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Hass avocado

Avocados are growing in popularity in Israel, not only because of their nutritional value but also because they are showing promise in the agricultural industry.

Although many mistaken avocado for a vegetable, it is actually a fruit, and a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that has been shown to help raise levels of HDL (“good”cholesterol) while lowering levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol), according to a small study in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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Avocado cultivation is considered to be the most promising segment for development in the Israeli horticultural sector, according to a report posted this week by EuroFruit, the international magazine for fresh produce buyers in Europe.

According to the report, avocado production for 2017 is projected to be 122,000 tonnes, the highest since 1986, with the Hass variety leading the way.

One-third of the planted area is comprised of Hass avocados, with 27 percent comprised of Ettinger and Pinkerton comprising 15 percent. The three main planting areas are in the Galilee (Western, Upper and Lower), the Coastal Plain and the Jordan Valley.

Three new varieties are slowly being added as well: the Lavi, which is supposed to be similar to Hass; and the Galil and Arad, both of which are intended for local consumption. All three are expected to take the next 15 years in development.

Around 90 percent of avocado exports are handled by two main companies, according to EuroFruit: Mehadrin, and Galilee Exports, with 80 percent of the product over the past three seasons going to the European Union and 15 percent headed to Russia. The other 10 percent of exports are handled by 10 other Israeli companies.

Both Mehadrin and Galilee Exports reportedly plan to expand their operations to China and Japan.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.