Are Avocados Good For You?

They are nutrient-dense fruits that provide a range of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.

Yes, avocados are considered good for you and offer various health benefits. They are nutrient-dense fruits that provide a range of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. This includes improving digestion, lowering the risk of depression, preventing bone loss, supporting heart health, protecting against cancer, and more.

Also known as an alligator pear or butter fruit, avocados are actually a type of berry. They grow in warm climates. Avocados are packed with essential nutrients. They are a good source of dietary fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, folate, magnesium, and potassium[1].


Here is the nutrition breakdown for a 7-ounce (201-gram) avocado
  • Calories: 322
  • Fat: 30 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Carbs: 17 grams
  • Fiber: 14 grams
  • Vitamin C: 22% of the daily value (DV)
  • Vitamin E: 28% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 35% of the DV
  • Riboflavin (B2): 20% of the DV
  • Niacin (B3): 22% of the DV
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 56% of the DV
  • Pyridoxine (B6): 30% of the DV
  • Folate: 41% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 14% of the DV
  • Potassium: 21% of the DV
  • Copper: 42% of the DV
  • Manganese: 12% of the DV

Avocados are primarily grown in subtropical and tropical regions around the world. The trees thrive in areas with mild winters, warm summers, and well-drained soil. Avocado trees are propagated through grafting or budding methods to ensure desirable traits. The trees require well-drained soil and are typically planted in orchards.

Avocado cultivation is prominent in several countries
  • Mexico: Mexico is the largest producer of avocados globally, with the state of Michoacán being a major growing region.
  • California, United States: California is a significant producer of avocados, particularly the Hass variety, in regions such as San Diego, Ventura, and Riverside.
  • Peru: Peru is a major avocado producer, with regions like La Libertad and Lima being important cultivation areas.
  • Colombia: Colombia has a growing avocado industry, with regions like Antioquia and Risaralda known for avocado cultivation.
  • South Africa: Avocado production in South Africa is concentrated in regions such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Chile: Chile is known for its avocado production, with key regions including Valparaíso, O’Higgins, and Maule

They are sensitive to frost, so suitable climatic conditions are necessary. Avocado trees generally take several years to reach full maturity and start bearing fruit. Adequate irrigation, fertilization, and pest control measures are crucial for optimal growth and yield. Different avocado varieties are grown worldwide, including the popular Hass avocado. Other varieties include Fuerte, Bacon, Zutano, Reed, and Pinkerton, among others.

In the United States, California is the top producer of avocados and is home to more than 5,000 avocado farms, which generate over 400 million pounds of avocados each year

Each variety has its own characteristics in terms of taste, texture, and seasonality. Avocado harvesting is usually done by hand to ensure proper handling of the fruit. The time of harvest depends on the variety and local climatic conditions. The fruit is picked when it reaches maturity, but it continues to ripen off the tree.


Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid[2], which is beneficial for heart health. These fats help in reducing bad cholesterol levels and increasing good cholesterol levels, thereby promoting a healthy cardiovascular system. Avocados are high in fiber, which aids digestion and promotes a feeling of fullness. The fiber content also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promote gut health, and prevent constipation.

Half an avocado contains almost 5 grams of fiber, about 20 percent of the amount you need in a day. The one-two punch of fat and fiber makes avocados a particularly filling food. Avocados have more potassium than bananas.

Avocados contain antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin[3], which are essential for eye health and may help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Some nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning they require fat to be properly absorbed by the body. Including avocados in meals can enhance the absorption of these nutrients.

Despite being relatively high in calories, avocados can be beneficial for weight management due to their high fiber content and healthy fats, which help control appetite and provide satiety. Avocados contain various compounds, including phytosterols and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases related to inflammation.

Short-chain fatty acids provide health to the gut cells and gut lining. Many fiber-rich foods include prebiotic elements in them, like avocados. Therefore, consuming a variety of fiber-rich foods like avocados, berries and nuts, to name a few, work together with probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt to produce health benefits.

