The avocado is the fatty fruit of the avocado tree, scientifically known as Persea americana. It is native to Mexico and Central America.
Rich in monounsaturated fats, the avocado has a smooth and creamy texture. It is much higher in fat than most other fruits.
Avocados have a unique nutrition profile. They contain lots of fiber and are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as B-vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E and vitamin C.
The consumption of avocados has been associated with various health benefits, such as decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. They are also very satiating and may be useful for weight loss.
Avocados can be eaten raw, but are also commonly used in foods like guacamole.
This is what an avocado usually looks like:
There are many different types of avocados, varying in color, size and shape.
Avocados are usually pear-shaped to round and they come in many different shades of green, ranging from pale green to almost black when fully ripe.
The most popular type is called Hass avocado, which is round with black skin.
Half an avocado (68 grams) contains 109 calories, corresponding to 160 calories per 100 grams.
The table below contains information on all the nutrients in avocados (1).
|Vitamin A||7 µg||1%|
|Vitamin C||10 mg||11%|
|Vitamin D||0 µg||~|
|Vitamin E||2.07 mg||14%|
|Vitamin K||21 µg||18%|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)||0.07 mg||6%|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.13 mg||10%|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||1.74 mg||11%|
|Vitamin B5 (Panthothenic acid)||1.39 mg||28%|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.26 mg||20%|
|Vitamin B12||0 µg||~|
|Aspartic acid||236 mg|
|Glutamic acid||287 mg|
|Saturated fatty acids||2.126 g|
|Monounsaturated fatty acids||9.799 g|
|Polyunsaturated fatty acids||1.816 g|
|20:5 n-3 (EPA)||0 mg|
|22:5 n-3 (DPA)||0 mg|
|22:6 n-3 (DHA)||0 mg|
Compared to other fruits, avocados contain very little sugar.
Half an avocado (68 grams) contains only 0.5 grams of sugar, in the form of glucose, fructose and galactose (2).
The net digestible carbs are only 1.8 grams for each 100 grams of avocado.
Fiber occupies most of the carbohydrate content (79%) of avocados.
Half an avocado provides 4.5 grams of fiber, which is very high.
Dietary fiber is an important dietary component with many health benefits.
Not everyone is sensitive to FODMAPs, but they may cause unpleasant digestive symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Bottom line: Avocados contain a lot of fiber, and very little sugar. They also contain FODMAPs, short chain carbs that may cause unpleasant digestive symptoms in some people.
As a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, the avocado is a very unusual fruit.
The most abundant fatty acid is oleic acid, which is also the main component of olive oil.
Bottom line: Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, mainly oleic acid. They may help protect against heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Vitamins and Minerals
Avocados are rich in many essential vitamins and minerals. The most abundant ones are listed below.
- Folate (B9): Avocados contain a lot of folate, which is important for normal cell function and tissue growth, and is particularly important for pregnant women (14, 15).
- Vitamin K1: Vitamin K1 is important for blood clotting, and may have benefits for bone health (16, 17).
- Potassium: An essential mineral, beneficial for blood pressure control and heart health (18, 19). Avocados actually contain more potassium than bananas (1).
- Copper: A trace element that is relatively low in the Western diet. Low copper intake may have adverse effects on heart health (20).
- Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant, often found in high amounts in fatty plant foods.
- Vitamin B6: A group of related vitamins that help convert food into energy.
- Vitamin C: An antioxidant that is important for immune function and skin health (21).
Bottom line: Avocados are rich in many vitamins and minerals, such as B-vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C, potassium and copper.
Other Plant Compounds
These are the main plant compounds in avocados:
- Carotenoids: Avocados contain many carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health and may reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases (22, 23).
- Persenones A and B: Unique antioxidants that may have protective effects against inflammation and cancer (24, 25).
- D-Mannoheptulose A type of sugar found in avocados, claimed to assist with blood sugar control (26, 27, 28).
Avocados are very high in carotenoid antioxidants, and eating fat along with these antioxidants tends to increase their absorption into the body.
Because avocados are high in fat, the carotenoid antioxidants in them are particularly well absorbed (29).
Bottom line: Avocados are rich in plant compounds, such as carotenoids, antioxidants and a sugar called D-Mannoheptulose. The carotenoids are well absorbed because of the high fat content of avocados.
Health Benefits of Avocados
Avocados are high in antioxidants and many important nutrients, some of which are rare in the modern diet.
For this reason, it is not surprising to see that avocados have numerous health benefits.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world (30).
Research has shown that avocado consumption may reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides significantly, as well as lower the potentially harmful LDL cholesterol and increase the good HDL cholesterol (35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40).
Satiety and Weight Loss
However, eating avocados does not seem to prevent weight loss in overweight people.
For this reason, avocados may be an excellent addition to an effective weight loss diet.
Reducing Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries, characterized by progressive deterioration of the joint cartilage.
Avocado and soybean unsaponifiables are supplements made from avocado oil (33%) and soybean oil (66%), primarily used to suppress symptoms in people with arthritis.
You can read more in this article on the 12 evidence-based health benefits of avocado.
Bottom line: Avocados may reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which are major risk factors for heart disease. They are also very filling, and may reduce symptoms of arthritis.
Avocados are safe to eat for the majority of people, but may cause problems in individuals with allergy or irritable bowel syndrome.
In latex-fruit syndrome, the immune system attacks fruit proteins that are similar to the allergy-causing proteins in latex.
FODMAPs and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Avocados contain FODMAPs, short-chain carbohydrates that may cause problems in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
If you have digestive issues, then monitor your symptoms carefully after eating avocados.
Bottom line: Avocado allergy is rare, but they may cause allergic reactions in individuals who suffer from latex allergy. They also contain FODMAPs, which may cause digestive symptoms in sensitive individuals.
Avocados are very filling, incredibly nutritious and taste really good.
They are a good source of several vitamins, minerals and plant compounds, and may have benefits for heart health and arthritis.
All things considered, avocados are an excellent addition to a healthy diet.