The avocado (Persea americana Miller) was first introduced into the Lam Dong province of Vietnam in 1940 by the French. The first introduction was reported to have been greatly successful since trees performed well and gave high yields. During the 1960s some avocado varieties given by the Philippines government were tested in some provinces in the Central Highlands around Blao, Hung Loc and Buon Ma Thuot. About 93 different exotic varieties were listed at that time and it was also said that avocado growers gained good income due to high demand from consumers, mostly foreigners living in the country at that time (Fao.org).
Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats and are second only to olives in their unsaturated oil content. Avocados are twenty percent fat, which is about twenty times more than other fruit. This is why, ounce for ounce, avocados have more calories than any other fruit. One would think that a food so high in fat would be bad for our health, but in the case of avocados, the high fat content is a beneficial thing! Avocados have oleic acid and linoleic acid, two oils that help to lower cholesterol levels. In fact, studies show that those who eat a diet high in avocados have significant decreases in their total cholesterol and LDL levels, with an increase in HDL levels (high-density lipoproteins, the ‘healthy’ form of cholesterol).
Cholesterol levels are also lowered by the fiber avocados contain. Between the high fiber and monounsaturated fats, avocados make a great food for heart health as well as for diabetics. It’s been found that when people with diabetes eat a lot of carbohydrates, they usually develop high amounts of triglycerides, a type of blood fat that leads to heart disease. But it has also been found that if they replace some of the carbs with fat, particularly healthy fats like those found in avocados, the unhealthy fats in the bloodstream tend to decrease. The fats in avocados are also great for our skin and hair, keeping them healthy and vibrant.
The potassium in avocados helps decrease high blood pressure as well as the risk of other cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke. Most people today get an over-abundance of sodium but are deficient in potassium. Eating avocados is a great way to bring the ratio of sodium to potassium into balance.
Avocados are also high in folate, a really important nutrient for pregnant women. When folate is deficient it can lead to birth defects in the brain and spine that can be life-threatening. Folate is essential for keeping nerves functioning as they should and it helps fight against heart disease. Avocados also provide a number of antioxidants from the carotenoid lutein.