Although avocados are native to central and eastern Mexico’s highlands, they are a cherished staple in many countries.
Known as “aguacate” in Mexico, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela, Colombia and Central America, the fruit’s name is “palta” in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Uruguay.
Both in Mexico and Central America, avocados have been part of the daily diet since before the Spaniards’ arrival. Today, people enjoy it with bread, in salads and as a garnish. But they also prepare dips and sauces with it, including guacamole.
With more than 2 million tons per year, Mexico is the leading avocado producer in the world, followed by the Dominican Republic, Peru, Indonesia, Colombia and Brazil, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
Mexican families include avocados in most of their traditional dishes.
“Here in the house, you cannot miss avocados or tortillas. They are that important. We feel concerned when their price rises because it would mean limiting ourselves to eating avocado,” said María de Lourdes Ortiz, a Mexican pensioner. She said for her, avocado is a noble ingredient that “goes with everything.”
“Although many do not believe it, avocado is a fruit. It is delicious. I recommend eating it for many reasons,” said Nancy García, a nutritionist who graduated from the Universidad Veracruzana.
Avocados are important sources of vitamins A, D, E and B6, as well as potassium, iron and magnesium.
“The good thing about avocados is that we can combine them with practically everything. Because the fat in avocados is monounsaturated, it will not raise our cholesterol levels,” said the nutritionist.
But buyer beware: avocados’ caloric load is so high that specialists recommend moderating their consumption. “They are rich in fat, so we cannot eat four avocados a day,” said García.
“An avocado has a lot of calories: 85% of it is fat,” she said. “A normal-size piece has about 200 calories. Eating an avocado at every meal is too much. The ideal portion is one-eighth per meal. That is the equivalent to a little avocado taco.”
Americans love avocados. Over time, this staple has become an essential ingredient in the snacks related to an iconic American tradition, the Super Bowl. Americans eat 8 million pounds of avocados on the game Sunday. They use it primarily to make guacamole.
If you are interested in joining the trend, try making guacamole with Chef Silvia Nicte-Ha’s recipe.
3 medium-sized avocados
1 finely chopped jalapeño pepper
1/4 finely chopped onion
1 bundle of finely chopped cilantro
First, smash the avocados in a container. Once you have the right texture, add the pepper, onion, cilantro, salt and olive oil to taste.
“It is important to add a touch of lime to avoid the avocado’s oxidation. It needs to be just a touch, a few drops,” Nicte-Ha said.
(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Fern Siegel.)