Just before the season ends for the Palm Springs Farmers Market, I had the opportunity to sample amazing Avocado Oil from a local Southern California producer. It’s called Bella Vado, and you can find it at www.bellavado.com. And of course, I had to share information about Avocados and Avocado oil with you!
You probably know that the Avocado is a fruit. Its other name is Alligator Pear! In fact it is a single seeded berry. That’s right, a berry! The word avocado is a derivation of the Aztec word for avocado, ahuacatl, which means “testicle tree” The Spanish conquerors couldn’t pronounce ahuacatl so they called it “aquacate.” Unlike most fruits, a ripe avocado consists primarily of a monounsaturated fat, oleic acid, the same fat that is in olive oil. For years, people who were trying to maintain their weight avoided avocados; but recent evidence suggests that avocados are one of the greatest health foods there are, consumption of which may actually help you lose weight!
But back to oleic acid. Ancel Keys, the Minnesota Nutritionist who invented the K-Ration, so beloved or hated by GI’s of WWII, was sent by President Eisenhower to study why the Mediterranean Diet was so much more healthful than the so called “Western Diet”. Dr. Keys’ report, the famous “Seven Countries Study”, concluded that the major factor was the very liberal use of Olive Oil in cooking, salad dressings, and in general pouring over anything that is sitting on your plate. Indeed, the longest living people lived on Crete where 40% of their calories were from fat, primarily olive oil and purslane. (As an aside, Dr. Keys retired to Italy, where he died one month shy of his 101st birthday in 2004) Sadly, Dr. Keys report was altered to suggest that if monounsaturated fat was good for you; polyunsaturated fats must be better (since in the 50’s we didn’t have a lot of olive oil use or production, but we did have a lot of corn and soybean oil). You know the rest of that story if you’ve read my book.
So what do avocados and their oleic acid do for you?
1) Oleic acid protects against breast cancer.
2) Oleic acid protects against prostate cancer: in fact, avocados have been shown to kill prostate cancer cells.
3) Avocados destroy precancerous cells in the mouth.
4) Avocados have more lutein than any other fruit, including the highly touted tomato. Lutein has been shown to protect against macular degeneration.
5) Avocados lower LDL cholesterol. In one study, volunteers who ate avocados daily for one week lowered LDL by 17%. One reason is the high beta-sitosterol content of avocados. Those of you who I have on Cholest-off are taking plant sterols.
6) Nutrient absorption. Avocados promote up to five times the absorption of carotenoids and lutein than if they are not included in a meal or salad.
7) Avocados are the best source of Vitamin E of any fruit!
8) Avocados have the most protein content of any fruit.
9) Avocados have more potassium than bananas, and you know how I feel about bananas!
10) Easily absorbed oil when used on the skin, which blocks harmful UVA rays.
11) Avocado Oil is green tinted because it contains chlorophyll, the plant equivalent of hemoglobin.
This avocado oil adds a wonderful nutty flavor to salads. Try it drizzled over grilled asparagus this summer. Unlike olive oil, which has a low smoke point, avocado oil can be used for frying or grilling. Because its summer, try this great spiced grilled shrimp recipe and serve them over a Caesar salad that you made with my Seed-Sar Salad dressing. Just substitute Avocado Oil for ½ of the olive oil in the dressing and you will have a taste treat that will treat you right!