AVOCADOS MAY BE AN APHRODISIAC AFTER ALL, SUGGEST FOOD, NUTRITION AND 'SENSORY' SPECIALISTS
Seven of 10 University Researchers See Link Between Fruit and Sexual Powers SANTA ANA, Calif., Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- A nationwide survey of university researchers suggests that the ancient Aztec supposition linking the avocado with aphrodisiacal qualities may be more than just myth. In a pre-Valentine's Day poll conducted by the Santa Ana-based California Avocado Commission, seven out of 10 university doctors, food and nutrition experts and sensory specialists contacted believe that there is some validity to the centuries-old belief that avocados may improve the love life. "The question of whether the avocado is an aphrodisiac remains one of the California avocado industry's biggest unsolved mysteries," explained Commission President Mark Affleck. "So strong has this perception been through the years, that avocado growers attempted to publicly denounce the fruit's amorous powers in the 1920s -- but to no avail." First exalted by the Aztecs for having "mysterious romantic powers" as early as 290 B.C., the avocado has been believed to be an aphrodisiac ever since. Supporters often cite the fruit's name, derived from ahuacacuahatl, an Aztec word meaning "tree testicle." According to Barry Swanson, Washington State University professor of science and human nutrition, the source for the avocado's alleged passion-inducing properties comes from minute traces of volatile oils, highly aromatic substances found in perfumes and massage oils. "It is a known fact that sweet-smelling volatile oils stimulate the senses and respiration, and can induce a feeling of overall well being." Michael O'Mahony, Ph.D., sensory specialist and professor of food science and technology at the University of California, Davis, thinks additional research conducted at the university or government level would prove once and for all that avocados do in fact heighten a person's romantic powers. "Since the university community isn't yet 100 percent sure, more research is needed." Robert Pearl, also a professor in UC Davis' department of food science and technology, confers with O'Mahony, and points to the Japanese practice of taking avocado oil capsules to improve health and increase sexual prowess. Even Barbara Klein, Ph.D., professor of food and nutrition at the University of Illinois, can't entirely dismiss claims that avocados may help keep the home fires burning. "While calling the avocado an outright aphrodisiac is far fetched, the fruit does contain high levels of Vitamin E, which has been shown to help people maintain the youthful vigor and energy level associated with keeping love alive," she said. "After all, many doctors and nutritionists refer to it as the sex vitamin.'" Ripe with nutrition, California avocados are flavorful, versatile and easy to prepare. Consumers can select ripe, ready-to-eat fruit to enjoy immediately, or stock up on unripened fruit to serve in a few days' time. Ripe California avocados will yield to gentle palm pressure, and can be used at once or stored in the refrigerator for a few days. Unripened fruit will be hard to the touch. To ripen a California avocado, simply place the fruit in an ordinary paper bag and store at room temperature until ready to use (usually two to five days). Including an apple in the bag will accelerate the process even more. A non-profit agency, the California Avocado Commission was founded in 1961 to conduct market-development activities on behalf of the state's 6,000 avocado growers. -0- 2/3/93 /CONTACT: Bob Ochsner or Lynne Gray of the California Avocado Media Bureau, 213-937-7460/
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