayonnaise makes a great combination for any sandwich or burger. Creamy avocado potato salad is an excellent nutritional source for your breakfast.
  • Baby food: Avocados are a great source of transitional food for kids from 4 months upwards. Pediatricians often recommend that you start feeding your baby with green vegetables, and avocadoes are in this class of food. Avocados are not only green fruit, they also have a mild flavor suitable for babies.
  • As substitute for butter: Instead of using butter, avocados can take the place perfectly. So you have a softer and chewier baked recipe with avocado puree.  If you replace butter completely, you’ll need to drop the temperature of the oven by a quarter of a 100 percent and increase the baking time. This will prevent the baked item from overheating and loose strength when removed from the oven.
  • Shaving creams: What a perfect way to get rid of artificial shaving creams and reunite with natural cream. Avocado is an effective substitute. A blend of fresh avocado flesh and avocado oil makes perfect natural cream for shaving. They are gentle, moisturizing, non-irritating oil for shaving.
  • Make whipped cream with avocado

Take this simple procedure to have a simple vegan whipped cream. Get one avocado, peeled and seed removed and pour crush it until smooth in your blender with the following ingredients:

  • A piece of peeled seedless ripe avocado
    • ½ cup milk, such as almond, coconut or soy
    • ¼ cup sugar or other sweetener to taste
    • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Ice cream

You can get a variety of ice cream from Avocado. The natural texture of the fruit makes it a perfect recipe for ice cream. You can get avocado banaba ice cream and avocado coconut ice cream.

  • Rehydration solution to sunburnt skin
  • Avocados help to hydrate and rehydrate skin that is falls victim of sunburn. The rich nutrients contained in the fruit give enough support for hydration process. Simply mash the avocado flesh into a smooth pulp under a room temperature and apply it to the sunburnt area of your skin.

Avocado Allergy Information  

No doubt, you can be allergic to avocados, but may not be as much as you find with peanuts or shellfish. They are basically two ways you can be allergic to avocados, namely, oral allergy and latex allergy.

  • Oral allergy occurs when you eat avocado and your body reacts to it as an invader. In that case, the body alerts your immune system resulting most times in itching of lips, mouth and throat.  Oral allergy to avocado could also be triggered if your body is naturally allergic to birch pollen.     
  • Latex allergy is triggered when your body is allergic to latex. It’s a cross-reactivity system which means that they contain similar amount of protein. Symptoms of avocado-latex allergy include lip swelling, sneezing, itching of the eyes,  vomiting, nausea,  stomach  

Managing avocado allergy

There are ways to go about managing symptoms of allergy to eating avocadoes either on your skin or in any part of your body. Avocado allergies are rarely severe.

  • See the doctor.
  • Use food-safe wash to clear off the pesticides and crop chemicals used either in planting or preserving the fruits
  • Choose organic avocados that are not exposed to these surface chemicals.
  • Test your skin for latex allergy
  • Use over-the-couter (OTC) antihistamine for mild symptoms
  • Use OTC cortisone cream for skin irritation
  • Avoid eating avocados if symptoms persist

How to slice, dice and peel avocados

  • Wash avocados before cutting to avoid bacteria and dirt from penetrating into pulp.
  • Use your paring knife from the stem part and gently press down it gets to the pit.
  • Seprate the two halves of the cut avocado by twisting in opposite directions.
  • Strike the pit side with your knife blade to get rid of the pit.
  • Slice the  flesh in horizontal and vertical rows
  • Gently invert the avocado to release the pieces.

How to prevent browning

Browning in avocado occurs when a part of the flesh is exposed to air or sun. This is because some chemical reaction must have taken place with the enzymes of the fruit. There are two or three methods, but the best one if the boil method. Your avocado can stay for several hours even in open air after boiling. 

  • Place your avocado into boiling water for exactly 10 seconds
  • Remove and transfer to an ice bath to cool.

PRIMARY REFERENCES

Duarte, P.F., Chaves, M. A., Borges, C.D., & Mendonça, C.R.B. (2016). Avocado: Characteristics, Health Benefits and Uses. Ciência Rural, Santa Maria, Vol. 46, Number 4, p.747-754.

Proceedings of The World Avocado Congress III, 1995 143 – 159 by E.Lavah

Hughes, Meredith Sayles. 1999. Cool as a Cucumber, Hot as a Pepper: Fruit Vegetables

Farmer’s Market by Marcie Rendon and Cheryl Bellville.

The World’s Largest Plants: A Book About Trees by Susan Blackaby.

Americans in Agriculture: Portraits of Diversity by USDA.

New Junior Garden Book by Felder Rushing.

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman.

OTHER SOURCES:

www.harvestofthemonth.com

www.cfaitc.org/Bookshelf/Bookshelf.php

www.nutritiondata.com 

www.ucavo.ucr.edu

www.cfaitc.org/Commodity/pdf/Avocados.pdf

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