Avocados, high in vitamins and nutritional benefits, have become a multi-purpose fruit that can be used to make guacamole, added to salads, put on sandwiches, and can even act as a replacement to butter on your toast. While optimal growing conditions for the fruit are in southern states such as California, Florida, Hawaii, and the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, it is a widely consumed commodity in Texas due to its unique flavor and popularity in Tex-Mex foods.
According to AgriLife Extension Specialists, avocados are grown on tropical evergreen trees that can grow up to 40-80 feet tall. The fruit is best grown in warm, tropical climates with mild winters. Research conducted by AgriLife Extension horticulturists in 2015 showed California in the lead of commercial avocado production with 65,000 acres, Florida in second at 6,500 acres, and Hawaii in third at 600 acres. However, there are avocados grown in the Northern parts of Texas, known as the Wintergarden region, as well as areas located around Houston. These avocados have hardier shells to withstand the Texas winters and temperature fluctuations.
There are currently more than 80 varieties of avocados grown, with the ‘Hass’ variety being the most popular. Other varieties include:
Unlike most foods, avocados are high in “healthy fats” such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. In some research findings, when eaten in a healthy diet, these types of fatty acids have been shown to lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels and raise “good” cholesterol levels (HDL). Nutritional information for ½ cup of avocado:
- 117 calories
- 11g of fat (7g of monounsaturated fatty acids)
- 6g of carbohydrates
- 5g of fiber
- 5g of protein
AgriLife Extension’s Dinner Tonight puts a twist on sandwiches, salads, and even pastas by using avocado as a main ingredient in a variety of dishes. Visit dinnertonight.tamu.edu to find ingredients and steps for avocado recipes such as California Chicken Pasta, Avocado Tuna Salad, Avocado Mandarin Salad, and Chicken Avocado Mango Tacos.
Contact: Dr. Larry Stein
Phone: (830) 278-9151