In this post, I’ll discuss the top 5 main avocado health benefits that this fruit provides you with. I’ll also discuss some ways you can include it in your diet for stronger, more vibrant health!
Avocados have been getting a lot of attention for the past few years, and for good reasons, too. They’re not only heavenly delicious, but chock full of nutrients as well. Here in Puerto Rico, avocados are one of those foods that cause immediate sensation when they appear in a meal. “¡Aguagate, que rico!”, we exclaim when someone offers us a slice in the lunchroom at work. When they’re in season, you can find them basically everywhere here; I even have a tree in my own backyard! We love them with serenata de bacalao (a typical dish of salted cod fish and starchy vegetables), classic rice and beans, or just eaten by itself. And since avocado health benefits are so powerful, we love them even more!
I absolutely adore eating avocados, and I’m so excited because the tree in my backyard (I love in Puerto Rico) grew them this year. Two years ago, Hurricane María left it completely bare, but it didn’t knock it down!? Last year it was in recovery mode, but this summer I had a pretty good harvest of these huge, buttery flavored avocados. Yum!
Avocado nutrition facts
With their bright green color and creamy texture, avocados certainly lend culinary interest to many dishes. Avocados are commonly eaten as a vegetable, but botanically speaking, they’re actually a fruit. They differ from most fruit due to their high fat content. In fact, avocados are the fruit with the highest fat content of all! But don’t worry. As you’ll see later on, these are the kinds of fats you want in your diet.
A serving of this fruit is officially 1/3 of an avocado as of 2016 . Here, I include the selected nutrients for this particular serving size (1/3 avocado or 50 g), but the Love One Today website has this awesome PDF that includes the nutritional content of other serving sizes.
|Nutrients||Amounts||% Daily Value (DV) based on a 2000 calorie diet|
|Total Fat||8 g||12%|
|Saturated Fat||1.05 g||6%|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||1 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||5 g|
|Total Omega-3 fatty acids||55 mg|
|Total Omega-6 fatty acids||845 mg|
|Total Carbohydrates||4 g||1.5%|
|Dietary Fiber||3 g||14%|
|Vitamin A||73 IU||1.5%|
|Vitamin C||5 mg||9%|
|Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)||1 mg||5%|
|Vitamin K||11 mcg||13%|
Avocados are a nutrient dense food. It’s high in heart healthy fats, and a good source of fiber. Avocados also provide you with folate, vitamin K and vitamin C, as well as some potassium, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. Lastly, they are naturally free of cholesterol and trans fats, and very low in sodium.
Avocado health benefits are potent. Here, we take a look at five of their main nutritional properties and health benefits, which are also backed by scientific evidence.
5 main nutritional properties of avocados (and their health benefits)
Cardiovascular health: Are avocados good for your heart?
Avocados are rich in healthy fats that protect your heart health. Around 77% of the calories in avocado come from fat. These are monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically. They mainly promote heart health by improving blood lipid levels.
The fats in avocados help lower “bad” blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and help improve “good” blood cholesterol levels. Since heart disease is the main cause of death worldwide, it’s in our best interest to do all we can to protect our heart health, especially with good nutrition.
It’s recommended to swap out saturated and trans fats, and use more mono and polyunsaturated fats, such as avocado, olive oil, and canola oil, for better heart health.
Another way avocados are good for your heart is because they provide potassium. A diet high in potassium helps manage and improve blood pressure, therefore reducing the risk of stroke, and protecting heart health overall.
Potassium helps reduce the effect sodium has on blood pressure by improving sodium loss through the urine. It also helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps to further lower blood pressure. Avocados provide us with this mineral, therefore further contributing to promote cardiovascular health.
Weight management: Do avocado make you gain weight?
This fruit helps promote a healthy weight. The fats in avocados also contribute to weight loss by maintaining satiety. Since fats take longer to digest than carbs, they help us stay fuller longer. This particular and very recent published study found that “including 1 Hass avocado daily in a hypocaloric diet intervention for 12 week resulted in similar weight loss as that achieved by consuming a hypocaloric diet without avocado.”
