SANTA MONICA, Calif., May 5 (UPI) -- The avocado, celebrated for centuries as an indulgent food with a seductively creamy texture, is also high in nutrition, a U.S. food expert says.
Phil Lempert -- a food industry analyst, trend watcher and creator of the Web site supermarketguru.com -- says the avocado originated in parts of ancient Mexico, Central America, and South America, and was once believed to be an aphrodisiac, but today it is a staple in Mexican culture as butter is in the United States.
Avocados are rich in potassium. One avocado actually has three times as much potassium as one banana.
A ripe avocado is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and heart-healthy fats, and while considered a vegetable, it is actually a fruit, rich in monounsaturated fats that may help reduce "bad" low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the blood and raise the levels of "good" high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, Lempert says.
Avocados contain more lutein, a cancer-fighting carotenoid, than any other fruit. Men who eat foods rich in lutein are linked to low rates of prostate cancer and lutein also protects against eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
Another anti-cancer component of avocados is glutathione, a tripeptide composed of amino acids that act as an antioxidant, and those who eat foods rich in glutathione have significantly lower rates of oral and pharyngeal cancer, Lempert says.