Did you know that the avocado is a fruit? This unique food is classified that way because of the large seed (often called a pit) in the middle, which is embedded into its green, buttery flesh.
Whatever you call them, avocados are some of the most versatile and nutritious foods available today. If you’re concerned about whether avocados are healthy, you can rest assured that they definitely are!
Avocados can be found on grocery shelves all over the country, and if you know how to choose the right one, you’ll find smooth green flesh that tastes equally amazing mashed into guacamole or sliced on toast. However, make sure you choose carefully! Buying an overripe avocado will lead to a disappointing mess of brown and grey mush.
Today, we’ll guide you through the nutrients of avocados, and show you how they can be enjoyed by individuals with a variety of eating habits, health conditions, and more.
When It Comes to Nutrients, Are Avocados Healthy?
The avocado is so nutrient-dense that it’s often referred to as a super-food. That’s because despite its higher calorie count (roughly 160 calories per half) an avocado offers 20 different vitamins and minerals per serving.
Here’s an introduction to the most important nutrients you’ll find in every avocado.
Since avocados are high in calories relative to their size, the serving size for an avocado is actually quite small – just 100 grams, which is usually about 1/3rd to 1/5th of an avocado, depending on its size.
Every serving of avocado offers an astounding 26% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin K, an important nutrient that’s critical for a healthy blood flow. Vitamin K also helps to prevent blood clots, which is what stops us from bleeding excessively when we’re injured.
Folate, also known as Vitamin B9, is an important nutrient that we all get from avocados. Just one serving of avocado offers 20% of the average adult’s daily recommended intake of this critical vitamin, which helps with the healthy creation of red and white blood cells, as well as the production of both DNA and RNA.
It’s so critical to these essential building blocks of life that most pregnant women take folate supplements both before and during their pregnancy to help avoid fetal neural defects and help support the healthy growth of the baby.
Most of us are familiar with Vitamin C from a young age and are used to finding it in citrus fruit and juice. However, avocados are also rich in this important vitamin, offering 17% of the daily recommended value in every serving.
Vitamin C is extremely important to a myriad of physical processes, including protein metabolism, wound healing, and immune function. In extreme cases, not enough Vitamin C will leave you vulnerable to scurvy, a disease that can cause physical weakness and exhaustion because of decreased red blood cells.
Vitamins B5 and B6
An avocado offers 14% and 13% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamins B5 and B6, respectively. These essential B vitamins both support your metabolism, with B5 working to synthesize cholesterol and nourish healthy blood, while B6 is critical to the development of DNA and neurotransmitters.
Most people who want to boost their potassium intake after a hard workout reach for a banana, which offers about 10% of your daily recommended intake of this critical mineral. It may surprise you to learn that avocados contain 50-100% more potassium than the average banana! Potassium is prized for its ability to promote the healthy contraction of muscles and reduce high blood pressure.
In addition to these nutrients, avocados are high in fiber and offer 15 grams of healthy monounsaturated fatty acid. They have no cholesterol or sodium, and even the 9 grams of carbs found in each serving are offset by 7 grams of fiber.
Are Avocados Healthy for Weight Loss?
Although avocados are relatively high in calories per serving, they can be used strategically if you’re trying to lose weight. First, pay attention to serving sizes. One serving is typically less than ½ of an avocado. If you want the benefits of this healthy food, make sure not to over-indulge. Use one half, then smear the other half with lime or lemon juice (to prevent browning) and cover it in plastic wrap to save for later.
However, don’t avoid avocados just because of the calories. The healthy fats and the fiber will help keep you fuller for longer, which helps you avoid snacking between meals.
Are Avocados Healthy for People with Diabetes?
Avocados are great for people with diabetes because they don’t seem to affect blood sugar levels, since they’re low in both natural sugar and carbs and high in fiber. Avocados have also been shown to help improve insulin sensitivity, making it easier to use insulin effectively.
Are Avocados Healthy for Your Heart?
Despite being labeled as part of the total fat content, the monounsaturated fatty acids found in avocados can help lower bad cholesterol, which reduces risks for heart disease and strokes. Studies have confirmed that eating some avocado every day can help lower cholesterol, even above other foods that contain similar monounsaturated fatty acids, like olive oil.
How Can You Incorporate Avocados Into Your Diet?
Avocados are incredibly versatile and can be prepared in a variety of ways. However, you need to start with a ripe avocado. To pick the best one, look at the color, and examine the give of each fruit by pressing or squeezing gently. A ripe avocado should have a bit of give, like a ripe tomato. You can also examine the stem end of the avocado – if it’s brown and already moldy, chances are the flesh inside is overripe.
Here are a few of our favorite avocado dishes.
Guacamole is a classic Mexican dip, made primarily from avocados mixed with salt, lime juice, jalapenos, and often cilantro or white onion. It’s usually eaten with tortilla chips, but to make it a bit healthier, scoop it up with cut vegetables like carrots, celery, jicama, or bell pepper.
Avocado toast is simply cut or mashed avocado, smeared on toasted bread. There are thousands of different variations, depending on your palate.
You can top it simply with flaky sea salt, cayenne pepper, or red pepper flakes, or go all-out by adding sliced or grated cheese, chopped vegetables, or a protein like smoked salmon, bacon, or eggs. There’s no wrong way to make avocado toast.
Avocado makes a great salad ingredient – you just have to eat it immediately after it’s prepared, so the avocado doesn’t brown. Make it into a chunky chopped salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions, or use it as a topping on a leafy green salad. The choice is yours.
Fresh Spring Rolls with Avocado
Classic Vietnamese fresh spring rolls are made with a variety of tasty ingredients, all wrapped together in a rice paper wrap. Traditionally, these rolls contain rice noodles, bean sprouts, and herbs like basil and mint. From there, you can personalize them however you like. Slices of avocado add a creamy, unctuous note to these crunchy rolls, and increase each roll’s fiber, calorie, and monounsaturated fat content.
Should You Be Eating Avocados?
Avocados are a great addition to any healthy diet, since they’re rich in vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. However, you should always eat them in moderation, since they are not low in calories.
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