Avocados: Nutrition, Benefits, and Ways to Use Them
By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD
Whether you’ve had them on toast, in guacamole, or on a burrito bowl, chances are you’ve enjoyed an avocado or two. This mighty fruit is popping up everywhere, and its nutrition matches its hype!
Avocados are rich in healthy unsaturated fatty acids and fiber that promote heart health, and contain a variety of micronutrients, including vitamin C and potassium. What’s more, they’re versatile and delicious, and can be a satiating addition to all sorts of meals.
Nutrition of Avocados
There are several different varieties of avocados, including the popular Hass avocado that has black skin and light green flesh. One Hass avocado has approximately (1):
Protein: 3 grams
Fat: 20 grams
Saturated fat: 3 grams
Monounsaturated fat: 13 grams
Polyunsaturated fat: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 12 grams
Fiber: 9 grams
Vitamin B-6: 20% of the DV
Vitamin C: 20% of the DV
Vitamin K: 36% of the DV
Folate: 30% of the DV
Potassium: 15% of the DV
Magnesium: 10% of the DV
Benefits of Avocados
Avocados are rich in nutrients that are particularly beneficial for heart health. For example, they are high in potassium and magnesium, two minerals that are vital for maintaining healthy blood pressure (2).
What’s more, the fat in avocados is mostly composed of heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. Several studies have shown that the fatty acids in avocados, especially oleic acid, may fight inflammation in the body, improve vascular function, and help lower cholesterol (3, 4, 5).
In addition to their heart health benefits, avocados contain nutrients that are important for eye health. They are rich in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that promote optimal eye function and may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration (6).
Finally, since avocados are so high in healthy fats, adding them to meals can help improve absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and other nutrients. One study found that adding avocado to salsa helped increase the absorption of carotenoids, plant compounds that act as antioxidants in the body (7).
Ways to Prepare and Eat Avocados
Since avocados are mostly made of healthy fat and are also loaded with fiber, they are very satisfying. Adding them to meals may help you eat fewer calories overall and reach your weight loss goals.
To prepare an avocado, use a knife to slice the fruit in half lengthwise. Then remove the pit and scoop out the flesh. Here are a few ways to enjoy avocado:
Add it to a slice of whole grain toast with a fried or hard-boiled egg for a balanced breakfast
Mix it with red onion, tomatoes, and lime juice to make guacamole (enjoy with carrot sticks!)
Blend it with lemon juice and garlic for a sandwich spread
Add it to smoothies with spinach and frozen fruit
No matter how you enjoy avocado, you’ll be reaping some major health benefits!
Note from Healthy For Life Meals: We incorporate avocados in many of our recipes, including our Southwest Burrito Bowl and Market Salad. Get started with one of our plans today, and enjoy the many benefits of eating nutritious, whole foods!