The word ‘avocado’ comes from the Mexican Spanish aguacate which in turn comes from the Nahuatl word ahuácatl (scrotum, a reference to the shape of the fruit).
Avocados were known by the Aztecs as ‘the fertility fruit’. In some countries of South America, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay, the avocado is known by its Quechua name, palta. In other Spanish-speaking countries is known by the Mexican name and in Portuguese it is abacate. The fruit is sometimes called an avocado pear or alligator pear (due to its shape and the rough green skin of some cultivars). The Nahuatl ahuacatl can be compounded with other words, as in ahuacamolli, meaning avocado soup or sauce, from which the Mexican Spanish word guacamole derives.
Avocado or Persea Americana is a part of the plant family Lauraceae. The tree is native to Mexico and is usually grown in the Western Hemisphere from Mexico south to the Andean regions. The tree, tall and spreading, has leaves elliptic to egg-shaped in form and 4 to 12 inches in length. The small greenish flowers born in dense racemes are devoid of petals and have six perianth lobes, nine stamens arranged on three series, a one-celled ovary. The fruit varies in shape, size and colour. It looks like hen’s egg and it varies from round to pear shaped with a long slender neck. The colour ranges from green to dark purple. The single large seed with two cotyledons is round to conical.
Horticulturally, avocados are divided into Mexican, West Indian and Guatemalan varieties. The Mexican variety is characterized by the anise-like odour of the leaves and thin skinned fruits of rich flavour and excellent quality. The Guatemalan type is slightly less frost resistant than the Mexican and produces fruit of medium to large size. The West Indian type is grown in southern Florida and throughout the Caribbean.
Benefit and uses of Avocado.
- Avocado is used traditionally to heal skin problems.
- Avocado has been used traditionally to help people with sexual problems.
- Avocado usefulness in human weight control, high nutritional density, source of major antioxidants, stroke prevention, fruit protein source, fiber source.
- The avocado’s high monounsaturated fat content benefits arteries.
- Eating avocados daily for three weeks improved blood cholesterol in middle-aged women better than a low-fat diet.
- Eating avocados, heart patients could cut their risk of heart attack 10-20 percent and death rates 4-8 percent in 3-5 years.
- Eat an avocado everyday if you’re recuperating from sickness and are trying to regain your strength.