The avocado refers to a fruit that is commonly pear-shaped, but is also at times spherical or egg-shaped. This fruit is also known as the alligator pear and has the scientific name Persea Americana. The avocado tree is most commonly found in Central Mexico, as it is a native plant of the country. This fruit is classified to be in the same family as cinnamon, bay laurel and camphor.
The Nutritional Value of the Avocado
Typically, an avocado contains high levels of fat, particularly monounsaturated fats. In fact, around 75% of the calories that are obtained from an avocado come from fat. Avocados have relatively more potassium than bananas. This fruit is also an abundant source of vitamin-B complex, vitamin K and vitamin E.
An avocado also has high fiber content – both soluble (25%) and insoluble (25%). Avocadene, a fatty alcohol (triol) is also found in this fruit. This fatty alcohol is known to have anti-bacterial properties. A study has shown that regular consumption of avocadoes lowers the level of blood cholesterol. People who had mild hypercholesterolemia went onto a 7-day avocado rich diet and were observed to have lowered blood cholesterol levels. The same participants were also observed to have reduced LDL (low-density lipid) and triglyceride levels, and increased HDL (high-density lipid) levels.
The Avocado’s Use in Cuisines
The avocado fruit is not sweet but subtly flavored. It has a smooth and creamy texture that makes it suitable for use in sweet or savory dishes. Avocadoes are generally served raw although there are also times when it is included as an ingredient in dishes. For instance, avocadoes are used as the base for guacamole, a popular Mexican dip. Avocadoes are also used as spreads on toast or corn tortillas, and then served with spices. In other countries, like the Philippines, avocadoes are often used in fruit shakes (or milkshakes) or are sometimes added to ice cream.
Possible Risks of Eating Avocadoes
In humans, the possible risk that avocadoes can bring is if the person who consumed it is allergic to that particular fruit. Other than possible allergic reactions, there have not been any reports about any serious medical conditions triggered from eating avocadoes.
In animals however, the avocado tree, its leaves and the fruit can be potentially toxic. Dogs, cats, cattle, rabbits, birds, horses, rats, goats and birds can all become seriously ill if they consume any part of the avocado plant. In fact, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has listed the avocado as a toxic plant to animals including dogs, cats and horses.