Avocado Nutrition

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.

Avocado Nutritional Facts

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)

%DV

Calories

80

Total Fat

8g 10%

Saturated Fat

1g 5%

Trans Fat

0g

Polyunsaturated Fat

1g

Monounsaturated Fat

5g

Cholesterol

0mg 0%

Sodium

0mg 0%

Total Carbohydrate

4g 1%

Dietary Fiber

3g 1%

Sugars

0g

Added Sugars

0g 0%

Protein

1g

Vitamin D

0mcg 0%

Calcium

10mg 0%

Iron

0.3mg 2%

Potassium

250mg 6%

Vitamin A

0mg 0%

Vitamin C

4mg 4%

Vitamin E

1mg 6%

Vitamin K

11ug 10%

Thiamin

0.04mg 4%

Riboflavin

0.10mg 8%

Niacin

1.0mg 6%

Vitamin B6

0.1mg 6%

Folate

45mcg 10%

Pantothenic acid

0.7mg 14%

Phosphorus

30mg 2%

Magnesium

15mg 4%

Zinc

0.3mg 2%

Copper

0.1mg 10%

Manganese

0.1mg 4%

Fats and Avocados

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, monounsaturated fat.

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).

If you think all high fat foods are bad for you, think again.

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 medium avocado.

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.

Swapping For Avocados

The next time you reach for a stick of butter or jar of mayonnaise, consider reaching into a fruit bowl for an avocado instead. Whether using it for baking in lieu of butter 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.

Avocado

1/3 of a Medium

80 Calories

1(g) Satured Fat

0(mg) Cholesterol

0(mg) Sodium

Avocado 50(g)

Butter

1 Tbsp. 100 12 7 13 90

Sour cream

82 Tbsp. 45 4.5 3 10 10

Margarine

1 Tbsp. 100 11 2 0 95

Cheese

1 oz. (1 slice) 10 19 5 30 180

Mayo

1 Tbsp. 0 10 1.5 5 90
Reference: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28 (2015)

Cholesterol and Avocados

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.

Vitamins and Minerals in Avocados

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:

  • Vitamin C boosts your immune system, acts as an antioxidant to repair cells in the body (4% of the daily value of vitamin C is contained in one serving of avocado)
  • Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic acid – helps the body to convert food into energy (a serving of avocado provides 14% of your daily recommended intake)
  • Vitamin B9 – Folate – important for producing new cells and supporting the nervous system. It’s particularly valuable in pregnancy to ensure the health of the growing fetus. Avocados are a good source of folate per 50g serving, one-third of a medium avocado.
  • Vitamin E an antioxidant that protects the body tissue from damage and helps keep the immune system strong against viruses and bacteria (6% of the daily value is provided by one 50g serving of an avocado)
  • Vitamin K needed to help blood clotting and healthy bones and also has other functions in the body (a 50g serving of avocado provides 10% of your daily value)
  • Potassium helps to reduce the harmful effects of sodium on blood pressure and replaces essential electrolytes lost through sweat (254 mg or 6% daily value of potassium is included in a 50g serving of avocado)
  • Cooper a trace element that’s essential in the body for keeping the blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones healthy (a 50g serving of avocado provides 10% of the daily value of copper)
  • Carotenoids, lutein & zeaxanthin plant pigments found in the macula of the eye, and some research suggests that they may maintain eye health as you grow older. (avocados have 136mcg per 50g serving)

Sugar and Avocados

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.

Protein in Avocado

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!

Carbohydrates
and Avocados

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.

Fiber and Avocados

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 like avocados 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 overeating.

