Health Benefits of Avocado

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Health Benefits of Avocado

Food trends are constantly changing, but thanks to the health benefits of avocado, the fruit has been in the spotlight for quite some time now. Its fame is partially due to its deliciously creamy, nutty taste—and, of course, how photogenic it is when spread atop toast. But we also need to give credit where credit is due: There are tons of nutrients packed into each and every avocado.

Avocados are one of the only fruits that contain healthy, monounsaturated fats, Lori Zanini, R.D., a California-based dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells SELF. “Including healthy fats in our meals during our day is important in order to keep us full and satisfied after meals, since fats take longer to digest than carbohydrates or proteins,” Zanini says. The majority of the fats in avocado are monounsaturated, which are lauded for having anti-inflammatory benefits and for helping to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Some research also shows that healthy fat can positively impact insulin levels and blood sugar and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. “Additionally, avocados are naturally sodium and cholesterol free,” Zanini adds.

Smash it on toast, spread it on a sandwich, or slice it on top of eggs or salad. The possibilities really are endless. Just be sure not to go overboard (we know, hard to do)—because of their fat content, avocados are pretty high in calories, so too much of a good thing can backfire here. Zanini recommends sticking to 1-ounce servings, “which is about 2 to 3 slices or about 1/4 of a small avocado.”

Avocados are also full of vitamins and nutrients our bodies need to function properly. Here’s what’s packed under that hard green skin and some of the ways each one benefits your health:

Vitamin K

Promotes normal blood clotting and prevents and treats weak bones.

Vitamin C

Contributes to cell growth and repair—from your skin to your nerves. It’s also an antioxidant, which protects the body from damage by harmful intruders (called free radicals) that cause health issues like heart disease and cancer.

Vitamin B6

Promotes healthy immune function, nerve function, and formation of red blood cells.

Vitamin E

Helps the body make red blood cells and boost immune function. It’s also an antioxidant, and essential for hair and skin health.

Folate

Promotes healthy cell and tissue development. It’s also essential for proper brain and spine growth in a developing fetus, so is especially important for pregnant women (it’s actually recommended that all women of reproductive age take a folate supplement). Zanini says it’s also important for preventing one type of anemia.

Magnesium

Important for muscle and nerve function, and also supports immune health and bone strength, regulates blood sugar, and helps with energy production. For those who suffer from migraines, getting more magnesium can be an effective way to prevent them (doctors will probably suggest a supplement rather than food sources, but getting more in your diet is good, too).

Potassium

An electrolyte that helps maintain a normal fluid balance in our bodies, aids nerve and muscle function, protein synthesis (building muscle), and keeps the heart beating normally. Bonus: It’s also great for reducing bloat.

Fiber

It keeps you regular, promotes colon health, lowers cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar (which helps control appetite and keep you fuller for longer), and is helpful in maintaining a healthy body weight. Like many fruits, avocadoes have both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Lutein

This carotenoid—the name for a variety of plant pigments that give produce red, orange, and yellow coloring—is great for eye health. Research shows it may help protect against eye disease, partly because it absorbs damaging blue light. Lutein is also an antioxidant.

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  • Michelle

    Good article. But they talked highly of the fat but then they were like…But only eat 2-3 slices bc of the calories of fat! That doesn’t make any sense to me. I have learned over the years with my diet experiments that fat does not make you fat but it is the sugar that is so harmful (in many ways besides weight) and will make you pack on the pounds.

    • Ynone

      This is so true! They demonized fat so much, while putting sugar in everything! Sugar is really what’s killing us.

      • Tameka

        Good to lol, I have been fearing fat over here

  • Tina

    I’ve learned its all about calories that’s what determines if you gain or lose weight . And of course healthier calories are better than empty calories.

    • Roger Johnson

      Yep I find that I don’t have to take on nearly as many calories if I eat strategically. Moderation but high protein and healthy fats with minimum carbs works for me. Lots of grains (oatmeal), seeds (quinoa amaranth), nuts (pecans walnuts).

  • Lauren

    We do have to have fat in our diets to absorb vitamins A, D, E, & K. Limiting fats compared to the average American diet with lots of fried foods, full fat cheese and fatty meats is what health professionals generally speak of with low fat diets. Poly- and monounsaturated fats (PUFAS and MUFAS) are good for creating healthier lipids in our bodies. We benefit from lowering LDL and raising HDL. PUFAS and MUFAS help do both. Just remember moderation with any fats – even the healthy ones.

  • Roger Johnson

    I cycle. I realized one day that my potassium levels had been reached (I track on MFP). I look to see what could have done that lo and behold the avocado! I now eat one along with a protein drink after cycling. It helps replace nutrients especially potassium I lose during the ride. It helps to stop the cravings for the carb gorge at the end of 20 or 30 miles.