These Health Benefits of Avocados Will Solidify Your Love for the Fruit
Get the lowdown on all the avocado nutrition facts, how much you should snack on, and the best ways to use the supercharged ~superfood~.
It's no secret that seemingly everyone (*raises hand*) has become pretty obsessed with avocados. Exhibit A: Tufts University scientists practically broke the internet when they announced that they were seeking people to eat an avocado each day as part of a six-month health study—and willing to pay participants $300 for their trouble. Exhibit B: The average person downs 8 pounds of avocado each year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). That's triple the amount of avocadoes folks were eating just two decades ago.
Since fruits and vegetables don't come with labels, few of the avo-obsessed are aware of the complete avocado nutrition facts, nevermind the countless health benefits of avocados. But good news: "Avocados are one of the most complete foods you can eat," says Kris Sollid, R.D., a registered dietitian and senior director of nutrition communications for the International Food Information Council.
"Many people think of avocados only for their healthy fat content, but they boast a ton of other nutritious benefits," says Jenna A. Werner, R.D., creator of Happy Slim Healthy. "Avocados provide nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, and are a good source of fiber, which many don't realize."
Discover these health benefits of avocados, plus get prep tips and inspiration about how to add more of the silky ~superfood~ to your diet.
Avocado Nutrition Facts
First things first: One serving is not an entire avocado (or even half of one). "One serving of an avocado is a third of a medium-sized avocado, which is about 80 calories," says Christy Brissette, R.D., a registered dietitian and the founder of Chicago-based nutrition and food counseling company 80 Twenty Nutrition. "I usually eat half at a meal and some of my clients eat the whole avocado based on their goals."
Here is the nutritional information for one serving (around 50 grams, or 1/3 of a medium) avocado, according to the USDA:
- 80 calories
- 7 grams fat
- 1 gram protein
- 4 grams carbohydrate
- 3 grams fiber
So, does avocado have protein? Technically yes, but just 1 gram per serving.
Although a little light when it comes to protein, the fruit is nothing short of the opposite (meaning it’s loaded) with other nutrients. ICYMI above, a single serving of the fruit serves up nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, including (but definitely not limited to) 3 grams of fiber and 40 micrograms of folate. And let's not forget that each serving has 240 milligrams of potassium, which, BTW, is more than that in a banana. NBD. (Be it from an avocado or a 'nana, potassium is one of the best minerals for boosting your workout performance and controlling blood pressure.)
Numbers are great and all—and the avocado’s nutrition facts are pretty 🔥—but they’re just one part of the picture. To really understand what makes this fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) worthy of all the hype, you need to take a look at the health benefits.
The Health Benefits of Avocados
"Avocados are a nutrient-dense food, meaning they give you a lot of health bang for your buck. The majority of the fat is heart-healthy monounsaturated, and they're naturally sodium-free," says Werner.
Whoop, there it is: the f-word, fat. Long gone are the days where all fats were considered dietary devils and TG for that. Today, it’s all about eating the right fats, such as unsaturated fats—one of which (monosaturated) can be found in avocados. Those healthy fats are one of the main players behind many of avocado's health benefits.
Lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease. Clocking in at about 5 grams per serving, the monosaturated fats in avocados—aka omega-9s, the same as those found in olive oil—have the power to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and, in turn, reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. In fact, adding one avocado each day to a moderate-fat diet was linked to lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. And compared to those who ate a low-fat, high-carb meal with the same calories, overweight or obese adults who consumed a half or whole avocado with their meal showed fewer signs of inflammation and improved markers of heart health, according to a study published in the journal Nutrients.
Help with digestion. Like many of its fellow fruits, avocados are full of fiber. More specifically, about 25 percent of the fiber in avocados is soluble, while 75 percent is insoluble, according to research. Why is that important? Because soluble fiber is soluble in water and forms a gel-like substance when it comes into contact with fluids, it takes up more space in your stomach and keeps you fuller longer. It also plays a key role in forming stool as it moves through your GI tract. (Added bonus: fiber might also reduce your risk of breast cancer.)
