Glossary of Foods: Avocado

Avocados are probably a food that end up on your grocery list every week. They are delicious, nutritious, and so versatile. They're tasty in smoothies, sandwiches, salads, and, of course, guacamole. Avocados are one of nature's perfect foods, and the story of how they get to your plate every week is worth checking out!

Avocados are also known as alligator pears, which, when you look at the rough, dark green skin, actually makes sense. Avocados are botanically considered to be a large berry with a single seed inside the flesh. The fruits can be egg-shaped, pear-shaped, or spherical, and once picked from the tree, will ripen and become slightly soft to the touch.

avocados on tree

Avocado trees can grow to 40 or more feet high, depending on the species. Young avocado trees do not produce fruit until about 5 years of age. Mature avocado trees can produce about 200 to 300 fruit per year and will alternate years of producing lots of fruit and producing few fruit. These fruit are grown commercially in Mediterranean climates where summers are warm and dry and winters are mild and wet, but avocados originated thousands of years ago in Mexico and Central America. Growers have now cultivated many varieties of avocado grown around the world. California and Florida are also large producers of avocado. Each avocado variety looks and tastes different and also has a different growing season.

You will commonly find Hass avocados in the grocery store year round. They are high in calories due to the large amount of healthy monounsaturated fats. Avocados are also high in fiber, potassium, and folate. While it may be tempting to put a large portion of avocado in your smoothie or on your Mexican food, it's necessary to remember that you can have too much of a good thing. The calories in an avocado add up fast. One avocado contains about 250 calories and 23 grams of fat.

The versatility of avocados makes them a delicious addition to any meal of the day. Looking for a few new recipes to try? Check out this list of 50 amazing avocado recipes. Avocados aren't just good to eat; they're good for your skin too! Try this easy DIY avocado face mask for healthy, beautiful skin.

Here's something fun to do with the kids! They may not eat or enjoy avocados yet (few kids enjoy green foods!), but this fun science experiment may encourage their curiosity in avocados just a bit more. They will definitely enjoy watching the pit of the avocado sprout and grow in a glass of water.