For most people the first time they hear the term “alligator pear”, they are quite perplexed… and understandably so! It’s not a name that is thrown around often. However, once you learn what the name is referring to, then you’ll probably understand why this common fruit can also be called by this strange name.
The alligator pear, or more commonly, the avocado, is used in everything from salads to sandwiches to spreads and everything in between. This versatile fruit is a great addition to any diet and has many benefits. Read on to learn more about one of Ira Riklis’ favorite fruit, how it grew to such fame & power, and how it can benefit your health.
Brief History Of The Alligator Pear
The pebbly-skinned, pear-shaped avocado has been a staple food in Mexico and Central and South American since 500 B.C. Its trees, which are indigenous to the region, are among the most resilient trees, surviving almost any climate conditions. Similarly, the avocado fruit is very hardy and can even thrive in very hot and humid areas of tropical and subtropical regions.
The avocado was very important to the native people of early Mesoamerica as it was believed to have had healing powers. In fact, legend has it that the Aztec people would sacrifice a bull or an ox for every leaf that fell off an avocado tree. The Aztec people did this in order to give thanks to their god Quetzalcoatl.
In the ancient Maya culture, the fruit was often a sign of good fortune and prosperity. In addition to being a symbol of wealth, it was also believed that eating avocados after reaching a certain age would give one access into the spirit world.
By the turn of the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors recognized the prized status of the avocado among the Aztecs and came to love the fruit. However, it wasn’t until the early 1900’s that the avocado was commercially grown in the United States. The fruit became popular with hotels in Los Angeles and San Francisco, with such hotels ordering as many as were available and paying up to $12 per dozen. Currently, about 90 percent of avocados that are grown and harvested in the United States come from California.
Even when we consider all we know about it, the history of the avocado remains full of mystery, though it is quite clear that this interesting fruit was, and continues to be, an important part of many cultures for many thousands of years.
Versatility Of The Avocado
The amazing avocado can be used in a number of ways to complement any recipe. It is firm enough to be diced or pliable enough to be mashed, making it the perfect fruit to be added to a variety of dishes. Among its many uses, avocados are popular for use in the following ways:
- Sliced and served with nuts, apples, and cheese
- Mashed with salt, lime, cilantro, and garlic to create the popular guacamole
- Food for infants straight from the skin
- Blended into drinks mixed with condensed sweet milk
- Delectably added to salads
- Brazilians like to add it to their ice cream
- Californians put avocados in their maki rolls
In modern times, many ancient peoples still use the avocado in recipes. One of the most popular “traditional” drinks is a sort of avocado-limeade mixture. To craft one of these unorthodox drinks, you need fresh lime juice and water to which you then add fresh avocados, blend, and serve chilled as a refreshing drink.
Avocados have a reputation for being high in monounsaturated fat which equals a high calorie content. However, avocados have many health benefits, which also accompany foods like nuts, canola oil, and olive oil. Along with the healthy fats, avocados also contain:
- Vitamins B, C, and E
Because of the nutrients, vitamins and healthy fats they provide, avocados can positively affect your health when you make them a regular part of your diet. Your health will be much better off with this healthy addition by:
- Lowering your cholesterol. Because they are high in beta-sitosterol, a compound known to lower cholesterol, your health will be impacted in a positive way.
- Avocados serve as oral cancer defense. They contain compounds that are able to identify and destroy cancerous and pre-cancerous cells without harming healthy cells.
- The lutein contained in avocados helps your eyes by protecting you from macular degeneration and cataracts, both of which are disabling eye diseases.
- The high concentration of the folic acid contained in avocados can protect women against breast cancer.
- Avocados have a reputation for being a heart-healthy food. This is because one cup of avocado has 23 percent of the recommended amount of folate. Folate is responsible for a lower incidence of heart disease. Because of the high amount of folate, you can also lessen the chances of having a stroke if you add avocados to your diet.
- A significant increase in nutrient absorption has been shown to take place when foods are eaten with avocados. In one study, participants who ate salads containing avocado absorbed five times more carotenoids than those who didn’t eat avocado in their salads.
- Alligator pears also contain omega 3 fatty acids which help neutralize what are known as free radicals, a by-product of oxidative processes in the body, and which are believed to be the source of widespread damage to healthy organs and tissues.
- Avocados are a vitamin E powerhouse. Vitamin E is essential in protecting you from many diseases and maintaining your overall health.
- Avocados are great for the start of the day. If you enjoy a morning coffee, try drinking a healthy glass of avocado and green tea blended together. In the afternoon, try to make a fresh avocado smoothie with fresh blueberries and other fresh fruits.
- Potassium, of which avocados are a good source, is essential for healthy cells, nerves, and maintaining blood pressure. If you don’t consume enough vegetables, you may need to add more potassium-rich foods such as avocados to your diet to help decrease hypertension.
The avocado is a unique fruit with an interesting history. Additionally, the health benefits provided by this nutty fruit cannot be overstated. You can eat it straight off the vine or you can use it in your cooking. Eat avocados just like any other type of fruit and enjoy its amazing taste.
If you want to add a healthy supplement to your diet and reap all the benefits the amazing avocado has to offer, you can find many ways to incorporate this fruit into your diet.