Are Avocados Good For You?
The quick and easy answer to the question “are avocados good for you?” is a resounding “yes.” Before getting into a list of some of the top nutrient benefits of avocados, let’s cover some basics. First of all, avocados are a fruit, although there is (understandably) some confusion around this. Avocados are a unique fruit, as they primarily consist of fat instead of carbohydrates, as is the case with most other fruits.
When avocados are ripe (but not too ripe), they have a delicious, creamy, silky texture that is quite versatile and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. All avocados originate from the Persea americana species, although there are several types, mainly varying depending on where they are grown. Mexico is the worlds largest exporter of avocados, so many avocados found in the US are Mexican avocados (1).
However, no matter the origin (although organic are optimal), the nutritional benefits are impressive.
How Many Calories In an Avocado? (+ The Nutritional Breakdown)
According to Nutrition Data, avocados contain the following breakdown of nutrients (2):
- Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA.
- Folate: 20% of the RDA.
- Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 14% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA.
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA.
A 100 gram serving of avocado (roughly half of a medium sized fruit) contains 160 calories, 2 grams of protein, 15 grams of heart healthy fats, and 9 grams of carbohydrates. However, 7 of those grams are fiber, so avocados are definitely a low-carb food. The fats in avocados are mainly monounsaturated, and they are very low in saturated fats and contain no cholesterol.
7 Health Benefits of Avocados
1. The fats from avocados are incredibly healthy for your heart
Avocados are an extremely high fat food. In fact, almost 80% of this superfood is from monounsaturated fats, which are critical to heart health. The specific type of monounsaturated fat is called oleic acid, which is the same type of fat found in olive oil.
Studies show that oleic acid can reduce systemic inflammation (3), and might even help to prevent certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer (4).
2. Avocados are high in potassium
Avocados contain 727 mg. of potassium, which means they provide 21% of the RDA for potassium (5). While bananas are thought to be the best source of potassium,1 medium banana actually provides just 422 mg. Studies show than getting sufficient dietary potassium can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes, and lower blood pressure (6).
3. Avocados can lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels
Avocados are known to be heart healthy because of their ability to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which are major markers of a person’s risk of heart disease. Multiple studies have been done on avocado’s ability to lower triglycerides (7), LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and blood pressure, while also raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the blood (8).
4. Carotenoids are better absorbed with fat from avocados
Many fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, which are yellow-orange pigments that offer a huge list of health benefits. However, carotenoids (a type of antioxidant) should be taken with fat in order to be effectively absorbed by your cells, and studies have shown that avocado greatly increases the absorption of carotenoids. Foods particularly high in these health-promoting compounds include sweet potatoes, carrots and dark leafy greens.
One study even found that adding avocado to these foods can increase carotenoid absorption by up to 15% (9). So, the next time you are eating carotenoid-rich foods, add half or even a whole avocado to the mix.
5. Avocados promote eye health
Avocados are high in the important antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which are key for vision support and overall eye health (10). These antioxidants are known to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, so eating avocados on a regular basis can have major preventative effects as you age.
6. Avocados ease joint pain and swelling associated with arthritis
While more studies are needed to know if simply eating the fruit itself offers this benefit, studies have shown that avocado oil can ease the pain associated with osteoarthritis (11).
7. Avocados are excellent for weight loss
Last but certainly not least, avocados are a great addition to a healthy diet with the goal of weight loss. Out of the three macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat), fat is the slowest burning macronutrient and therefore keeps us fuller for a longer period of time. Without enough good fat in the diet, we are likely to experience sugar cravings and increased hunger.
One study found that avocado eaters felt 23% more satisfied for longer after meals, and 28% less likely to eat over the next 5 hours (12).
6 Best Ways to Enjoy Avocado
Now that we’ve covered some of the vast avocado health benefits, let’s look at some of the most delicious ways to enjoy this superfood in your diet.
1. Alongside eggs in the morning
Eggs are another superfood, but alone they aren’t likely to keep you full for all that long. Cooking eggs in a healthy oil such as coconut oil and enjoying alongside several slices of avocado sprinkled with sea salt is a delicious and satisfying way to start the day.
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2. Add to a smoothie
This one might sound a little odd, but the creamy texture and subtle taste of avocado make a great addition to your favorite smoothie. Try combining 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen berries, 1/2 a ripe avocado, 1/2 tbsp. cacao powder, 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk and a dash of honey if needed for sweetness with ice. Blend and serve!
3. Make a decadent chocolate mousse
If you want to impress your friends with a rich and delicious dessert that they won’t believe is actually healthy for them, try serving this avocado mousse. It is delicious by itself, or can be enjoyed alongside a bit of ice cream (try coconut bliss, or with sliced fruit.
4. Incorporate as part of an on-the-go lunch
Running out the door? No problem. Pack a can of wild tuna or salmon, 1 sliced avocado, 1 sliced tomato and a handful of mixed greens. Done!
5. Add to every and any salad
Avocado can really bout the satiety factor of your salads (how much they fill you up), and go well with just about any salad you might be preparing. Try mixed greens with avocado, tomato, thinly sliced onion, cubed mango and a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
[Related: Massaged Kale Salad]
6. Indulge in guacamole
Who doesn’t love chips and guacamole? Instead of the store-bought version that often includes preservatives and other chemicals, make your own by simply mashing together very ripe avocados with some minced garlic and onion, salt and fresh lemon juice. Add a bit of diced jalapeño pepper or powdered cayenne pepper if you like spice, and enjoy with sliced veggies, baked corn chips or on top of fresh, homemade tacos.
Conclusion: Yes! Avocados are Very Good for You
Aside from the fact that they can help to prevent heart disease and cancer, support weight loss and vision health, and are one of the best dietary sources of potassium, they are also a filling and tasty treat that can be added to most any meal (and even some desserts).
Don’t fear the fact that avocados are a high fat food, and rest assured that they should definitely be part of your healthy diet.
(Read this next: Is Gluten Bad for You?)