Avocados are no longer just used in guacamole. Today, they’re a household staple across the United States and in other parts of the world.
Avocados are a healthy fruit, but they’re not the lowest in calories and fat.
- Nutrition facts
- Are they healthy?
- Other health benefits
- Vitamins and minerals
- Eating seeds
- Diet strategies
Nutrition facts for avocados
Avocados are the pear-shaped fruit of avocado trees. They have leathery green skin. They contain a single large seed called a stone. The Hass avocado is the most cultivated in the world. It’s the most common variety in the United States.
As they ripen, avocados turn dark green to black. Avocados vary in size. Most of the avocados in grocery stores are medium-sized.
The suggested serving size is around one-fifth of a medium-sized avocado. Here’s a look at the number of calories and fat in avocados.
- 1 serving (1/5 of an avocado) contains 50 calories and 4.5 grams of fat
- 1/2 of an avocado (medium) contains 130 calories and 12 grams of fat
- 1 avocado (medium, whole) contains 250 calories and 23 grams of fat
Is the fat in avocados healthy?
Avocados are high in fat. But it’s not the saturated fat that you’ll find in some full-fat dairy products, red meat, and most junk food. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting saturated fat in your diet to reduce your risk of heart disease.
But a 2011 meta-analysis found no connection between saturated fat, heart disease, and stroke. It may be that trans fat, the type of fat found in partially hydrogenated oils like margarine, plays a larger role. Even so, the AHA stands by its current guidelines.
Avocados have only a trace amount of saturated fat. Most of the fat in avocados is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). MUFAs are thought to lower your total cholesterol and your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increase your “good” cholesterol (HDL).
Other health benefits of eating avocados
Avocados may play a role in cancer prevention. Studies show that the phytochemicals in avocados may prevent the growth of and cause the cell death of precancerous and cancerous cell lines.
Avocados are a good source of dietary fiber. This helps prevent constipation. One serving contains 2 grams of fiber. Fiber also helps keep you fuller longer, which may prevent overeating.
Overweight and moderately obese adult study participants who ate about half of a Hass avocado at lunch felt full for three to five hours afterward. Blood sugar levels remained more stable than those of participants who ate an avocado-free lunch.
A 2013 report found that eating avocados is associated with improved overall diet, nutrient intake, and a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.
Vitamins and minerals in avocados
Red meats may promote inflammation in the body, due in part to their saturated fat content. Inflammation is another potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Avocados may help reduce inflammation in the body.
Suggested read: 9 healthy beans and legumes you should try
A small 2012 study found that eating half of a Hass avocado with a burger instead of eating a burger alone helped reduce the production of substances that promote inflammation in the body.
According to research, avocados may help your body absorb specific nutrients from other foods.
Avocados are cholesterol-free, sodium-free, and low in sugar. They are an abundant source of many vitamins and minerals, including the following:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- B vitamins (except vitamin B12)
Should you eat avocado seeds?
You may have heard about the benefits of eating avocado seeds. Emerging research suggests that the seeds may have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
These may help some health conditions, but most of the research used avocado seed extract and not whole, fresh avocado seeds. It hasn’t yet been established if avocado seeds are safe to eat.
Ways to incorporate avocados into your diet
Creamy avocados have a nutty flavor. Try these strategies for adding them to your diet.
Suggested read: Figs: Nutrition, benefits, and downsides
Eat avocado for breakfast
- Spread mashed avocado on toast instead of butter.
- Top scrambled eggs with diced avocado.
- Crack an egg into an avocado half (skin on) and bake at 425° for about 20 minutes.
Eat avocado for lunch or dinner
- Add diced avocado to chicken salad or tuna salad.
- Add pureed avocado to a baked potato instead of sour cream.
- Stir pureed avocado into hot pasta instead of marinara sauce.
- Top your favorite burger with avocado slices.
Avocados are healthy, but that doesn’t give you carte blanche to eat them nonstop. Despite their impressive nutrition profile, if you eat too many, you’re at risk of packing on extra pounds.
When enjoyed as part of an otherwise healthy diet, on the other hand, avocados may help you lose weight. Don’t eat avocados in addition to unhealthy foods. Instead, replace unhealthy foods in your diet like sandwich spreads with avocados.
Note: If you’re allergic to latex, talk to your doctor before eating avocados. Approximately 50 percent of people allergic to latex show cross-reactivity to some fruits such as avocados, bananas, and kiwis.