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Nutritional value of Avocados and Toxicity of it to animals

Image of Avocado

The avocado (Persea americana) is a tree native to the Caribbean, Mexico,  South America and Central America, classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae  along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel. The name "avocado" also refers to the fruit  (technically a large berry that contains a large seed of the tree, which may be egg-shaped or spherical.

Nutritional value of Avocados

  • Avocados are high in valuable fats and appear to have a beneficial effect on blood serum levels. For a typical avocado:
  • About 75% of an avocado's calories come from fat, most of which is monounsaturated fat.
  • Avocados also have 60% more potassium than bananas. They are rich in B vitamins, as well as vitamin E and vitamin K.
  • Avocados have a high fiber content among fruits - including 75% insoluble and 25% soluble fiber.
  • A fatty triol (fatty alcohol) with one double bond, avocadene (16-heptadecene-1,2,4-triol), is found in avocado.

High avocado intake has been shown to have a beneficial effect on blood serum cholesterol levels. Specifically, after a seven-day diet rich in avocados, hypercholesterolemia patients showed a 17% decrease in total serum cholesterol levels. These subjects also showed a 22% decrease in both LDL (harmful cholesterol) and triglyceride levels and 11% increase in HDL (helpful cholesterol) levels. Additionally a Japanese team synthesised the four chiral components and identified (2R, 4R)-16-heptadecene-1, 2, 4-triol as the natural antibacterial component.

Toxicity to animals

There is documented evidence that animals such as cats, dogs, cattle, goats, rabbits, rats, birds, fish, and horses can be severely harmed or even killed when they consume the avocado leaves, bark, skin, or pit. The avocado fruit is poisonous to some birds, and the ASPCA and many other sites list it as toxic to many animals including cats, dogs, and horses. Avocado is an ingredient in AvoDerm dog food and cat food. However, the ASPCA has declined to say whether this food is safe or not without knowing the details of how the avocado is processed.

Avocado leaves contain a toxic fatty acid derivative known as persin, which in sufficient quantity can cause equine colic and, without veterinary treatment, death. The symptoms include gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory distress, congestion, fluid accumulation around the tissues of the heart, and even death. Birds also seem to be particularly sensitive to this toxic compound. Feeding avocados or guacamole to any non-human animal should be avoided completely. Negative effects in humans seem to be primarily in allergic individuals.