However, remember that because avocados are high in calories, it can be easy to eat too much without realizing it. Try to work them into your daily fat intake recommendations in order to avoid getting too much of a good thing!
Want to know how many calories and food group portions you need daily? Start with the MyPlate calculator below! (But always consult with your personal healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle)
Digestive health: Is avocado good for your stomach?
Avocados are a good source of fiber. One serving of avocado has 3 grams of fiber, which represents 14% of the recommended Daily Values for a 2000 calorie diet. The current fiber recommendations are 25 grams daily.
Avocados contain both insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is characterized as “woodlike”; this is the one we associate with fruit and vegetable peels, as well as whole wheat cereals. The insoluble fiber in avocados help us avoid constipation, so it’s great for digestive health.
Soluble fiber is known to be “gel like”, since that’s what it tends to form when in contact with liquids. This type of fiber in avocados helps lower blood cholesterol levels by binding it and removing it from the body before it’s absorbed. Soluble fiber also helps control blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Avocado and immune health: Does it help protect you from infections?
This fruit contains powerful antioxidants. Avocados have vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant. It helps neutralize free radicals, which can damage cells and promote disease. Vitamin E also helps improve immune function and prevents blood clots from forming in the arteries.
Avocados also contain lycopene and beta-carotene, which are important carotenoid antioxidants. This type of antioxidant has been associated with reduced risk of developing certain types of cancer. Lycopene has also been shown to have an important role in protecting vascular health.
Lutein is also present in avocados, and this antioxidant is associated with protecting eye health and cognitive function. Higher intake of lutein is associated with reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Finally, another one of avocado health benefits is that they’re a good source of glutathione, a very powerful antioxidant associated with immune health, and supports keeping your body strong to help to fight against sickness over time.
Avocados as nutrient boosters
Interestingly, their fat content helps improve nutrient absorption. Some nutrients, like fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) need fat in order to be absorbed by the body. Antioxidants like alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein also require some fat for absorption as well.
Thankfully, since avocado is so high in healthy fats, it helps with the absorption of its own nutrients, as well as others that are also present in the meal. Now how’s that for a nutritional superpower?
How to eat avocado
Knowing what we now know about avocado health benefits, it makes sense to include them more frequently in our diets. And fortunately, this is such a delightfully flavored fruit, that it’s a piece of (avocado?) cake.
Avocados can be eaten in so many ways (even by itself), such as in:
- Hummus and other dips, salsas and dressings
If you want to know when an avocado is ripe, it should feel slightly soft to the touch. If it’s too soft, it may be over ripe, which is NBD since then it’s perfect for guacamole! If it’s still too firm, don’t do like I’ve done so many times and cut it open in the hope that actually it’s ripe when it’s definitely not! If they’re taking too long to ripen, a trick my husband uses is to place them in paper bags and then store them in the oven, and in a day or two, they’re ready for devouring!
How to keep avocados from browning
Once you cut it, avocado tends to turn dark as it’s exposed to air. You can store it in an air tight container such as this one in order to keep it fresh longer. Guacamole also tends to oxidize rapidly, but this container helps preserve its creamy goodness for more snack times.
So many reasons to eat avocado!
As you can see, avocado health benefits are extraordinary. It’s quite the nutritional superhero, protecting and promoting your health. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also appetizing and very versatile in cooking. Now that they’re not really in season here, I really miss eating them with my all time favorite rice and beans. And can you believe I’ve never had avocado toast, BTW?
So next time you enjoy this fruit, take the time to feel good about all the ways you’re nourishing your health. By including more fresh, plant based foods in your diet, like avocados, you’re providing your body with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and healthy fats. All of which are key to optimizing health.
And now on to you: do you think you could benefit from adding avocado to your diet? How do you usually prefer to eat them? Is there a favorite recipe you have that includes this impressive food? If so, share it below in the comments section!
Hi! I’m Melissa, Registered Dietitian and mother of two dragons. When I’m not talking nutrition you can find me rolling around the floor with my kids, sewing, crafting, cooking or missing the 90s (seriously, music just isn’t the same). Read More…