Over the past several decades, avocados have acquired superfood status among health and fitness enthusiasts because they’re jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and other good-for-you nutrients. However, because they’re high in fat and calories, some people worry that avocadoes may not be as healthy as they’re made out to be.
Even though avocados are high in calories, that doesn’t mean you should cut them from your diet. In fact, avocados offer a number of benefits, such as promoting heart health, improving digestion, and providing a variety of nutrients and protective plant compounds.
Here’s more about the nutritional content of avocado and how this nutritious fruit can fit into a healthy diet.
Unlike other fruits such as berries, apples, and oranges, avocados are high in calories. Because of this, the recommended serving size is just one-third (50 grams) of a medium-sized avocado. This serving size is about 80 calories.
However, many people consume much more than this. According to some research, the average person consumes about 76 grams or 60% of an avocado per day, which is about 120 calories. An entire avocado (201 grams) contains about 322 calories.
Although avocados are considered a high-calorie food, it doesn’t mean they’re “bad” for you. Avocados are rich in nutrients like fiber, folate, and heart-healthy fats, all of which play important roles in keeping your body healthy.
Here is the nutritional information for one serving, (one-third of a medium, standard-sized avocado):
- Fat: 7.3 grams
- Saturated Fat: 1 gram
- Monounsaturated Fat: 4.9 grams
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.9 grams
- Carbohydrates: 4.3 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fiber: 3.3 grams
- Sodium: 3.5 milligrams
- Pantothenic acid (B5): 14% of the daily value (DV)
- Folate: 10% of the DV
- Copper: 11% of the DV
Most of the fat in avocado is in the form of monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are a healthy type of fat that can help increase HDL (aka good cholesterol). HDL protects your heart by removing excess cholesterol from the arteries and carrying it to the liver where it can be recycled or excreted from the body. Swapping foods high in saturated fat, like butter, with those high in monounsaturated fats, like avocados, may help reduce heart disease risk factors like high LDL cholesterol. LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol because having high levels is linked to increased heart disease risk.
The healthy fat in avocado can help maximize the absorption of compounds called carotenoids, which are found in foods that avocado is commonly served with, like salsa and salads. Carotenoids are plant pigments that have strong antioxidant properties and may help protect against cellular damage. The fat can also help convert carotenoids to an active form of vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is needed for immune function, vision, and more.
Avocados also have a high fiber content, which supports healthy digestion and may help prevent constipation.
What’s more, avocados are a good source of several important vitamins and minerals.
Avocados provide vitamins C, E, and K, as well as folate, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and niacin. They’re also a source of minerals like zinc, magnesium, and potassium.
One-third (50 grams) of a medium avocado provides around 10% of the DV for folate, a B vitamin that’s required for healthy cell growth. Studies suggest many pregnant people fall short of meeting their daily folate needs despite it being essential for fetal growth and development.
The same serving size also delivers 10% or more of the DV for copper, vitamin K, and pantothenic acid, all of which play important roles in health.
Although avocados are incredibly nutritious, it’s still important to be mindful of your portion sizes. For example, one avocado (201 grams) contains around 322 calories. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, this is roughly 10-20-% of most people’s daily calorie needs.
While the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend no more than 10% of total calories from saturated fat, the restriction on the amount of daily calories from fat has been removed. Fat isn’t something you should fear because it provides energy, protects our organs, and supports cell function.
Even though avocados are high in total fat, they’re low in saturated fat and high in fiber, making them an overall healthy choice.
However, because avocados are high in fat, they’re also high in calories. Therefore, eating too many avocados per day can lead to unwanted weight gain.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation when it comes to daily avocado consumption, in-general, it’s best to limit your intake to less than one avocado per day in order to make room for other sources of healthy fat and to help you maintain a healthy weight.
Based on a 2,000-calorie diet, one serving (50 grams) of avocado would contribute 80 calories, or 4% of total calories, and provide 7% of the DV for fat. The current daily value for fat is set at 78 grams.
Keep in mind that everyone has different nutrient needs and some people may require more or less calories and fat than others. If you’re unsure of how many calories and how much fat you should have on a daily basis, ask a trusted healthcare provider like a registered dietitian for advice.
Because they’re high in healthy fats, and fiber, avocados are considered to be heart-healthy. One recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that eating two or more servings of avocado per week was associated with a 16% lower risk of heart disease.
Other benefits of eating avocados include:11
- Improved absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
- Weight management
- Healthy aging
- Improved nutrient intake
- Regular bowel movements
Even though avocados are high in fat and calories, they offer a variety of health benefits and can make a nutritious addition to your diet. Avocados are chock-full of health-boosting nutrients such as fiber, heart-protective fats, vitamins, and minerals. Try adding avocado to your diet by enjoying it sliced with a bit of salt and pepper or making classic guacamole by mashing avocado and adding diced onion and tomato, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. You can also enjoy avocado on toast or add it to smoothies, egg salad, and tuna salad to provide a creamy texture.
Although rare, some people are allergic to avocados. If you’re allergic to avocados, it’s important to avoid avocados and avocado-containing dishes.
The bottom line: Avocados are a healthy fat-filled superfood, but they’re just one part of a nutrient-dense diet. That said, you’d be hard-pressed to find a nutritionist who’s more concerned with your avocado intake than with your consumption of foods high in saturated fat.
Sorry bacon, but we’re going to keep on gauc-ing on.