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HCA Midwest Health

Health benefits of eating avocado

Avocado has become wildly popular in recent years, and for good reason. Learn about the health benefits of eating avocado.

Tayla Holman
July 03, 2024
Woman holding a bowl of salad with sliced avocado on one side.
Once considered a luxury item, avocado consumption has increased sixfold since the 1980s.

Once considered a luxury item, the avocado has become one of America's favorite foods in the past few decades. Since 1985, U.S. avocado consumption has increased sixfold, from a modest 436 million pounds a year to a whopping 2.7 billion pounds in 2022. Not only that — there's even a day dedicated to the popular green fruit. Whether we eat it as guacamole or on toast, we can't seem to get enough of it. But are the benefits of eating avocado worth the hype?

What is 'good' fat?

Fat gets a bad reputation when it comes to diet, but not all fats are unhealthy. Avocado became popular as a health food because of its reputation for containing good fat. Its monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered good fats because they lower the risk of disease. These fats can lower levels of LDL (or "bad") cholesterol, which can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. Saturated fat, on the other hand, can raise LDL cholesterol.

A single avocado has 20 to 30 grams of fat, and according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, total fat should make up only 20% to 35% of daily calories. Saturated fat should be limited to no more than 10%.

What other nutrients does avocado have?

Besides unsaturated fats, avocado is high in fiber and vitamins C, E and K. One 7-ounce (201-gram) avocado provides 41% of the daily value (DV) of folate, which helps produce healthy red blood cells. It also provides 14% of the DV of magnesium, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Despite magnesium being essential for our health, most of us aren't getting enough of it, so avocado is one food that can help fill the gap.

One 7-ounce avocado also provides the following nutrients:

  • Riboflavin (B2): 20% of DV — Riboflavin helps in red blood cell production and is crucial for growth. It also helps fight free radicals that can damage the body.
  • Niacin (B3): 22% of DV — Your body uses niacin to turn food into energy. Niacin also keeps the nervous and digestive systems healthy.
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 56% of DV — Pantothenic acid helps turn food into energy. It also helps your body make and break down fats.
  • Potassium: 21% of DV — Potassium is essential for all your body's functions. It helps control blood pressure and moves nutrients into cells, and is important for proper kidney and heart function.
  • Copper: 42% of DV — Copper helps your body make energy, connective tissues and blood vessels. It's also important for maintaining the immune and nervous systems.

What are the health benefits of eating avocado?

With its more than 20 vitamins and minerals, avocado is considered a superfood. By including avocado in your diet, you can experience the following benefits:

Manage body weight

Avocado's high fiber content helps you feel fuller longer, which can be beneficial for managing body weight. Fiber takes longer to digest than other nutrients, so you won't need to eat as much to feel satiated. Additionally, fiber contributes to a healthy digestive system, promoting the growth of healthy bacteria.

Lower cholesterol and risk of heart disease

In addition to lowering LDL cholesterol, avocado can actually raise HDL or "good" cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps you get rid of extra cholesterol, bringing it to the liver to be eliminated as waste. This helps lower your risk of heart disease and reduces plaque buildup on the artery walls. A 2022 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that eating two or more servings of avocado a week was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Control blood sugar and reduce belly fat

For people who have Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance, avocado can be a perfect dietary addition. It won't cause blood sugar spikes and can stop insulin levels from rising after a meal. Daily avocado consumption can also help redistribute fat. One study found that women who ate avocados daily reduced their visceral belly fat over the course of 12 weeks. Visceral fat raises the risk of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.

Improve brain and eye function

Another health benefit of avocado is that it increases brain function and eye health. Avocado contains lutein, an organic pigment called a carotenoid. Although lutein is commonly considered an eye vitamin, it is also important for cognitive function and performance.

How to get more avocado in your diet

If you want to start eating more avocado, there are plenty of ways to do so.

  • You can eat it by itself or lightly season it with a pinch of salt and pepper or squeeze of lemon.
  • Try adding it to salads — either as an ingredient or in a dressing — or to your morning smoothies.
  • Make a heart-healthy guacamole recipe to eat as a snack or as a topping for sandwiches and burgers.
  • Use it in your favorite baked goods recipes as a substitute for butter.

You can also use avocado as a nondairy substitute or replacement for saturated fats, such as animal products and oil. Mash or purée an avocado to achieve a creamy texture and use it as a binding agent in recipes that call for milk, cream, butter, eggs or sour cream.

Avocado's nutritional profile, versatility and health benefits have helped solidify its status as a superfood. Making avocado a regular part of your diet can help you manage your weight, lower your risk of heart disease and so much more.

Published:
July 03, 2024