Some nutrition experts call the avocado a superfood. This flavorful fruit provides health benefits, such as cholesterol and blood sugar management, because it is a good source of fiber. But when you look at avocado nutrition, you might be surprised.
Not only are avocado calories high, but most of the calories come from fat. So should you include this fruit in a healthy, balanced diet? Many people do, but if you’re watching your calorie and fat intake, you may decide to consume avocados in moderation.
Avocado Nutrition Facts
One-half of an avocado (100g) provides 160 calories, 2g of protein, 8.5g of carbohydrates, and 14.7g of fat. Avocados are an excellent nutritional source of magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. The following nutrition information is for half of an avocado and is provided by the USDA.
- Calories: 160
- Fat: 14.7g
- Sodium: 7mg
- Carbohydrates: 8.5g
- Fiber: 6.7g
- Sugars: 0.7g
- Protein: 2g
- Magnesium: 29mg
- Potassium: 485mg
- Vitamin C: 10mg
- Vitamin E: 2.1mg
- Vitamin K: 21mcg
Most of the carbohydrates in an avocado come from fiber. A whole avocado provides about 17 grams of carbohydrate and 13.4 grams of fiber. There is very little sugar in an avocado (less than one gram) and the rest of the carbohydrate in the fruit comes from starch.
The glycemic index for avocado is estimated to be around zero, making it a low-glycemic food.
A whole avocado provides roughly 30 grams of fat, 4.2 grams of saturated fat, almost 20 grams of monounsaturated fat, and 3.6 grams of polyunsaturated fat. So, while most of the calories in an avocado come from fat, they are mostly in the form of healthier monounsaturated fat.
Monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFAs come from plant sources and may be helpful in lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol. For this reason, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that choosing foods with monounsaturated fats instead of saturated fat.
Half an avocado provides about 2 grams of protein. While it’s not a high-protein food, it can still help you meet your desired protein intake.
Vitamins and Minerals
If you consume a few slices of avocado, it won’t provide substantial vitamins or minerals because the serving size is so small. But a whole avocado is a good source of vitamins K, E, and C.
Avocado also contains folate, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. Minerals in avocado include magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, and magnesium.
The number of calories in an avocado will depend on its size. The avocado nutrition facts shown are for half of a medium-sized avocado, but many avocados are smaller and some can be much larger (up to 300 grams or more).
According to the USDA Nutrient Database, there are 322 calories in a larger (200 gram) avocado. In general, an average avocado ranges from 200 to 300 calories, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
If you spread a thin layer of avocado on your sandwich or add a small amount to your healthy taco, you are probably consuming roughly 30 grams or about two tablespoons of fruit.
Avocados are high in fat, but it’s healthier, monounsaturated fat. They also provide fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals with very little sugar.
Avocados have been studied extensively, in part, because the Hass Avocado Board funds much of the research. For this reason, it can be tricky to discern whether it is avocados specifically that provide the benefit that is studied. That said, here are a few studies and what they’ve found.
May Aid in Diabetes Management
Avocados may provide benefits for people with diabetes. Although they have carbohydrates, their low glycemic index rating of almost zero means that they have little effect on blood sugar. The glycemic index is a scale from 1 to 100, with high numbers indicating foods that raise your blood sugar faster.
That means avocados are a healthy choice for those with diabetes, especially when they replace higher-glycemic foods. Some studies have shown that avocado consumption improved glycemic control in subjects with type 2 diabetes.
In addition, there is considerable evidence to suggest that high-MUFA diets can also improve metabolic health among people with type 2 diabetes.
May Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risk
Several studies have shown that avocado consumption may improve cholesterol levels in some people. Specifically, research has suggested that those who eat avocados have higher levels of HDL cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Seed Extract May Help Prevent Cancer
A 2019 review notes that the avocado seed extract appears to help protect against cancer thanks to being richer in sterol compounds than the rest of the fruit. However, it is unclear whether it is safe to eat the seed. So, even avocado growers don’t recommend it.
May Lower Metabolic Syndrome Risk
After looking at the results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers concluded that avocado consumption was associated with lower metabolic syndrome risk. They also noted a connection between eating avocados and better overall diet quality.
May Promote Weight Loss
Though avocados are high in calories, they still may provide benefits if you are trying to lose weight. The creamy texture and savory taste that comes from (healthy) fat can help you to feel full and satisfied at mealtime. Avocados also provide fiber. Eating foods with fiber can promote satiety.
Studies have shown an association between avocado consumption and lower body weight, lower body mass index (BMI), and decreased waist circumference. A few limited studies have also found that avocados are good for weight loss and regular consumption of avocados may be able to reduce your risk of becoming overweight.
While avocado allergy is rare, research indicates a possible increase in cases of food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES)—a non-IgE mediated allergy that impacts the gastrointestinal tract—with avocado being one potential trigger.
People with oral allergy syndrome, also called pollen-food sensitivity syndrome, may also experience an allergic reaction when eating avocado. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, oral allergy syndrome is rarely associated with symptoms beyond the oral cavity, such as hives, breathing difficulty, or anaphylaxis.
Avocados may decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin). If you are taking this medication, check with your healthcare provider for a personalized recommendation.
Many people are familiar with Hass avocados, commonly found at the grocery store. Hass avocados make up 95% of all the avocados eaten in the USA. This variety has skin with a dark, pebbly texture. But there are other varieties as well.
Other varieties include Pinkerton, Reed, Zutano, Bacon, Fuerte, and Gwen. Some of these are larger than the Hass and may have thinner, brighter skin. There are 56 types of avocado that come from Florida alone.
When It’s Best
The avocado tree has a long harvest season that sometimes overlaps from one year to the next, so the fruit can be found in most grocery stores year-round. Avocado doesn’t begin to ripen until it is picked from the tree.
Storage and Food Safety
When choosing an avocado, use both color and feel to find the best fruit. First, select an avocado with a dark but consistent color. Take it in the palm of your hand and gently squeeze it. If it yields slightly, it is ripe and ready to use.
In general, you can store ripe, uncut avocados in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. If you eat your avocado just a tablespoon at a time, add lime or lemon juice to keep it from browning.
To ripen an unripe avocado quickly, place it in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana for 2 to 3 days. You can also freeze an avocado, but it may change the texture of the fruit.
How to Prepare
The hardest part of cooking with avocado can be removing the skin. Use these tips to peel your fruit.
- Start at the top of the avocado and slice it lengthwise from the top to the bottom, then twist it to pull the two halves apart.
- To remove the pit, stick the knife into it and twist it out, then discard it. This should result in two halves with the meat of the avocado unmangled.
- Score the avocado in rows, up and down, and then side to side to make a grid. Now you can scoop out these cubes with a spoon and discard the peel.
- Your avocado cubes are now ready to use.
Sliced avocado is a great addition to a healthy sandwich or wrap. It provides a creamy texture and allows you to eliminate the butter or mayo. Many people also add avocado to an omelet, on the side of scrambled eggs, or as an avocado and egg toast sandwich.