Though avocados are made available through out the year, they reach their prime best mainly during spring and summer. Obtained from the tall evergreen tree Persea Americana, Avocados are mainly classified into three prominent groups -Mexican, Guatemalean, and West Indian. Colloquially, avocados are known as the ‘Alligator Pear’, due to their tough leather-like appearance.
The fruit is rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that helps in bringing down the cholesterol level. Oleic acid is found to provide significant protection against breast cancer. It is also a very strong dietary source of the carotenoid lutein. Apart from these; it also contains measurable amounts of related carotenoids such as zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. Significant quantities of tocopherols (Vitamin E) are also found in avocados.
Due to this reason avocados find place in the diets prescribed for obese people with high levels of cholesterol. Increased intake of avocados promotes the beneficial HDL cholesterol and makes a significant decrease in the level of the harmful LDL cholesterol.
Avocados are also rich in the mineral salt potassium and thus help in the effective regulation of blood pressure. It also protects the body from coronary and
circulatory irregularities. A mere cup of avocado will see to it that the body’s daily folate requirements are met. Folate is yet another important factor that ensures coronary health. It is found that people who consume more of folate-rich food materials such as avocados are less under the threat of cardiovascular diseases or strokes. Adding avocado to fresh salads increases absorption of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lutein at the rate of 7.2, 15.3, and 5.1respectively. Phytonutrients present in Hass avocados, the most popular of all varieties, are found to be effective in checking oral cancer.
When buying avocados, search for those with a slight neck rather than a rounded top since the necked ones are those that have been naturally ripened. Ready to eat avocados will be a bit soft and will have no dark cracks.