Avocado (Persea americana, P. gratissima) is a member of the Lauraceae (Laurel) Family, and sometimes referred to as alligator pear. Avocado is technically a fruit, but combines well with both fruit and vegetables. Native to Central America, it grows in a tropical and subtropical climate. There is evidence that avocado trees flourished some 50 million years ago, in what we now call California and may have been food for dinosaurs. The English word avocado is a corruption of an Aztec word, ahuacacuahatl, meaning testicle tree.
Avocado contains about 20% monosaturated fat, which is better in helping to maintain the beneficial type of cholesterol, the HDL, or high density lipoprotein. Avocado is considered cooling, nourishing to the blood, lubricating to the lungs and large intestines, and harmonizing to the liver. It soothes the bladder in cases of cystitis. It has been traditionally recommend as a remedy for erectile dysfunction, constipation, nervousness and insomnia. Avocado is recommend for convalescence, ulcers, and colitis.
Avocado is rich in vitamin E, B vitamins, beta-carotene, potassium (two to three times that of bananas), fluorine, copper and lecithin. It is considered beautifying to the skin and hair. Avocado can be used in facials and as a hair conditioner, simply mashed applied and left on the face or scalp for ten minutes before rinsing. Especially good for dry conditions.
Those that have a difficult time digesting fats will usually find avocado to be easy to assimilate. An avocado has about 300 calories. Look for fruits that yield when pressed. Placing avocados in a paper bag in a warm area will speed ripening. Once ripe, refrigerate to avoid having them turn rancid. Refrigeration will slow down ripening. Avoid rancid or overripe fruits. Excellent as a garnish, in fruit salad, vegetable salad, sandwich filler, and of course, guacamole. Stuff with chopped celery and a bit of olive oil and lemon juice. There are about five hundred varieties. Florida avocados have about half as much fat as the California varieties. An acre of avocado trees will yield more food than any other tree crop.