• I went snorkeling and noticed how gently the fish welcomed us into their world, as compared to the violence with which we welcomed them into ours. I became a vegetarian. -- Syndee Brinkman

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The avocado is nowadays a very popular fruit. Previously, avocados had a long-standing stigma as a sexual stimulant. This goes back to the Aztecs who believed that avocados increased a person’s fertility. Growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to debunk the avocado's reputation as they were not purchased or consumed by any person wishing to preserve a chaste image.

The avocado is very popular in vegetarian cuisine, partly because it makes an excellent substitute for meat and because of its high fat content. It is used world wide in many dishes. It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole. It is used as a filling for several kinds of sushi. In Brazil and Vietnam, avocados are considered sweet fruits, so are frequently used for milk-shakes and occasionally added to ice cream and other desserts. In Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, a dessert drink is made with sugar, milk, and pureed avocado. In Central America, avocados are served mixed with white rice.

Almost all the fat in avocados is the heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats, which are an important part of the diet. Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that helps to lower cholesterol. A fatty triol (fatty alcohol) avocadene has been tested for anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Avocados contain no cholesterol.

Avocados are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Adequate intake of potassium can help to guard against circulatory diseases, like high blood pressure, heart disease or stroke.

The avocado is rich in the important antioxidant glutathione, which zaps 'free radicals' in the body. Free radicals promote ageing and chronic diseases like cancer. Avocados contain vitamin E which is also an antioxidant.

Avocados are nutrient-dense in regard to dietary fibre, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium and folate. Folate is especially important for pregnant women and children. Plant-based foods, including avocados, also contain phytochemicals that have health enhancing and protecting properties, particularly against cancer and heart disease.

To test for ripeness, cradle the avocado in the palm of your hand. If it yields to the slightest and gentlest pressure, it is ready to serve. Avoid those with dark blemishes on the skin. Many avocados are cut and served before they have reached full maturity and flavour. Once the fruit is cut, the ripening process is terminated, so make sure that it does have the slight yield before you cut it. Avocados can be frozen for later use, they are best frozen as puree.

Benefits of Avocado:

1. Avocados have properties which help with a number of ailments - diarrhea, dysentery, abdominal pains and high blood pressure
2. It is a great antioxidant
3. Avos are a great source of dietary fibre, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium and folate
4. Avocado is also thought to promote physical beauty and is used in cosmetics to this day
5. The flesh of a ripe avocado soothes sunburnt skin and can be used for skin disorders
6. Eat an avocado everyday if you’re recuperating from sickness and are trying to regain your strength
7. Avocados have 60 percent more potassium than bananas
8. Avocados may also even help protect against certain kinds of cancer
9. They are also free of sodium and cholesterol
10. Avocados are very versatile and can be used in many different dishes

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