Stabilize blood sugar. Soluble fiber can also help stabilize blood sugar—another one of the many health benefits of avocados. Research published in Nutrition Journal found by adding about one half of an avocado at lunch, participants reported increased satisfaction and decreased desire to eat more afterward and tests showed no rise in blood sugar.
Strengthen your bones. Also on the list of 20 vitamins and minerals in each serving of the all-star fruit? Calcium and vitamins C, D, and K—all of which are key to maintaining strong bones. Simple as that.
Aid in nutrient absorption. Eat a nutrient-dense diet? You go, Glen Coco…but don’t stop there. Equally as important to consuming nutrients is being able to absorb them (to ultimately reap their benefits). Enter: avocados. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that adding avocado or avocado oil to salad or salsa can dramatically increase nutrient absorption.
How Much Avocado Should You Eat?
Yes, there can be too much of a good thing. Even considering the all-star panel of avocado nutrition facts.
"If you're crowding out other foods by eating a certain food—even the most nutritious one—so much, that can be unwise," says Brissette. "Variety is key to a healthy diet, so if avocados are your only fat source, you're missing out on different health benefits from nuts and seeds, fatty fish, and olive oil."
The biggest detail to devote attention to, suggests Werner: portion size.
"Portion depends on your nutrition goals. Eating healthy in general can be very different than eating healthy for a specific goal, such as weight loss or weight gain. Knowing your goal can help you find the proper portion and cadence of consumption for you," says Werner. (Related: Finally, An Easy-to-Follow Guide to Healthy Portion Sizes)
One serving (again, one-third of a medium-size fruit) a few times each week as part of your total calorie quota should be a safe place to start.
TL;DR: "If you're eating an avocado every day and choosing a variety of other healthy foods, great!" says Brissette. "Do you want to add an entire avocado to every meal? Probably not, unless you're trying to gain weight and want to boost calories."
How to Prep and Use Avocados
Now that you have the full rundown on the nutritional value of avocado, it's time to slice and serve the superfruit.
After you've selected a perfectly ripe avocado, use these five tips and tricks to prep and store smartly:
- Rinse it. "Even though you don't eat the outside of the avocado, remember to wash it before you cut it! Just like any fruit that you slice any dirt, germs or bacteria on the outside can be brought inside by the knife you're using," says Werner. To further convince you, a recent update on an investigation by the FDA reported that over 17 percent of avocado skin samples tested positive for listeria, so you really shouldn't skip this step.
- Slice smartly. Avoid "avocado hand" or a Meryl Streep–style avocado injury by prepping like a pro. Slice all the way around the length of the fruit and twist to separate the halves. Carefully but forcefully land the blade in the center of the pit, and twist the fruit to remove, says Morgan Bolling, senior editor at Cook's Country Magazine.
- Splash it with citrus. To maintain that fresh green color a little longer after cutting, squeeze on some lemon or lime juice, suggests Sollid. "Acidic juices like these help slow the browning process. Then cover it with clear plastic wrap and make sure to get a good tight seal. Oxygen speeds up the browning process, so for an extra layer of protection you can place your wrapped avocado in an airtight container," he says.
- Soak it in a bowl. "Store avocado halves cut-side down in a bowl of lemon water. As long as the cut side is coated in this water, it should keep it from turning brown for two days. You only need 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice for 2 cups of water," says Bolling.
- Vacuum-seal it. "Vacuum-sealing leftover halves of avocados will keep them green much longer than pretty much any other method," Bolling says, since oxygen exposure triggers the browning.
Now try these expert- and editor-approved ways to use it (beyond avocado toast):
- Use avocado instead of mayonnaise in egg salad or chicken salad.
- Substitute avocado for butter in baked goods.
- Thicken smoothies with frozen or fresh avocado.
- Grill and stuff avocado halves with corn and bean salsa.
- Thinly slice and spiral avocado pieces into a showy rose-shaped centerpiece.
- Disguise avocado in lime cheesecake filling.
- Blend avocado into margaritas.