TORONTO , Sept. 16 /CNW/ - Today, in the spirit of Mexican Independence Day and Canadian multiculturalism, 20,000 avocados from Mexico will be handed out at Union Station starting at 6 a.m. It will be a feast for the senses as a live Mariachi band plays, festive Mexican dancers perform, Chef Juan Salinas creates avocado recipes and the Mexican flag is raised, transforming a regular workday commute into a grand celebration. Miss Ava Cado , Mexico's sultry avocado ambassador, will greet commuters in her mission to share her native superfood, revered by the Aztecs as a fertility fruit, with Canadians.
Rated as the world's most nutritious fruit in the Guinness Book of World Records, avocados offer many health benefits. For starters they:
- contain almost 20 essential nutrients such as folic acid, protein, iron, vitamin E, vitamin K and a variety of B vitamins, just to name a few; - boast more than 9 grams of fibre per avocado - more than any other fruit - which helps promote regularity; - are cholesterol free; - are a good source of lutein, which helps maintain healthy eyesight; - are a source of potassium and are low in sodium, which helps regulate blood pressure.
"Although avocados contain fat, it is of the health-protective monounsaturated variety, the same kind that is found in olives and nuts that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels," said Cara Rosenbloom , a Toronto-based registered dietitian. "Avocados are the only fruit that contains 'good fat' and when added to salads, they can help the body absorb the antioxidants from the other vegetables."
Canadians are also realizing that avocados help improve the look of their skin. In fact, one in 10 Canadians (10 %) use creams or cosmetics containing avocado, which is shown to help reduce age spots, help heal sun damage and help minimize the appearance of scars, according to a recent Angus Reid survey commissioned by Avocados from Mexico*. The oil contained in avocado may also significantly increase the amount of collagen in skin, which is normally depleted with age, reducing wrinkles and improving skin tone.
A perfect food for babies and children
Avocados, which originated in Mexico between 7,000 and 5,000 B.C., remain a staple of the daily diet in Mexico with 60 per cent of all avocados grown staying in Mexico while 40 per cent are exported. In Mexico , avocados are served to babies because of their health benefits. "Avocados are great for babies and children," said Ms. Rosenbloom , "because they provide the much-needed good fat that promotes healthy growth and development. The smooth texture and limey-green colour of avocados also make them the perfect kid-friendly food."
How to select an avocado: "black is the new green"
When buying an avocado, 64 per cent of respondents said they rely on a squeeze test to determine the fruit's ripeness though this is incorrect. "A simple way of determining whether an avocado is ripe, is by remembering that black is the new green," said Chef Salinas. This means that when the avocado has achieved a dark colour on the outside, it has achieved perfect ripeness on the inside."
For those intending to use their avocados only two to three days after purchase, Chef Salinas recommends choosing one that is green with dark green patches starting to appear. To hasten the ripening process, consumers can place their avocado in a loosely closed paper bag at room temperature. Once ripe, the fruit can be preserved in the refrigerator for up to four days.
How to prepare avocados
Avocados from Mexico , the only ones available year-round, can be incorporated into all types of dishes. Canadians use them most in salads (62 %), home-made guacamole (61 %), sandwiches (39 %), and scooped out fresh on a spoon (39 %). Chef Salinas also recommends using them as a dairy substitute, as they provide a creamy texture and flavour, perfect for the 1.4 million Canadians who are lactose intolerant. They are also great in desserts and Chef Salinas recommends trying his signature recipe for chocolate-avocado cupcakes, available at www.missavacado.com.
- When it comes to avocado awareness, British Columbia residents (61 %) are the most familiar with the fruit compared to other provinces and they purchase them more frequently with 49 per cent buying them at least once a month. - More than 38 per cent of respondents said they are eating and entertaining at home more these days compared to last year with Ontarians (41 %) and Quebecers (42 %) leading the charge. - Canadians' palate for exotic food is as diverse as its multicultural population, as 84 per cent of respondents said they are willing to try new foods that are different or exotic. - If you want to get your kids to try something new, try getting their friends to persuade them as the poll finds that word-of-mouth recommendation (93 %) is the top influencer in terms of trying exotic or different foods. - Sixty four per cent (64 %) of Canadians polled are buying more produce and fresh foods compared to last year.
About Miss Ava Cado
To help increase awareness of the benefits of avocados, a campaign starring Miss Ava Cado has been created and includes today's consumer giveaway, a telenovela five-part video series and in-store demonstrations. Her adventures can be viewed at www.missavacado.com and fans are invited to connect with Ava on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.
For more information about the event, event photos and delicious avocado recipes, visit www.missavacado.com.
ABOUT AVOCADOS FROM MEXICO AND APEAM
The Avocado Producer and Exporting Packers Association of Michoacan (APEAM), was founded in 1997 to promote the export program of Michoacan. APEAM represents nearly 30 packers, and more than 5,000 producers who oversee 7,100 avocados orchards. Together, they produce 2 billion pounds of avocado every year, 836 million of which are exported to the most demanding markets in the world. APEAM is headquartered in Uruapan, Mexico and has offices in New York, Los Angeles , Chicago and McAllen, Texas.
* Methodology The online survey was conducted by Angus Reid Strategies between July 27th and July 30th, 2009. A total of 1,521 adult Canadians who are the primary grocery shoppers for their household were sampled. The margin of error for this sample size is +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
For further information: For further information: or to arrange an interview with Chef Salinas or Miss Ava Cado, please contact: Jennifer Potvin, Faye Clack Communications, Tel: (905) 206-0577, ext 223, Email: email@example.com; Anthony Tiburzi, Faye Clack Communications, Tel: (905) 206-0577, ext 234, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org