Avocado is a source of medicinal properties thanks to the nutrients contained in the fruit, thus being considered a prodigious fruit because it helps to combat certain diseases using all parts of the avocado for these purposes: the oil of the seed to prevent hair loss, gout or rheumatism; its leaves by way of infusion against fever, cramps or migraines; and the shell to relieve headaches. It has a high content of potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, folic acid and others. It is often recommended for people with heart problems.
The avocado (persea americana) is a tree belonging to the family of Lauraceae and originates in Mesoamerica. It has three varieties: Mexican, Guatemalan and West Indian. Mexico is considered to be the main producer of this fruit, as well as exporter, and they have more than 20 different species related to the avocado, which may be due to different environmental conditions and to the crossing of different types.
This fruit dates back more than 10,000 years BC, and it was located in a cave in Coxcatlán (Puebla), although the origin itself took place in Mesoamerica (between Mexico and Guatemala) and was an important merchandise for trade that came to acquire a religious meaning.
Three varieties of avocado are recognised in the Florentine Codex: Mexican, Guatemalan and West Indian. The botanical classification of these three varieties has been varied, and some indicate the Mexican race as a separate species.
Likewise, in the Codex Mendoza there are hieroglyphs from the Ahucatlan population (between the centre and east of Mexico) identifying it as the “place where avocados are abundant”. The hieroglyphs consist of a tree with teeth on the stem (ahuacacahuitl) and a “calli” which symbolises village. It is moreover the way that the Aztecs identify the merchandise coming from the Ahucatlan village.
However, if we go much further back to the time of the dinosaurs, this fruit was part of the diet of these giants, but when they began to die off the avocado was destined to follow the same path had it not been for the Aztecs. They began to cultivate them and considered the tree to be sacred. The Aztecs and the Mayans thought that avocado was an aphrodisiac and strongly linked to the gods of fertility, due to which their consumption in the pre-Hispanic religious festivals was prohibited, since it was important to maintain chastity. In fact, the name of the avocado comes from the Aztec term ahuacatl, which means “testicle”. In addition, the avocado was also used as a tribute in the Aztec Empire.
The work of the Aztecs, according to archaeological studies, followed the inhabitants of Tehuacán, who cultivated them between 2,300 and 1,500 B.C.
The Spaniards, for the first time, named this fruit around 1519 and, after the conquest, took the avocado back to Spain around the year 1600 to then distribute the fruit to other European countries. They also introduced the fruit to other American countries.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, people mainly consumed, avocados from the plants of the Mexican and West Indian varieties, subsequently and thanks to various studies, other techniques were adopted allowing for production to be increased. These techniques include grafting, as well as the discovery of the so called “Fuerte” avocados. This was what resulted in the first avocado orchards.
During the era from the 50’s to the 70’s, people started to cultivate different varieties of avocados, such as the Hass, Fuerte, Bacon, Rincon, Zutano and creole varieties, and it is in 1963 when they begin to make Hass nurseries for sale to the public in general. Afterwards, this variety is replaced by the Fuerte avocado, as well as other varieties.
In the culinary field, for Mexicans, the avocado is the main fruit in most of the dishes, such as the popular guacamole which is made with avocado, tomato and chile. There is a Mexican village, called Tulyehualco, which is dedicated to making ice cream, including avocado ice cream. Also, Mexicans make good use of the avocado’s own leaves as a seasoning for beans or even to wrap meat for roasting.