Sometimes referred to as alligator pears due to some varieties’ pear-like shapes and textured green exteriors, avocados are technically a fruit and are botanically considered to be large berries.
Originating in Mexico, the avocado tree thrives in environments with no frost and little to no wind. Once matured, avocados are picked and allowed to ripen, typically in one to two weeks. Now cultivated in various Mediterranean and tropical climates throughout the world, avocado trees are partially self-pollinating and can grow to be 66 feet tall (source).
Currently the most common type of avocado is Hass, accounting for more than 80% of cultivated avocados in the United States (source). Oval in shape with pebbly green-black skin and a small-medium seed, the Hass avocado is easy to peel and ranges in size from 5 to 12 ounces (source). Other popular varieties include:
Bacon: oval in shape with smooth green skin and a medium-large seed, the Bacon avocado is easy to peel and ranges in size from 6 to 12 ounces (source).
Booth: oval in shape with shiny yellow-green skin and a large seed, the Booth avocado ranges in size from 14 to 22 ounces (source).
Fuerte: pear-shaped with smooth green skin and a medium seed, the Fuerte avocado is easy to peel and ranges in size from 5 to 14 ounces (source).
Lula: pear-shaped with shiny green skin and a very large seed, the Lula avocado ranges in size from 8 to 16 ounces (source).
Reed: round in shape with a medium seed, slightly pebbled green skin and easy to peel, the Reed avocado ranges in size from 8 to 18 ounces (source).
Zutano: pear-shaped with shiny yellow-green skin, a medium seed and a light taste, the Zutano avocado is moderately easy to peel and ranges in size from 6 to 14 ounces (source).
One cup sliced avocado provides a variety of nutrients. Some of which include:
- Potassium – approximately 20% daily value
- Dietary Fiber – approximately 40% daily value
- Vitamin B6 – approximately 20% daily value
- Magnesium – approximately 10% daily value
- Vitamin C – approximately 24% daily value
In addition, one cup sliced avocado provides approximately 32% of your daily recommended amount of fat, most of which is monounsaturated (source). According to the American Heart Association, when consumed in moderation, monounsaturated fats have the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, in addition to lowering bad cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats also tend to be high in Vitamin E, an antioxidant (source).
Craving some of this buttery, creamy, heart-healthy fruit? Try my favorite recipe for guacamole.
CAUTION: According to the ASPCA, avocado bark, fruit, leaves and seeds can be toxic to various animals such as cats and dogs (source).