JeJe Noval, Ph.D., M.S., RDN

Yesterday, it was mashed avocado slathered on gluten-free toast, a runny egg, and a few dashes of Sriracha hot sauce. Today’s lunch? Cubed avocado on your spinach salad. So would guacamole with tonight’s tacos be overkill? Sure, you can’t technically “overdose” on avocado, is there ever too much? It’s important to note that while avocados are nutritious, they are also calorie-dense, so portion control is necessary if you’re watching your calorie intake. If you’re really watching your weight it’s probably wise to stick to about one-half to one whole avocado per day, assuming you are also eating other sources of healthy fats. Avocados are also a higher FODMAP[4] food, meaning they contain carbohydrates that may not be digested or absorbed well. So, those following a low-FODMAP diet or those with intestinal bacterial overgrowth will also want to stick to an eighth avocado serving, although there is no magic amount for everyone.



Footnotes
  1. Potassium is considered a “nutrient of public health concern” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is because it’s a mineral that Americans commonly do not consume enough of. In fact, a study that included data on 4,730 U.S. adults found that fewer than 3% had potassium intakes greater than the set adequate intake for potassium of 4,700 mg per day. Potassium is needed for several critical bodily functions, including blood pressure regulation and nervous system function. Getting the recommended amount of potassium on a daily basis may help protect against hypertension and stroke. [Back]
  2. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid and one of the primary components of the fatty acid composition of avocados, as well as other plant and animal sources. It is considered a healthy fat due to its potential positive effects on cardiovascular health. Research suggests that consuming oleic acid may help reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, and increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as “good” cholesterol. This can contribute to a healthier lipid profile and may lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, oleic acid exhibits anti-inflammatory properties and may have beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. While further research is needed to fully understand its mechanisms and effects, incorporating foods rich in oleic acid, such as avocados and olive oil, into a balanced diet can be a part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. [Back]
  3. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two important carotenoids that play a crucial role in promoting eye health. These natural pigments, found in various fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy greens, act as antioxidants and help protect the eyes from harmful blue light and oxidative damage. By accumulating in the macula, a region of the eye responsible for detailed vision, lutein and zeaxanthin contribute to the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. Their antioxidant properties make them valuable in reducing the risk of chronic eye conditions and maintaining overall ocular health. [Back]
  4. FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) are a group of short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. They can be found in a variety of foods, including certain fruits (such as apples and pears), vegetables (such as onions and garlic), dairy products, wheat, and legumes. For individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other digestive disorders, consuming high-FODMAP foods can trigger symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. A low-FODMAP diet, which restricts or limits the intake of these fermentable carbohydrates, is often recommended as a way to manage symptoms. However, it’s important to work with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to properly implement and customize the diet according to individual needs. [Back]

