Are you an avocado lover? Avocado is not only delicious, but it contains a magnitude of nutritional components. Avocado one of the tastiest and simplest ways to consume healthy fats.
Avocados are an easy addition to almost any meal or snack and can be a great substitution for certain baking ingredients when you want to try a healthy swap.
Not only are they flavorful, but are you aware of all the wonderful health benefits that eating avocados may do for you?
Keep reading to find out all about avocado history, ways to consume it, and the amazing nutrition and benefits that eating it can do for you.
Table of Contents
- History and Facts
- Nutrition Facts
- Benefits of Avocado
- Ways to Enjoy
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Health Risks of Avocados
History and Facts
Avocado, also known as Persea Americana, originated in Mexico, Central or South America, and has shown to be cultivated as early as 500 BC in Mexico (1). Avocado belongs to the plant family Lauraceae, with other foods from this family including cinnamon and sassafras (2). The first mention of avocado in the English language was in 1696 (3). Later on, avocados were brought to California from Mexico with avocado trees. Although there were around 25 varieties of avocados by the 1950s, Hass avocados became the leader for the most popular type of avocado. (4) Soon after, Hass avocado became the primary variety of avocados worldwide. Currently, Mexico is the leading producer of avocados. (5)
You will find a ripe avocado typically has a creamy, smooth texture and is typically dark green with bumpy skin on the outside, and light green on the inside. Typically, avocados are available year-round, but in California, its season starts in the fall and continues through spring.
Summary:Avocado originates from Mexico where it continues to be the leading producer in the world. When avocado is ready to eat, you will find it has a creamy and smooth texture on the inside.
Avocado is packed with healthy nutrients and possesses an impressive nutrient profile. Check out some of the several macronutrients and tons of vitamins and minerals one contains below.
Per one whole avocado (around 136 grams, without skin and seed), some of its highlighted nutrient facts include (6):
- Calories: 227 kcal: Avocado is considered a medium energy-dense food, meaning it is slightly higher in the number of calories per gram of weight. If eaten excessively, it may lead to weight gain.
- Protein:67 grams
- Fat:9 grams
- Carbohydrate:8 grams
- Fiber:25 grams: Avocado contains a high amount of fiber compared to other foods. It contains both insoluble and soluble fiber.
Vitamins and Minerals
Below are just some of the bunches of vitamins and minerals that you will find in just one avocado (7):
- Magnesium:4 milligrams (mg), 9% of Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Phosphorus:4 milligrams (mg), 5.8% of RDI
- Potassium: 690 milligrams (mg), 14.7% of RDI
- Sodium:9 milligrams (mg)
- Vitamin C: 12 milligrams (mg), 13% of RDI
- Folate: 121 micrograms (mcg), 30% of RDI
- Choline:3 milligrams (mg), 3.5% of RDI
- Beta carotene:7 micrograms (mcg)
- Vitamin A: 200 international units (IU)
- Lutein + Zeaxanthin: 369 micrograms (mcg)
- Vitamin E:68 micrograms (mcg)
- Vitamin K:6 micrograms (mcg)
- Saturated fat:9 grams (g)
- Monounsaturated fat:3 grams (g)
- Polyunsaturated fat: 2.5 grams (g)
As you can see above, avocados are so much more than a part of a tasty meal or snack. Avocados contain a low amount of sodium and fair amounts of potassium, and magnesium, all important for heart health.
Compared to other vegetable oils, avocado oils are high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), both of which play a role in being beneficial for heart, metabolic, and gut health (8)(9).
Avocados contain nutrients including beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and folate, all of which are extremely important for maintaining eye health.
Keep in mind that the official avocado serving made by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act is 50 grams, which is around 1/3 of a whole avocado. (10)
Summary: Avocado is a powerhouse of nutrients and is at the top of the food chain when it comes to the number of healthy fats it contains in addition to fiber.
Benefits of Avocado
Avocado is known as a healthy fat and is beneficial for health. The benefits of consuming avocados date back to the 1960s (11). Check out some of the many health benefits of avocado.
Did You Know?: Avocado consumers tend to consume more key nutrients like fiber, vitamin K, vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium, than non-avocado consumers (12).
It May Promote Weight Loss
Avocado has been shown to have similar effects on weight control as low-fat fruits and vegetables, meaning it may play a role in promoting weight loss. (13) Even though avocado contains a larger amount of fat and more calories per gram, people that consume avocados are more likely to have a lower weight, BMI, and waist circumference than non-avocado consumers. (14)(15) Additionally, avocado consumers have higher diet quality and lower amounts of fat in their bodies compared to non-consumers (16).
Summary: Similar to low-fat fruits and vegetables, consuming avocado may help you lose weight. Adults who consume avocado tend to have a lower weight, BMI, and waist circumference than non-consumers.
It May Improve Heart Health
Cardiovascular disease continues to be the number one cause of death in the United States. (17) Surprisingly (maybe not so surprising), managing one’s lifestyle is part of the foundation for preventing cardiovascular disease and maintaining heart health, including dietary choices.