Diets and Avocados

Hopefully by now you should see that avocados shouldn’t be judged on their calorie level alone and are a nutrient dense source of nutrients that you should include in your diet regularly. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association recommend eating a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help one control their weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. Avocados are a healthy nutrient-rich food that can help boost fruit intake.
Avocados are a good food to include in many types of diets including:

  • Plant based diets avocados contribute 1g protein per 50g serving, or one-third of a medium avocado, and are a great addition to a vegetarian style diet.
  • Heart-healthy diets eating avocados can prevent the increase of bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Avocados can be eaten as part of the DASH diet, which helps control blood pressure.
  • Low sugar diets avocados are a sugar-free fruit option, and may help prevent an early preference for sweet foods in children.
  • Weight management diets although they’re relatively high in fat and calories, avocados are nutritionally dense and their 11% daily value of fiber help you to feel full for longer. Healthy avocado makes a great substitution for bad fats and may also help the body absorb fat soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, K and E. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a diet plan that substitutes good fats in place of bad, within moderation, to receive the nutritional benefits of dietary fat without raising bad cholesterol.

As with all foods, it’s important to not overindulge and to follow a healthy eating pattern. This includes a healthy mix of vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and protein. The table below illustrates recommended food intake patterns for children 9 years old and older and adults based off their calorie needs.

Calorie
Level of
Pattern

1,600

1,800

2,000

2,200

2,400

2,600

2,200

2,400

2,600

2,800

3,000

3,200

Food Group

Vegetables

2 c-eq 2½ c-eq 2½ c-eq 3 c-eq 3 c-eq 3½ c-eq 3 c-eq 3 c-eq 3½ c-eq 3½ c-eq 3½ c-eq 4 c-eq

Dark-green
vegetables
(c-eq/wk)

2 2 2 2

Red and
orange
vegetables
(c-eq/wk)

4 6 6 7 6 6 7 7

Legumes
(beans and
peas) (c-eq/wk)

1 2 2 2 2 3 3

Starchy
vegetables
(c-eq/wk)

4 5 5 6 6 7 6 6 7 7 8 8

Other
vegetables
(c-eq/wk)

4 4 5 5 5 5 7 7

Fruits

1½ c-eq 1½ c-eq 2 c-eq 2 c-eq 2 c-eq 2 c-eq 2 c-eq 2 c-eq 2 c-eq 2½ c-eq 2½ c-eq 2½ c-eq

Grains

5 oz-eq 6 oz-eq 6 oz-eq 7 oz-eq 8 oz-eq 9 oz-eq 7 oz-eq 8 oz-eq 9 oz-eq 10 oz-eq 10 oz-eq 10 oz-eq

Whole grains d (oz-eq/day)

3 3 3 4 4 5 5 5

Refined grains (oz-eq/day)

2 3 3 4 4 5 5 5

Dairy

3 c-eq 3 c-eq 3 c-eq 3 c-eq 3 c-eq 3 c-eq 3 c-eq 3 c-eq 3 c-eq 3 c-eq 3 c-eq 3 c-eq

Protein Foods

5 oz-eq 5 oz-eq 5½ oz-eq 6 oz-eq 6½ oz-eq 6 oz-eq 6½ oz-eq 6½ oz-eq 6½ oz-eq 7 oz-eq 7 oz-eq 7 oz-eq

Seafood

8 9 10 10 9 10 10 10 10 10 10 10

Meat poultry, eggs (oz-eq/wk)

23 23 26 28 31 31 28 31 31 33 33 33

Nuts seeds, soy products (oz-eq/wk)

4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 6 6 6

Oils

22g 24g 27g 29g 31g 34g 29g 31g 34g 36g 44g 51g

Limit on Calories for Other Uses, calories (% of calories)

130
(8%)
170
(14%)
270
(13%)
280
(15%)
350
(15%)
380
(13%)
280
(15%)
350
(15%)
280
(15%)
400
(14%)
470
(16%)
610
(19%)

The Avocado – Tasty & Healthy

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 Americans’ recommendations to shift from eating saturated fat to good fats.

Still not convinced avocados should be a part of your daily diet? Consider this:

Avocados contain 20 vitamins and minerals and include beneficial plant compounds that can
enhance the nutrient quality of one’s diet.

Why naturally good fats? Because the body needs some dietary fat in moderation to help with absorption of nutrients. Good fats do not raise LDL “bad” cholesterol levels. Healthy avocados contain 6g of naturally good fat per 50g serving, one-third of a medium avocado.

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.

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