Further Reading

Sources
  • “Why is an Avocado good for you?” (January 3, 2023) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270406
  • “7 Potential Health Benefits of Avocado” (June 29, 2022) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/avocado-nutrition
  • “Avocado” (August 08, 2022) https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/all-about-avocados
  • “What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Avocado Every Day” (January 22, 2023) https://www.eatingwell.com/article/8026117/avocados-benefits/
  • “Avocados: Good or Bad? The Good, the Bad & the Unsaturated” (2023) https://healthysd.gov/avocados-good-or-bad/
  • Crane, J. H., & Balerdi, C. F. (2020). Avocado growing in the Florida home landscape. The University of Florida IFAS Extension.
  • Bergh, B. O. (2017). The Avocado: Botany, Production, and Uses (2nd ed.). CABI.
  • Schaffer, B., Whiley, A. W., & Wolstenholme, B. N. (2013). The avocado: botany, production, and uses. CABI.
  • López-García, A., Brenes-Peralta, L., & Chacón-Solano, C. (2019). The Avocado in Colombia. In G. W. Zemel (Ed.), The Avocado: Botany, Production, and Uses (pp. 267-280). CABI.
  • Ruales, J., & Nair, B. M. (2017). Nutritional quality, health benefits, and culinary uses of avocado (Persea americana Mill.). Food Reviews International, 33(4), 357-377.
  • “Are Avocados Good for You? Plus, the right way to store them so they stay fresh” (May 4, 2021) https://www.consumerreports.org/nutrition-healthy-eating/are-avocados-good-for-you-a2536502660/
  • “An avocado a day is good for your heart health” (January 15, 2021) https://utswmed.org/medblog/avocado-a-day/
  • “5 Health Benefits of Avocados” (January 3, 2023) https://www.health.com/nutrition/avocado-health-benefits
  • “10 unsung health benefits of avocado” (2023) https://www.taste.com.au/galleries/10-unsung-health-benefits-avocado/d0wto07u?page=3
  • Casas-Agustench, P., López-Uriarte, P., Bulló, M., Ros, E., & Salas-Salvadó, J. (2011). Nuts, inflammation and insulin resistance. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 20(4), 555-562.
  • De Souza, R. J., Mente, A., Maroleanu, A., Cozma, A. I., Ha, V., Kishibe, T., … & Anand, S. S. (2015). Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. BMJ, 351, h3978.
  • Kris-Etherton, P. M., Pearson, T. A., Wan, Y., Hargrove, R. L., Moriarty, K., Fishell, V., … & Etherton, T. D. (1999). High-monounsaturated fatty acid diets lower both plasma cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70(6), 1009-1015.
  • Paniagua, J. A., Pérez-Martinez, P., Gjelstad, I. M. F., Tierney, A. C., Delgado-Lista, J., Defoort, C., … & Roche, H. M. (2011). A low-fat high-carbohydrate diet supplemented with long-chain n-3 PUFA reduces the risk of the metabolic syndrome. Atherosclerosis, 218(2), 443-450.
  • Schwingshackl, L., Strasser, B., & Hoffmann, G. (2014). Effects of monounsaturated fatty acids on cardiovascular risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 64(4), 177-190.
  • Can You Eat Too Much Avocado? The answer from a functional medicine dietitian (August 7, 2018) https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-you-eat-too-much-avocado/
  • “The #1 Reason Why You Shouldn’t Eat Avocado” (March 24, 2021) https://www.eatthis.com/news-reason-to-avoid-eating-avocado/
  • Dreher, M. L., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 53(7), 738-750.
  • Wien, M., Haddad, E., Oda, K., & Sabaté, J. (2013). A randomized 3× 3 crossover study to evaluate the effect of Hass avocado intake on post-ingestive satiety, glucose and insulin levels, and subsequent energy intake in overweight adults. Nutrition journal, 12(1), 1-8.
  • Fulgoni, V. L., Dreher, M., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2008. Nutrition journal, 12(1), 1-9.
  • Wang, L., Bordi, P. L., Fleming, J. A., & Hill, A. M. (2015). An evidence-based approach for choosing post-exercise recovery techniques to reduce markers of muscle damage, soreness, fatigue, and inflammation: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Frontiers in physiology, 6, 1-20.
  • Ma, L., Liu, R., Du, J. H., & Liu, T. (2012). Lutein and zeaxanthin intake and the risk of age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Nutrition, 107(3), 350-359.
  • SanGiovanni, J. P., & Chew, E. Y. (2005). The role of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in health and disease of the retina. Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, 24(1), 87-138.
  • Vishwanathan, R., Neuringer, M., Snodderly, D. M., & Schalch, W. (2013). Lutein and zeaxanthin lower serum concentrations of CRP, IL-8, and MCP-1 in healthy women. Journal of Nutrition, 143(6), 864-867.
  • Wu, J., Cho, E., Willett, W. C., Sastry, S. M., Schaumberg, D. A., & Stampfer, M. J. (2015). Intakes of lutein, zeaxanthin, and other carotenoids and age-related macular degeneration during 2 decades of prospective follow-up. JAMA Ophthalmology, 133(12), 1415-1424.
  • Zhao, D., & Kim, M. H. (2020). Dietary carotenoids and age-related macular degeneration. Nutrients, 12(7), 1981.

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: