When it comes to fruits that are beneficial to mankind, avocados have suddenly jumped to number one. There is a growing market for the fruit in Kathmandu valley today.
It hasn’t been long since the Nepali people in general have discovered the health benefits of consuming avocados is some form or the other. Today you find people standing near an avocado tree on a street and talking animatedly about the fruit’s merits. It’s the media that has been advocating this fact for some years now and people are finally reacting to what has been ingrained in their brains. You do find avocado trees around Kathmandu, some planted before our time while some are young trees that have just begun bearing fruit.
This however is a worldwide phenomenon and people are producing and consuming a lot more avocado than they used to a decade ago. For some countries it is a huge boost to their economy, exporting the fruit to countries like the United States and Europe. Some Nepali farmers are also opting to grow avocados in preference to other fruits. So this new benefactor to mankind has found a place in the hearts of the Nepali people and the fruit can be found in shopping malls and farmers’ markets and you even find vegetable vendors selling them. Its popularity has led to growing markets all over the world.
Avocados (Persea americana) have plenty of health benefits, from weight loss to prevention of heart diseases. It is full of healthy fats, fibers and various other nutrients like Vitamin B, C, E and K. They can lower blood pressure and cholesterol level, help digestion, prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract. It also helps to strengthen the bones because it contains vitamin K which is essential for bone strength. It has been found to be beneficial for the heart and eyesight. Avocado is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) according to Medical News Today. It also states that the fruit is a naturally nutrient-dense food containing nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.
40 g of avocado is said to contain:
•Almost 6 grams of fat
•3.4 grams of carbohydrate
•less than a gram of sugar
•almost 3 grams of fiber
The avocado is also known as the ‘Butter fruit’, and ‘Alligator pear’, a name it gets from being pear-shaped and its green bumpy skin like an alligator. Some Nepalis call it ‘Ghyu fal’ a direct translation of ‘Butter fruit’. The Yellow-green flesh is eaten, while the seed and the skin are disposed. There are over 200 varieties of avocados, with the most popular being Hass Avocado which earned its name from the buttery texture and smaller seeds. Avocado is a fruit that mainly grows in tropical, mild and wet climates. Originally from South of Mexico, the Mexicans now produce 45% of the world supply of this fruit. With its tree growing up to 66m, one tree can provide almost 1000 kg of avocados. They come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Round or pear-shaped and even green and black in color. An avocado is a single bearing fruit, which grows to a length of 7-20 cm.
There are no avocado farms in Kathmandu, so most of what we get in the market comes from districts outside the valley. Dhankuta unofficially known as the “Avocado Capital” has been producing 80 tons of Avocado annually as of 2018. Formerly known for orange farming, it is now famous for producing avocados, which has suddenly become the most popular fruit. Dhankuta has a history with this fruit going back 30 years as it is believed that avocado farming started from Pakhribas Agriculture Research Centre, when their research officials and tourists from UK brought some avocados on their trip to Nepal. Dhankuta has been encouraging its farmers to plant avocados to boost their production further.
Avocados can be eaten in different ways besides simply as a fruit. Guacamole which is mashed avocado sprinkled with chili flakes, pepper and salt is popular. You can also make a salad, adding some spinach and tomatoes. Another alternative is to fry them but that is considered unhealthy by those in the medical profession. However, coating it with breadcrumbs and frying it is one way to go. Avocado smoothies can be good to go for a hot and humid summer; delicious, simple and most importantly healthy. Hummus is a popular dish after Guacamole, and is included in the menu of some restaurants. Similar to Guacamole, Hummus contains chickpeas, a little garlic and avocado, lime juice, olive oil, cumin and salt all blended together, letting it rest for a while and blending again. After a few blends it is ready to serve. Sprinkle some chili flakes and it will enhance the taste. People also make avocado sandwiches.
With prices ranging from Rs.250-450 a kg, the avocado is distributed to most of the supermarkets and some vegetable shops. The harvesting season is from September to February, but it also depends on what type of avocado you want. Though some Nepalis may not like the taste at first, the fruit is very rich in vitamins, and after a few tries they’ll get familiar with the taste and there’s no going back.
Some of the stores that sell avocados are: Bhatbhateni Super Store, Salesberry, Big Mart besides others and they are also available in some vegetable shops. The Saturday Farmer’s Markets like the ones at Le Sherpa and Yellow House sell organic avocados which are very popular. With an abundance of avocado in Sallaghari, Bansbari, there are a few stores there that sell avocado on a regular basis.