When studying heart health, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or the “bad” cholesterol levels are one of the most looked at measurements in dietary intervention studies. Eating avocado has been shown to have beneficial effects on the LDL cholesterol level by reducing its levels significantly. (18) In a large US study, higher intakes of avocados were associated with a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. (19)
Other research studies have shown that getting enough potassium in the diet may promote blood pressure control in adults. A whole avocado contains around 15% of the reference daily intake (RDI), meaning that avocado can be one of the foods that help contribute to achieving controlled blood pressure (20). Additionally, avocados are naturally quite low in sodium, which is one of the minerals to avoid if you have high blood pressure.
Avocados contain around 35 mg of magnesium per avocado, which is about 9% of the RDI. Some studies show that consuming magnesium has an inverse relationship with the risk of coronary heart disease in men and improve lipid levels in adults (21).
Summary: Consuming avocados may help promote heart health and help to support blood pressure control.
It May Promote Digestive Health
The high fiber content in avocados may contribute to improving digestive health by improving bowel movements and preventing constipation. A diet high in fiber is often linked with a healthy digestive system. (22) Additionally, research has shown that avocados may improve gut health by working as a prebiotic, which promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines (23) (24)
Summary: Due to its high fiber content and other gut-related nutrients, avocado may help promote a healthy digestive system and prevent constipation.
Ways to Enjoy
How do you like to prepare your avocado? Below are some ways you may or may not have already tried before.
You can enjoy avocado in a wide array of ways and eaten any time of the day. In addition to your favorite avocado toast, here are some other ways to eat it:
- Avocado smoothies
- Sliced and added to tacos, omelets, burritos, quesadillas, basically anything!
- Used in baking for muffins, bread, cakes
- Added to salads and sandwiches like BLTs
- Avocado hummus
- Avocado soup
- Pesto & dressings
- Desserts such as avocado ice cream, brownies, chocolate mousse
As Avocado Oil
Have you ever used avocado oil? It is produced by pressing the pulp around the seed of the avocado. In it, you will find an oil packed full of healthy fats making it a good alternative to cook with. Additionally, it has a much higher smoke point than olive oil, meaning that it is stable at high heat.
Try adding avocado oil in other dishes such as salad dressing, smoothies, using it as a base for mayonnaise, and/or combining it with seasonings to add to vegetables and meats as a marinade.
As a Recipe Substitution
Avocado is a great substitute for a wide range of different recipes. Those who are vegan may choose to use avocado as a replacement for animal-based foods or if they just want to add some extra nutritional value to their recipes. Some of the most popular foods avocados are noted to be a great substitute for include butter, shortening, yogurt, eggs, and sour cream.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How Do I Know When My Avocados Are Ripe?
One of the easiest ways to tell if your avocados are ready to eat is by gently squeezing them with your hand. They should feel firm but have some give to them once you squeeze. Typically, the stem will still be on it. If so, you can remove the stem. If the underneath is green, then that means it is ripe. If you cannot easily remove the stem it may not be ripe and if it is brown underneath, then it may be overripe.
How Should I Store My Avocados?
Avocados are best stored at room temperature. They typically last about two days at room temperature when they are ripe. If you need them to last longer than that, you can place them in the fridge where they will last around 5 days. A more recent trend that you can try is to place an uncut avocado in an airtight container filled with water. This may help to keep your avocados lasting for longer than just a few days.
How Can I Keep My Avocados From Turning Brown?
Often once you cut an avocado, the leftover pulp on the inside will turn brown fairly quickly. However, this can be prevented! Use lemon or lime juice to sprinkle on the exposed part of the inside of the avocado and then wrap it with plastic wrap or place it in a plastic bag. This will prevent the avocado from oxidizing, which is where the brown color comes from. You can also put oil or water over the exposed area to prevent it from changing brown in color.
Did You Know?:Avocado is considered a fruit due to it containing one large seed and being grown from an avocado tree.
Health Risks of Avocados
Overall, avocados are typically a healthy addition to a balanced diet. However, there are some potential risks to keep in mind before you decide to start incorporating it more into your diet.
It Is a Less Common Allergen
Although it is not part of the 8 major food allergens identified by the FDA, some people do report an allergy to avocado. If you experience symptoms of allergy when consuming avocados such as itchy mouth, lips, throat, lip swelling, sneezing, nausea, or anaphylaxis, talk to a healthcare provider. People who have an allergy to latex may be more likely to be allergic to avocados.
Summary: Avocado is generally safe to eat, but some people may be more likely to have an allergy to it than others.
Avocados are generally a safe addition to most diets. Eating avocado is an easy way to get in a ton of fiber and other nutrients like healthy fats and potassium.
Not only are avocados delicious and creamy, but they have several health benefits. They may help promote weight loss, improve heart health, and better one’s digestive health.
If you aren’t already eating avocado on a daily basis, you may want to consider starting to. Talk to your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if you have any questions. Finally, enjoy your new favorite “fruit”!