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Avocado Nation: The Green Fruit Phenomenon

The avocado craze may seem relatively new, but avocados were popular long before their rise to social media stardom. Public perception of this delicious green fruit has gone through different phases throughout history, but its popularity has stood the test of time.

The Rise of Popularity

The ancient people of Mexico and Central America ate avocados thousands of years ago, and shortly after the Europeans arrived in the Americas, they took to the fruit, too. Avocados were introduced as a crop in the United States in the 1800s, but they weren’t widely cultivated until the following century. In the 1920s and 30s, they were acclaimed as “the aristocrat of salad fruits” and served at elegant dinner parties in recipes such as avocado with grapefruit salad and French dressing, or lobster-stuffed avocados. They were mostly consumed in California, Florida and Hawaii, as that was where they were most widely available.

By the 1950s, avocados had entered the mainstream and frequently appeared on restaurant menus and were served at home in salads and guacamole. In the 1960s and 1970s, the color “avocado green” was all the rage, and kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures paid tribute to the buttery fruit.

Fall from Favor

Avocados fell out of favor in the 1980s when low-fat diets became the trend. At the time, nutritionists extolled the advantages of reducing fat consumption across the board without distinguishing among the different kinds of dietary fats and their varied health impacts. Surprisingly for a fruit, avocados have good fats, but they pack a nutritional punch with nearly 20 vitamins and minerals per 50g serving, or one-third of a medium avocado. Over 75 percent of the fat in avocados is considered “good” fat, plus they contain 10 percent of the daily recommended value of Vitamin K, folate, and copper, 11 percent of daily recommended fiber, and 14 percent of pantothenic acid.

A Staple Fruit

When it became clear that some types of fat are an important part of a healthy diet, avocados regained their lost popularity and then some. In the 1990s, markets were opened, allowing Avocados From Mexico to reach consumers all over the United States. No longer restricted to a particular geographical region or season, they are now a staple fruit, available year-round.

When shopping for avocados, look for ones that are dark green to black in color and yield to gentle pressure. Once cut, an avocado will discolor over time, so if you have part of an avocado left over, squeeze some lemon or lime juice over it and press cling wrap firmly against the flesh. That will keep it from turning brown.

As for what the future holds, the sky’s the limit! The avocado craze shows no signs of abating: Avocados are winning over new fans every day as more and more people become aware of the nutritional benefits of this delicious fruit and its extreme versatility.

By Barbara Ruhs, MD, RDN February 08, 2018

An avid avocado-eater and guacamole-lover, Barb is the Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for Avocados From Mexico and former sports nutritionist for Harvard University. Her philosophy on food is simple: Enjoy what you eat, prepare food with love, and add avocados to everything! 

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