Herbs & Plants
Of The Southwest
Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? Although sometimes known as the “Alligator Pear”, the avocado has nothing to do with either alligators or pears! It is botanically considered a fruit, even though it is green in color, and high in protein and fat. In the US, avocados are used mainly in salads, or for guacamole, to complement Mexican food, but in Mexico and Central America, it is also an important meat substitute. The beautiful trees are highly regarded as ornamentals in California and South Florida.
The avocado was grown by Indian people in Mexico, Central America, and as far south as Peru, before Columbus. Its name is derived from“ahuacatl”, a Nahuatl word from the language of the Aztec that means “testicle”.
The Conquistadores found avocado trees being grown by the Aztec in Mexico City, and their historian Oviedo recorded, “ In the center of the fruit is a seed like a peeled chestnut. And between this and the rind is the part which is eaten, which is abundant, and is a paste similar to butter and of very good taste.”
For health considerations, the avocado is high in protein, and high in monosaturated fat (oleic acid)- an important antioxidant that combats free radicals which may cause cancer or diseases of the auto-immune system.