Health & Wellness

Boomer Edition | 10th Annual | 2014

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Page 27 of 147

Nutritional Powerhouse Avocado packed with antioxidants, fiber, good fat Avocado is one of nature's wondrous foods. Native to Mexico, it originated there as a wild variety sometime between 7,000 and 5,000 B.C. Today, avocado's rich and creamy flesh is consumed throughout the world and is considered a nutritional powerhouse by many health professionals. "Although avocados are high in calories and fat, they are satiating," says Deborrah Scardaville, lead registered dietitian and nutritionist with The Medical Center of Aurora. "When consumed regularly, they can actually assist in weight-loss goals." Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat – the "good fat" that can help reduce total cholesterol. They are also a good source of fiber, antioxidants and many nutrients to help prevent cancer and other diseases. The avocado even has more potassium than a banana, says Scardaville. The fruit is also high in vitamin E, which is essential for radiant skin, shining hair and reducing wrinkles. Some say avocado helps stop bad breath. History The avocado was cultivated as early as 500 B.C. in southcentral Mexico, where it was part of the Aztec diet. The pear-shaped fruit was originally named āhuacatl, the Nahuatl word for testicle. When Spanish conquistadors arrived they 26 had difficulty pronouncing it and subsequently referred to the fruit as aguacate, which became "avocado" in English. There are four main varieties of avocados. The Hass, with its golden-yellow flesh and purplish-black knobby exterior, is considered the one with superior flavor by American consumers. Milder varieties include the Ettinger, Fuerte and Nabal. Most of the world's avocados are produced in Mexico, the United States, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, South Africa, Indonesia, Israel and Spain. American avocados are predominantly grown in California's San Diego County – the U.S. avocado capital, according to the California Avocado Commission. Use The avocado is primarily used in its raw form. In the U.S., it is most commonly known for its use in Mexican cuisine – mashed into guacamole, blended with tomatillos for salsa verde, and used as a topping for tacos, soups, beans and the like. Many other cultures, however, take a sweeter approach – often in a beverage. The Vietnamese make sinh to bo, an avocado milkshake with sweetened condensed milk. You can find it with or without boba (tapioca pearls) at most Vietnamese restaurants. Brazilians call theirs vitamina de abacate and

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