Many people think of avocados as a vegetable, but they're actually a type of fruit (you'll commonly find them in fruit salads in some countries) and more specifically a berry because they have a seed and soft flesh. If you're interested in this little piece of general knowledge, you should also know that tomatoes are also classified as berries, but strawberries aren't!
The avocado is thought to originate from Mexico of course - what else would you expect from the home of guacamole and other delicious foods? Avocados are now grown all over the world where the climate is right (mainly in the tropics and Mediterranean countries); but the most delicious avocados still come from Mexico, where they soak in energy from the sun and absorb nutrients from the rich Mexican soil.
Because it is a source of good fats, with its creamy texture, and mild flavor, avocados are a very flexible ingredient that can be used in many different types of dishes. Fresh avocado doesn't only taste great, it's also a nutritional powerhouse. Read on to find out more about the benefits of avocado and what makes it so healthy and nutritious.
Avocados are called a superfood for good reason: they're like the comic book heros of fruits! Avocados contribute unsaturated "good" fats, and good fats can help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients Vitamins A, D, K, and E. Healthy avocados contain 6g of naturally good fat per serving - one-third of a medium avocado. Good fats help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients without raising LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels when eaten as part of a healthy diet.
The average avocado weighs 150 grams (g) and contains 240 calories, or 80 calories per 50g serving. If you're watching your weight and thinking about striking avocado out of your diet - don't! The extra calories in an avocado are well worth the nutritional benefits.
The main reason that avocado calories are higher than other fruits is because they're high in fat with about 90% of calorific energy coming from fat. Again, don't panic! High fat doesn't mean bad as we'll explain in a minute. You can see the full nutritional breakdown of avocados in the table below:
Avocado Nutritional Facts
1/3 Medium Avocado (50g)
Avocados also contain almost 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Healthy avocados
are a good source of five essential nutrients fiber, folate, vitamin K, pantothenic acid, and
copper. Avocados also contribute the following nutrients:
An average, medium-sized avocado contains 24g of fat, which is the highest fat content of
any fruit. Most fruits have a high carbohydrate content and only a trace amount of fat, but
the avocado likes to be different and switch things around. 75% (18g) of that fat is good,
The fat content of avocados is what makes their flesh so creamy (and means you can
blend them up into the most delicious ice cream).
Most of the fat in avocados comes from fatty acids called oleic acid. This is a
monounsaturated fat that is also the largest component of olive oil. Dieticians
often call monounsaturated fats "good fats" as they have so many benefits to the human body.
Avocados have 6g of monounsaturated fat which makes them virtually the only fresh fruit
with good fats. They can be a delicious way to help people meet the Dietary Guidelines
recommendation to limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats by replacing
saturated fat with good fats. The good fats in avocados helps the body to absorb vitamins
A, D, and K, and E. They contribute 6g of naturally good fat per 50g serving, one-third of a
Over 75% of fat in the avocado is unsaturated. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats can reduce bad cholesterol in the blood and help the body to process fats.
As you can see from the table above, avocados don't contain any cholesterol, which is
great news for your health. They actually contribute a substance called phytosterols to ones
diet. They have 38 milligrams of betasitosterol per 50g serving, Beta-sitosterol is one of the
three predominant phytosterols found in plants. These compounds may help maintain
healthy cholesterol levels. Phytosterols are plant sterols naturally found in plants that are
molecularly similar to animal cholesterol. In the intestine, research has shown that they can
act to lower the absorption of cholesterol. According to the FDA, 2 grams of phytosterols per
day may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Not all cholesterol is bad - the human body needs cholesterol to function properly, however
some foods (those high in saturated fat) raise the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. If
you've been paying attention, you'll know that the fat in avocados is monounsaturated and
polyunsaturated, which are known as good types of fat and does not raise cholesterol levels.
Eating sources of good fats in place of saturated fats is also recommended by the
American Heart Association to help control cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of
cardiovascular disease. One way you could do this is by using mashed avocado in
sandwiches instead of spreads that are high in saturated fats.
Avocados are naturally sodium-free, which is just another great reason to make them part
of your heart-healthy diet. According to the USDA's 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, reducing
your sodium intake can lower your blood pressure, which in turn lowers your risk of
In fact, one serving of avocado provides 6% of your daily potassium needs. A diet rich in
potassium can help offset some of sodium's harmful effects on blood pressure.
Want to reduce your intake of calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium? Try
substituting fresh, healthy avocado in sandwiches, on toast, or as a spread in place of many
other popular foods. There are plenty of low-sodium recipes and meals featuring avocados
that are as tasty as they are healthy!
The next time you reach for popular spreads or condiments, consider reaching into a
fruit bowl for an avocado instead. Whether using it for baking or as a
creamy dressing for a sandwich, avocados can provide an excellent (and delicious) way to
reduce your intake of calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol.
As you probably know, protein is an important part of your diet as the body needs it to build and
repair tissues. This is why you'll see body builders drinking protein shakes after a big workout.
When combined with eggs, avocados also make a great post-workout snack. In addition to
providing 1 gram of protein, avocados are a good source of fiber (11% of the Daily Value per 50g
serving) and contain 5 g of monounsaturated fat. Eggs provide the additional high-quality protein
that encourages muscle tissue repair & growth. Perfect for providing your body with the nutrition it
needs to recover and build those muscles!
Most fruits are high in carbohydrates, but the avocado is actually a low-carb fruit,
contributing 4g per 50g serving. More importantly, only a trace amount of this carbohydrate
is sugar, and the rest is fiber-more on that below.
Avocados are the lowest sugar fruits as they contain only a trace amount of sugar - little
enough to be officially classed as "sugar free". The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the
American Heart Association recommend eating less nutrient-poor foods, and limiting the
amount of saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars and sodium consumed.
As mentioned previously, most of the carbohydrate content of
avocados comes from fiber. A one-third serving of a medium
avocado (50g) contains 3g of fiber, or 11% of the
recommended daily consumption of fiber.
Fiber is essential in the diet to ensure good digestive health
and help keep one feeling fuller longer. Dietary fiber from fruit,
as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood
cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Healthy
avocados are a good source of fiber (11% of the DV) and are
a great way to add variety to the diet.
Consuming fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber may
reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes and
protect against the risk of certain cancers. Unfortunately,
according to the Dietary Guidelines for American, fiber is
one of the under consumed nutrients.
Avocados are a good source of natural fiber, which has the
added benefit of making you feel full and can help prevent
More than 75 percent of the fat in avocados is considered "good" fat, with 5 grams per 50-ounce serving coming from monounsaturated fat and 1 gram from polyunsaturated fat. Avocados also contain 80 calories per serving and are free of cholesterol and sodium. Avocados are virtually the only healthy fruit with good fats and are a delicious way to help people meet the Dietary Guidelines for American's recommendations to shift from eating saturated fat to good fats.
Still not convinced avocados should be a part of your daily diet? Consider this:
You should now have a good understanding of why dieticians rave about the nutrition in avocados and why pretty much anyone can benefit from eating them regularly as part of a healthy diet.
Don't avoid avocados because they're higher in fat and calories than other fruits. Avocados are truly a, "super food", so you can enjoy that guacamole or avocado salad knowing you're doing your body good.
Just like fresh fruits and vegetables in general, eating avocados is associated have a number of nutritional benefits. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, along with shifting to foods that are nutrient-dense, it is also suggested to shift to reducing saturated fats to less than 10 percent of calories per day. Individuals should aim to shift food choices from those high in saturated fats to those contributing polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Avocados can be part of a healthy diet, here are a few other reasons to enjoy your favorite green fruit: