Most people are perplexed when they hear the word “alligator pear” for the first time… and rightfully so! It’s not a name that comes up very often. However, if you grasp what the name refers to, you’ll probably understand why this common fruit has such an unusual 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. Continue reading to learn more about Ira Riklis’ favorite fruit, how it came to be so famous and powerful, and how it can benefit your health.
Brief History Of The Alligator Pear
Since 500 B.C., the pebbly-skinned, pear-shaped avocado has been a staple food throughout Mexico, Central America, and South America. Its trees, which are native to the area, are among the toughest in the world, surviving practically any environment. Similarly, the avocado fruit is extremely tough and may even grow in tropical and subtropical climates that are extremely hot and humid.
The avocado was prized by the indigenous peoples of early Mesoamerica because it was thought to have therapeutic properties. According to mythology, the Aztecs would sacrifice a bull or an ox for every avocado leaf that fell from the tree. The Aztecs did this as a form of worship to their god Quetzalcoatl.
The fruit was generally a sign of good fortune and prosperity in Maya society. Avocados, in addition to being a symbol of riches, were thought to grant entry to the spirit realm to anyone who ate them after reaching a certain age.
By the turn of the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors had recognized the avocado’s valued status among the Aztecs and had grown to appreciate it. However, the avocado was not commercially farmed in the United States until the early 1900s. Hotels in Los Angeles and San Francisco became enamored with the fruit, purchasing as many as they could and paying up to $12 per dozen. Approximately 90% of avocados planted and harvested in the United States are grown and harvested in California.
Even with what we know about it, the avocado’s history remains a mystery, despite the fact that it is apparent that this fascinating fruit has been and continues to be a vital component of many societies for 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.