Sure, avocados can be seen gracing the packaging of moisturizers and shampoos. But while those mushy green facials are awfully tempting, this tasty little fruit goes more than skin deep.
And guacamole is just the beginning…
The avocado’s good reputation is well-deserved. The fruits (yes, they’re technically fruits, not veggies) are loaded with healthy fats, fiber, and micronutrients.
All those nutritional components aren’t there for nothing — they promote your health in a variety of ways. Research has linked avo intake to everything from cholesterol management to boosting your microbiome.
We’ve rounded up a list of allll the good reasons to get your guac on (like you needed extra motivation to keep dipping).
Although you might feel like eating a whole avocado in one sitting, a common serving size is a more modest 50 grams, or about one-third of a medium avocado.
Here’s what you can expect for nutrition in a 50-gram serving:
|Protein||1 gram (g)|
|Sodium||3.5 milligrams (mg)|
|Folate||10% daily value (DV)|
|Vitamin C||6% DV|
|Vitamin E||7% DV|
|Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)||8% DV|
Your favorite green fruits are a major source of monounsaturated fat — yep, that’s a good-for-you fat. A whopping 5 out of the 7.5 grams in a 50-gram serving come from this fat that’s liquid at room temp. (Hence avocados’ moisture-rich texture.)
Not only does monounsaturated fat help keep you nice and full between meals, it’s a bosom buddy to your heart.
For decades now, research has shown that the monounsaturated fat in avocados boosts heart health by reducing levels of total blood cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (aka the “bad” kind).
In fact, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), for cardiovascular health, the majority of the fats we eat should be unsaturated.
Another bonus of avos’ fat content: It helps your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Pair an avocado dip with carrots, for example, and you’ll soak up more vitamin A. Or nestle some avo slices in a wrap with green leafy veggies to boost vitamin K absorption.
You may not be able to see it with your eyes, but there’s a veritable micronutrient party going on inside an avocado.
For one thing, your average avocado contains more potassium than a banana, at 728 milligrams in an 150-gram avo versus 451 milligrams in a 126-gram banana. (Sorry, bananas. We still love you.)
Getting enough potassium can keep blood pressure in check and helps prevent kidney stones.
Meanwhile, vitamin E packs an antioxidant punch, protecting body tissue from damage by disabling free radicals (groups of unpaired atoms in the body that can lead to cancer or heart disease).
Your daily dose of E might also prevent the hardening of your arteries and keep blood clots at bay (a nice heart health combo to go with avocados’ monounsaturated fats).
Then there’s avocados’ high levels of Vitamin B6. Among other awesome functions, Vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine) assists with glucose metabolism and helps provide energy for the body.
Last but not least, avocados are low in one mineral most people should rein in: sodium. In a single serving, you’ll take in just 3.5 milligrams, a drop in the bucket of the daily recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams.
Not all vitamins and minerals are antioxidants, but there is quite a bit of crossover between the two — like the vitamin E we just mentioned.
Besides vitamin E, avocados are rich in other promising antioxidants, including two carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin.
You don’t have to be able to pronounce them — just know that lutein can reduce inflammation, which may protect against arthritis (although more research is needed).
When lutein pairs up with zeaxanthin, it can also do your eyes (and even your brain) a favor. The two compounds are associated with optimal vision, and a 2017 study found that when older people got more of these compounds from avocados, they had better cognitive performance.
Ah, the magical microbiome — that breeding ground of so many health benefits. Having an abundance of friendly bacteria in your gut has been linked to all sorts of positives — but chief among them is, of course, healthy digestion.
Avocados pave the way for smooth moves, shall we say, by providing plenty of fiber in a small package. Even just one-third of the fruit contains 3.5 grams — 14 percent of the daily target of 28 grams.
It’s no surprise, then, that a 2021 study found that people who included avocado in their diets had improved “abundance” of certain bacteria in their GI tracts, including total numbers and diversity (both of which are very good things!).
We know what you’re thinking: Uh, aren’t avocados super high in fat and calories? It’s true that these creamy fruits aren’t a low fat food, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a useful part of a weight loss diet.
That fiber we talked about? Definitely has an impact on the number on the scale. Research shows that more dietary fiber often equals fewer pounds. And avocados spreading good juju in your microbiome could be another key to maintaining a healthy weight.
The best kinds of healthy foods are the ones you actually want to eat. With mild flavor and pleasantly smooth texture, avocado tends to be a crowd-pleaser. Plus, it doesn’t take a culinary degree to make tons of delicious recipes with these versatile fruits.
Just keep in mind that there can be too much of a good thing. Due to the fruit’s high fat content (roughly 85 percent of the avocado’s calories come from fat), most experts recommend consuming no more than roughly half of an avocado per day.
How do I store an avocado?
If your avo isn’t yet ripe enough, you can store it uncut at room temperature. If it’s ripe and ready, it can be stored in the fridge. An uncut avocado will last a few days in the fridge, giving you time to plan your meal around it.
Once cut, however, you’ll want to eat it pretty quickly, usually within a day. Storing it in a sealed container will keep it mostly fresh (just scrape off any darker portions) or store the cut side in some shallow water to keep the air from making it go brown.
How do you know when an avocado is ripe?
The first step of adding avocado to a healthy diet (and perhaps the most daunting one) is knowing which fruit to pick. A good rule of thumb is to buy the fruit when it’s firm, and let it ripen for a few days before eating.
To know when the avocado is ready to eat, squeeze it lightly. It should still be somewhat firm, but with enough give that a knife could smoothly cut through it.
What do I do if my avocado is too ripe?
If an avocado is purchased too ripe or forgotten on the kitchen counter, don’t let it go to waste! It’s easy to turn an abandoned avocado into a homemade face mask or hair treatment.
Here are some ways to make the most of your slices of green goodness.
Ways to incorporate avo into your life
- Check out our list of avocado smoothies, salads, breakfasts and more.
- Try these variations on avocado toast.
- Stuff avocados 11 different ways.
- Up your guacamole game with these healthy guac recipes.
- Make pesto a different shade of green in this quinoa with broccoli-avocado pesto.