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Nutrition tip: Avocado
01.9.2017
Nutrition tip: Avocado
"According to the American Heart Association, “an avocado a day may keep bad cholesterol at bay”. Numerous other sources also report on the superfood and its benefits. Here we explore the health benefits of this fruit. (Foto:©backaldrin)

Botany


The avocado is a plant species from the family of laurel plants. The tree can grow to a height of 15 metres and has its origins in southern Mexico. The fruit has been cultivated in Central America for over 10,000 years, but in the Mediterranean region only since the 20th century. The avocado tree is evergreen, fast-growing and grows well in warm areas with a drier climate. The fruit is usually picked unripe and hard, when large enough. Avocados ripen naturally after they have been picked. This process can be accelerated by the ripening gas ethylene, which makes the fruit creamier, reduces the initial grassy flavour and adds to the typically nutty, fatty taste.

Types


The more than 400 commercial varieties have all been created by breeding and crossing three original types:
  • Mexican: with a thin black-purple peel and a high fat content
  • Guatemala: with a medium fat content
  • West Indies: with a low fat content

In our shops, we mainly find the world’s most widely-spread type, the Fuerte avocado, a pear-shaped avocado with a medium-green peel and pale yellow flesh that is greenish at the edges. In France and the USA, however, the Hass variety dominates the market. This fruit is smaller and rounder than the Fuerte and has a thick, rough peel.

Good for the heart


Avocados are rich in monounsaturated oleic acid. An avocado a day is good for the heart and, in particular, cholesterol levels. This was shown in a study conducted on overweight and obese participants. The researchers investigated the effect of avocados on the risk of heart disease by replacing saturated fatty acids in an average American diet with unsaturated fatty acids from avocados. The group consisted of 45 healthy, overweight or obese individuals, aged 21 to 70, who participated in three different cholesterol-lowering diets. Two groups followed a low-fat diet for five weeks. The third group had one avocado per day added to their diet. For those who ate an avocado a day, the “bad” LDL cholesterol decreased by 13.5 mg/dl. By comparison, in the two groups with the low-fat diet, the value decreased by 8.3 mg/dl or 7,4 mg/dl, depending on the fat content of the diet.

A cocktailof fat-soluble vitamins


When foods containing beta carotene (carrots, tomatoes, pumpkins, apricots and sweet potatoes) are eaten in combination with avocados, the beta carotene can be absorbed up to 2.4 times more than without avocado. In addition, the conversion to vitamin A quadruples. Beta carotene is the precursor of vitamin A. In a further study, researchers investigated the effect of avocados when consumed in combination with raw carrots. The intake of beta carotene increased 6.6-fold, and the conversion to vitamin A 12.6-fold. Avocados also contain vitamin K, which is necessary for blood clotting. Additionally, they are particularly rich in vitamin E, which is an effective antioxidant and protects the cells from free radicals.
On top of everything else, avocados contain plenty of potassium and fibre. In 100 grams of avocado, there is 550 mg of potassium (a quarter of the daily requirement) and 6.3 grams of dietary fibre (one-fifth of the daily requirement).

Strenghten the immune system


Because they contain antioxidants and also influence cell growth, avocados have an anti-inflammatory effect and reduce the risk of cancer.

Ready to eat


If you have bought a Hass avocado, you will see that the peel blackens as it ripens. The fruit should yield slightly when pressed. Fuerte avocados, on the other hand, should never be black. Black spots on the peel are an indication that the fruit is, at least partially, spoiled.
Other available varieties in Central Europe include Bacon, Ettinger, Pinkerton, Reed and Ryan. With all these varieties, the following applies: hold the avocado in your hand. If it yields to gentle pressure, it can already be consumed. To ripen an avocado, wrap the unripe fruit in newspaper and leave it at room temperature.

If you would like to find out more about the topic of avocados, we recommend the following website:
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

Wenn Sie Fragen, Wünsche, Anregungen oder Tipps haben, steht Ihnen auch das Kornspitz-Team gerne zur Verfügung. Schreiben Sie ein Mail an marketing@kornspitz.com.

Mag. Gerda Reimann-Dorninger
Nutrition Scientist

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