Avocados—now much-loved across the Western world for their creamy texture and nutritional value—have a long and rich history. In fact, historians believe the fruit was consumed for the first time around 10,000 years ago in central Mexico. Now, avocados are grown all over the world, including in the US, Peru, Colombia, and Indonesia. But one of the biggest producers is still Mexico. In fact, to this day, it supplies around 45 percent of the market. But what actually is avocado? And why is it so popular? Here, we break down some of the biggest benefits of the large, pear-like fruit. And we’ve also gathered some tasty vegan avocado recipes too.

What is avocado?

Avocados, which are also sometimes referred to as alligator pears (likely inspired by the rough skin on the outside), are edible fruits that grow on evergreen plants from the Lauraceae family. These plants, which need a lot of warmth and sunshine to grow, are native to Mexico, as well as other Andean states, like Peru and Venezuela.

The avocado itself has a dark green textured skin (this part is edible, but due to the rough texture, not usually eaten raw), with a lighter green inside. When ripe, the inside of the fruit usually has a soft, but not mushy, texture. Avocados also contain large stones, which, if you’re feeling green-fingered, you can pot into moist compost and attempt to grow your own avocado plant from home!

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Avocado nutrition

In 2021, the avocado market reached nearly $14 billion. It’s no surprise, because, not only is the fruit tasty and creamy, but it is also incredibly good for you. In the past, it has even been dubbed a “superfood,” and this is because it is packed with nutrients and antioxidants, like vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, magnesium, and potassium. It is also a good source of fiber and healthy fats.

Avocado benefits for skin

One key benefit of eating avocados regularly is the potentially rejuvenating impact they can have on your skin. This is because it contains a multitude of skin-loving vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. Alpha-linolenic acid, for example, is an essential omega-3 fatty acid and antioxidant, which is associated with reducing skin damage from environmental factors, like the sun. Avocado also contains a high percentage of monounsaturated fats, which, research suggests, can help to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, as well as vitamin C, which can help to stimulate collagen (the protein that helps with skin strength and elasticity). The fruit also contains niacin, vitamin E, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds, all of which are associated with improving skin health.

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Avocado benefits for cholesterol

According to the CDC, a significant number of Americans (around two in five) have high cholesterol levels. A certain amount of this waxy substance, which is technically a lipid, is good for us because it helps to make things like cell walls and vitamins. But too much cholesterol—high levels of which are found in foods like red meat, dairy, eggs, and fried foods—can be dangerous. It can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the US.

But some foods, like avocados, which are loaded with nutrients and polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats, can help to lower cholesterol levels and in turn, benefit heart health. In fact, one study—which was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2022 and examined more than 1,000 participants—suggested that eating just one avocado per day could help to decrease unhealthy levels of cholesterol.

Other avocado benefits

Skin and cholesterol aside, avocados also have a host of other benefits. They can improve digestion, for example, because they’re a good source of fiber. Fiber helps to keep bowel movements regular and smooth and reduces the risk of constipation. Their magnesium content also means regular consumption may help with relaxation and sleep efficiency, and their potassium levels will also help with nerve, muscle, and heart function. They also contain biotin, which is good for healthy hair, and carotenoids, which are beneficial for the immune system.

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Vegan avocado recipes

When it comes to your health, there are so many reasons to eat avocados. But the other good news is, you don’t have to force them down! Avocados are as delicious as they are nutritious, and they’re versatile, too. Here are just a few of the recipes you can make with avocados.

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1 Vegan Avocado Coconut Curry Noodles

Avocado curry sounds unusual, but this recipe proves that the fruit can help to make a flavorful, creamy curry dish, particularly when combined with coconut milk, jalapeños, and spices, like cumin and turmeric. Combine with noodles for a healthy, tasty midweek treat.
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VegNews.GuacHummusSam Turnbull

2 Garlicky Chickpea Avocado Hummus Dip 

Hummus is already creamy and moreish, but when you combine it with avocado, it will really take your dip game to the next level. Garnish with cilantro and red pepper flakes, and serve with tortilla chips, chopped vegetables, or pita for a delicious snack. It’s perfect for parties, movie nights, or when you just need a bit of a daytime pick-me-up.
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3 Avocado Indian Chutney

Papadums and mango chutney are the dream combination, particularly if you’ve cooked up a tasty curry to go with it. But if you fancy trying something a little bit different, consider replacing mango with avocados for a unique condiment that it still satisfyingly fruity and fragrant.
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VegNews.AvocadoMousseKatie Takayasu

4 Vegan Chocolate Avocado Mousse

There is no rule that says avocado can only be used in mains or sides, which is a relief because avocado is an excellent dessert ingredient. The fruit works particularly well in mousse, and that’s because of its silky smooth, creamy texture. Combine with maple syrup, vanilla, and dark chocolate for an ultra-indulgent dessert.
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5 Avocado and Hummus Toast 

When you say avocado, most people think of toast, and for good reason. The crunchiness of the toast complements the texture of the avocado perfectly. But again, you can liven up this recipe and add extra creaminess by mixing in some hummus, too. For an extra kick, sprinkle some fresh chili flakes on top.
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6 Avocado & Quinoa Salad

As we’ve established, avocado is a super nutritious food to eat on a regular basis. And so are quinoa, edamame, and cranberries. So why not mix them all together and make a tasty, zesty salad? It’s ideal for a quick and easy lunch when you’re on the go.
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VegNews.VeganGuacSarah Bond

7 Guacamole with a Twist 

Guacamole, the internationally-popular avocado-based dip from Mexico, is arguably delicious as it is. So that’s why this recipe doesn’t muck about with the flavor, instead, it adds a hidden ingredient for an even bigger boost of nutrition: spinach. Seriously, you’ll get all the benefits, but it won’t affect the flavor one bit. It’s a win-win.
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