Friday 20 October 2017

Holy guacamole! Avocados send people to hospital

According to plastic surgeons tasked with repairing the damage from so-called ‘avocado hand’, it’s a serious and potentially life-changing concern. Stock picture
According to plastic surgeons tasked with repairing the damage from so-called ‘avocado hand’, it’s a serious and potentially life-changing concern. Stock picture
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

The much-maligned avocado is not only hurting millennials' in the wallet - it's now sending people to hospital.

The trendy Mexican fruit served on toast at 'hipster' cafes around the world was controversially cited by Australian property mogul Tim Gurner as a reason why millennials can't get on the property ladder.

But brunch politics aside, the resurgence of the 10,000-year-old fruit has led to a spate of serious hand injuries around the globe.

According to plastic surgeons tasked with repairing the damage from so-called 'avocado hand', it's a serious and potentially life-changing concern.

Last week, Simon Eccles, secretary of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons in the UK, called for warning labels to accompany the fruit after treating an average of four people a week who have suffered serious lacerations to the hand by slicing them.

Colin Riordan, a consultant hand and plastic surgeon at Dublin's Blackrock Clinic, said while he was not seeing the same number of patients turning up with 'avocado hand' as in the UK, he had treated a few people with serious cuts after they tried to slice through the slippery fruit and the knife struck the hard round pit in the middle.

"The knife typically slips and penetrates the left hand."

While he isn't inundated with such cases, they can be very serious, he said.

"You can get a nasty tendon or nerve injury that can have long-lasting implications," he told the Irish Independent.

"It can require a lengthy period of rehabilitation and loss of function."

The injury can also lead to infection and possible amputation - as well as other complications like Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, formerly Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, which can result in a permanently withered hand if not treated urgently.

To avoid injury, US TV host Martha Stewart recommends using a small knife instead of a chef's knife and holding the fruit with a damp cloth to prevent slips.

7 things you may not know...

* While avocados may be the fruit de jour of the millennial set, the wild version has been on the menu in their native Mexico for the past 10,000 years and cultivated in groves by ancient Mayans and Aztecs in central Mexico for the past 5,000 years.

* Their name is believed to be derived from the Aztec word ahuacatl, which means ‘testicle’ and they were an Aztec symbol of love and fertility.

* The Aztec avocado dip guacamole, which is now a staple of the North American diet, is a popular snack served during American Super Bowl Sunday in which an average of 53.5 million pounds – or enough to cover an American football field 20 feet deep – is commonly served with chilli con carne, nachos and beer.

* Avocados are not just consumed as a filling for sandwiches or salads, but are a popular ingredient in ice cream in Brazil.

* They are considered super foods but due to their high levels of antioxidants, amino acids and essential oils, they are also used to treat sunburn and dry skin and hair.

* They will only ripen once off the tree. But if placed in a paper bag with a banana, the ethylene gas released from the banana will speed up the ripening process.

* They are high in calories but also healthy monounsaturated fat.

Irish Independent

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