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13 Little-Known Facts About Avocados

Think you already know a lot about avocados? Just you wait!

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Fresh avocado on a wooden tableMAIZATULEZMA BINTI EZAHAR/Shutterstock

We’ve definitely jumped onboard the avocado bandwagon. Whether it’s mashed into guac or used liberally in one of our avocado-packed recipes, there are plenty of reasons to love this oval-shaped fruit (yes, that’s right—it’s not a vegetable!). But there’s much more to avocados that goes beyond smashing them on toast. Let’s get a handle on this fruit.

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close up of young woman with food basket and avocado in marketShutterstock / Syda Productions

Most avocados come from Mexico.

While avocados are grown in California and Florida, the majority sold in grocery stores come from south central Mexico. The main reason for the abundance of “south of the border” avocados is that Mexico is blessed with a year-round growing climate. The avocado is believed to have originated in the state of Puebla, Mexico, as far back as 10,000 B.C.

Do you know which other crops are native to the Americas?

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Closeup avocado. Avocado Sliced and diced for saladsShutterstock / GANNA MARTYSHEVA

The conquistadors were huge fans.

Spanish explorers arriving in Mexico during the 16th century survived on avocados and were the first Europeans to consume them. As a result of the Spanish Conquest, avocados spread to South America and Central America. Sadly, they had yet to learn how to make avocado toast.

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Organic Raw Green Avocados Sliced in HalfBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

“Avocado” wasn’t its original name.

Irishman Sir Hans Sloane called it an avocado in 1696 in a Jamaican-plants catalog. He also dubbed the avocado tree the “alligator pear tree.”

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Egg topped avocado toastTMB Studio

It’s relatively new to the United States.

It wasn’t until the 1950s when Americans turned to avocados. This makes it a relatively new food in our country. As with most imported trends, avocados were made popular in the coastal states—Florida and California—and Hawaii, too, before evolving into mainstream culinary culture.

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Taste of Home

It’s actually a fruit.

Did you know that an avocado is a fruit? While definitely not sweet, it falls firmly in the fruit—not the vegetable—family. That’s because the avocado tree is part of the flowering-plant family Lauraceae.

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Avocado and salad mixShutterstock / teleginatania

The U.S. harvest is best in the spring and early summer.

Much like our other favorite farmers market produce, avocados’ peak season in California is April to July, though avocados can be found in the supermarket year-round. Their growing season typically wraps by November.

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Organic avocado plantation on mountain in Thailand with golden sunbeam background. Shutterstock / Theeraphong

Some celebrities are avocado farmers.

Joining the ranks of California’s avocado farmers are actors like Tom Selleck (whose ranch was once owned by actor Dean Martin) and Oscar winner Jamie Foxx. Also on Foxx’s 40-acre ranch? A recording studio!

These other celebs have food lines, too.

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Avocado Crab BoatsTaste of Home

There are different varieties.

Avocados’ taste and texture depend on the region they’re from. Florida-grown avocados are lower in fat and firmer, while Hass avocados, from Mexico, are perfect for mashing and whipping. Any variety would work for these pretty avocado roses.

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They’ve one-upped the banana.

Hard to believe, but it’s true: Avocados have higher levels of potassium than bananas. In fact, the levels are almost double-a single avocado contains 975 milligrams of potassium, compared to 487 milligrams in a banana. So throw avocado spears into your smoothie, why don’t you? Start with this recipe for Green Breakfast Smoothie.

Find out the best things you should eat for every decade (avocados show up a lot!).

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Sources of omega 3 fatty acids: flaxseeds, avocado, walnuts and sunflower.Shutterstock / morisfoto

Avocados may help lower your cholesterol.

Trying to improve your health? Fold more avocados into your diet. A 2015 study by the American Heart Association found that eating an avocado daily can improve LDL cholesterol levels (that’s the bad cholesterol) in people who struggle with obesity or are overweight.

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Green ripe avocado from organic avocado plantation - healthy foodbarmalini/Shutterstock

The peel isn’t good for Fido.

Be sure to toss avocado remains in the garbage (or your backyard compost bin). The skin and pit can be harmful, and even toxic, to cats and dogs. However, most household pets (except birds) can nosh on the creamy green center and not get sick.

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Healthy breakfast toasts with peanut butter, banana, chocolate granola, avocado, watermelon radish, persimmon, pomegranate, chia seeds, tomato, figs, blackberryShutterstock/zarzamora

You can substitute it for butter.

In lieu of butter, many vegan bakers use avocado to add flavor to toast or moistness to cupcakes, cakes and other baked goods. Want to give it a go? Keep in mind that avocados can give a green hue to the finished dish. For more creative substitutes, check out our favorite secret ingredients for cake.

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Fresh avocados in paper bag on wooden background;Africa Studio/Shutterstock

There’s a secret trick to ripening them up quick.

Need to ripen that avocado ASAP? Place it in a brown paper bag with a banana or two. The bananas will release ethylene gas, a natural plant hormone that aids in ripening fruit. Here’s how to keep avocado from turning brown.

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Taste of Home

Now that you’re equipped with this newfound avocado appreciation, go ahead and share it with your friends and family. Taco Tuesday will never be the same!

Kristine Hansen
A former editor of a regional home and garden magazine, where she edited the entertaining section, Kristine writes for national travel, design and food outlets about culinary trends. Her book on Wisconsin cheese serves as a love letter to her adopted state of Wisconsin and she loves to travel in search of regional cultural foods.