Spread on toast, slathered on a salad or scooped on a chip, avocados are worth every penny— even though they might cost extra.
These delicious, versatile fruits have soared in popularity over the past decade, appearing on menus throughout the United States. Loaded with fiber, potassium and healthy omega-3 fatty acids, it’s no surprise that avocados are this month’s SuperFood.
Native to South Central Mexico, avocados are believed to have been used since as early as 10,000 B.C. There are over 500 varieties of avocados in the world, from the Hass to the Maluma. The fruits’ rough outer skin has also earned them the name “alligator pear” in some parts of the world. Although the skin is inedible, it’s the perfect natural packaging to take avocados on the go.
Avocado trees can grow up to 40 feet tall, and have a very long lifespan (some trees in Mexico are 400 years old). A single tree can produce up to 500 fruits per year. Avocados trees can’t pollinate on their own — meaning bees are required to carry pollen from one tree to another for them to reproduce, and the resulting fruits grow in pairs. For this reason, avocados became the Aztec symbol of love and fertility.
Not only are avocados packed with vitamins, but they also have the highest protein content of any fruit. Eating avocados reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and liver damage, while promoting eye health, youthful skin, healthy blood sugar levels, cognitive abilities and stronger bones.
Avocado flesh is smooth and creamy in texture with a rich taste. Add it to sandwiches, salads, soups, tacos and everything in between. You can even use the fruit to make smoothies and ice cream.
In some recipes, avocado can serve as a butter substitute (but be careful — it might turn your baked goods green).
Need to ripen an avocado quickly? Place it in a brown paper bag with apples or bananas to speed up the process. (How: the additional fruits release ethylene gas, a natural hormone that helps avocados ripen faster.)
On Super Bowl Sunday, Americans eat over 8 million pounds of guacamole.