June 20, 2024
<p>Miniseries / Getty Images</p> Preparing ripe avocado

Miniseries / Getty Images

Preparing ripe avocado

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Barnes, RDN

Avocado is the berrylike fruit of the avocado tree.

A beloved food throughout the United States and beyond, avocados are enjoyed in various preparations and cuisines.

Avocados also contain many nutrients, including folate, copper, vitamin K, potassium, and vitamin B5.

They also are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as fiber.

Read on for avocado’s researched health benefits and nutrition profile.

Avocado Facts

  • Scientific Name: Persea americana

  • Alternate Names(s): Alligator pear

  • Location(s) Found: Fruiting tree grown throughout the Americas, India, and Africa.

  • Safety Considerations: Avoid eating if allergic to avocado or are diagnosed with kidney disease

What Is Avocado?

Avocado is the fruit of the avocado tree (Persea americana), native to Mexico and Central America.

Avocado trees belong to the family Lauraceae, or laurels, which includes bay leaf and cinnamon. The avocado fruit can range from bright green to dark purple, and its inner flesh is greenish-yellow.

Biologically, the avocado fruit is considered a berry, which ripens off the tree through its production of ethylene gas—a process similar to the ripening of bananas.

Avocados contain one large pit that’s typically discarded before eating or sometimes used to grow other avocado trees.

Hass avocados make up at least 90% of the avocados consumed in the United States, as well as most of the avocados eaten worldwide.

Hass avocados have a creamy and smooth texture when ripe and are rich in oleic acid, fiber, micronutrients, and phytochemicals.

The studies and benefits explored below are about Hass avocados.

What Are the Benefits of Avocado?

There are several researched health benefits of consuming Hass avocados.

<p>Miniseries / Getty Images</p> Preparing ripe avocado

Miniseries / Getty Images

Preparing ripe avocado

Decreased Inflammation

In one study, participants ate one avocado per day vs. an equivalent serving of a control food.

After 12 weeks, those in the avocado group were found to have significantly lower circulating levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) than those who consumed the control food.

CRP is a well-researched marker of overall bodily inflammation.

There appears to be an association between eating avocados along with foods low in low carbohydrates and lower levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF).

TNF is an immune system regulator. However, in some people with specific conditions, it can create too much inflammation in the body.

Improved Cardiac Health

A meta-analysis found that when substituted for other fat sources or added to an existing diet.

Avocados have a moderately beneficial effect on lowering participants’ low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels (considered bad cholesterol).

Other studies have shown that replacing a portion of total daily carbohydrate intake with a whole or half avocado improved several measures of cardiovascular inflammation, including:

  • Blood flow

  • Total triglycerides

  • Total cholesterol

Improved Cognition

One study has shown that eating half a medium avocado for 12 weeks improved attention levels in adults.

Eating an avocado every day also increased circulating blood levels of lutein.

Increased levels of lutein are associated with:

  • Improved vision

  • Cognitive flexibility

  • Visual memory

  • Overall cognitive health

Improved Gut Microbiome

A study found that daily avocado consumption of about one whole, medium avocado per day improved the gut microbiome of the study participants.

Notably, the study found that avocado consumption resulted in greater production of single-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).

SCFAs have many known health benefits and may aid in regulating important mood-altering neurotransmitters.

Nutrition

The flesh of the avocado is nutritionally dense, with a variety of macro and micronutrients. Average consumption is about half an avocado (about 68 grams).

However, one-third of a medium Hass avocado (50 grams) is the official single serving.

The following nutrition information is found in a single serving of avocado.

Avocado Nutrition Facts

Macronutrient Breakdown

  • 80 calories

  • 1 g protein

  • 4 g total carbohydrate

  • 3.4 g fiber (11% Daily Value)

  • 0g cholesterol

  • 1 g of saturated fat (5% DV)

  • 4.9 g monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA)

  • 1 g polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)

Micronutrient Breakdown

Avocados are particularly rich in a monounsaturated fatty acid known as oleic acid.

Oleic acid is also commonly found in olives and is believed to reduce adult cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Avocados are also an excellent source of prebiotic fiber and soluble fiber.

Prebiotic fibers have been shown to aid digestion, improve immune and cognitive function, and even lower cholesterol.

How Do You Prepare Avocado?

The cut flesh of the avocado fruit is popular on its own or as part of a meal, sandwich, or salad.

It is also a significant part of guacamole and can even be used in desserts.

There are many recipes and various creative preparations.

Avocado has high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Research has shown that avocado enhances carotenoid absorption from leafy green vegetables and salsa due to these good fats.

This makes avocado an excellent addition to salads and other vegetable dishes.

Avocados will ripen after being picked. They are considered ripe when they appear dark green and yield to light pressure when held.

Are There Any Risks of Eating Avocado?

Studies have shown little to no risks associated with eating avocado. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Avoid avocados if either of these apply:

  • Allergy: It is also not advisable to consume avocado if you have an avocado allergy, birch pollen allergy, and/or a latex allergy.

  • Kidney disease: Eating avocado or other high-potassium foods is not advised in those diagnosed with kidney disease.

Summary

Native to Mexico and Central America, avocados are now a widely available and versatile food that can be a delicious addition to salads, sandwiches, soups, and even desserts.

The ripened fruit contains many nutrient-dense components, including folate, copper, vitamin K, potassium, and vitamin B5.

Avocados are also high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and fiber.

Eating avocados regularly has a variety of health benefits, including:

  • Reduced markers of inflammation

  • Increased cardiovascular health

  • Increased cognitive function

  • Improvement to the gut microbiome

Consider adding avocado to your healthful eating routine. And reach out to a registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN) for any questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is avocado a fruit?

The avocado is considered a fruit of the avocado tree. It is best classified as a berry and ripens further after being picked, similar to other berries. The classification of avocado as a fruit is due purely to its botanic classification and not its relative sweetness or sugar content.

How many calories are in an avocado?

The calories in an avocado vary based on size, weight, and proportion of seed to flesh (the seed is inedible). Each avocado will vary slightly in terms of its flesh yield and caloric density. However, studies have found that a medium-size avocado contains approximately 227 calories.

Are avocados good for you?

Regularly consuming avocado has a variety of health benefits, including reduced markers of inflammation, increased cardiovascular health, increased cognitive function, and improvement to the gut microbiome.

These benefits are believed to be due to the avocado’s high levels of micronutrients, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and fiber.

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