Health Benefits of Avocado - Why You Should be Eating this Superfood Every Day
No, man cannot live by bread alone, he at least needs toast. Preferably artisan bread smeared with a generous amount of creamy avocado (and maybe some EVOO and egg, if you’re feeling fancy). Americans, especially, are avocado toast OBSESSED.
The amount of avocados we eat as Americans has tripled over the past 20 years according to the USDA - we’re now eating about 7 pounds of this buttery fruit per person, per year. Some of us are eating avocado even more often – like every day. How about you?
What are avocados?
Let’s back up for a minute and talk about what an avocado is.
The avocado is actually a fruit, specifically the fruit of the Avocado tree. Avocados are highly prized for having a high nutrient content, mild, creamy flavor and the fact that it can be used in many, many delicious ways.
According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the humble avocado originally came from southern Mexico + Colombia around 7,000 years ago. By the 16th century, Aztecs and Incas had “shared” the joys of avocado with the Spanish conquistadors, who named them “aguacate.” Since then, avocados have assimilated so deeply into North American culture that avocado toast is now basically synonymous with sunny, carefree California vibes.
Avocados are rich in vitamins and nutrients
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one avocado has the following:
- 64 calories (around 400 calories per avocado)
- 29 grams of healthy fats
- Only 17 grams of carbs
- Less than 5 grams of sugar
- Almost 15 grams of fiber
Avocados are also a fantastic source of vitamins like C, E, K, and B-6, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. They also provide lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids. Try saying that five times fast!
For example, here are some of the most valuable nutrients in a single 3.5-ounce (1 fruit) serving of avocado:
- Vitamin K: 26% of the daily value (DV)
- Folate: 20% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 17% of the DV
- Potassium: 14% of the DV
- Vitamin B5: 14% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 10% of the DV
One avocado also contains small amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorous and vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin).
Is it OK to eat an avocado EVERY day?
The short answer is YES, absolutely (provided we don’t have a shortage – crossing my fingers!). Avocados are an amazing source of nutrients and great for your overall health. Today the humble avocado has become an incredibly popular food among the health community and beyond, and has truly become recognized as the superfood it is.
People who eat avocados are healthier!
That’s right – your avocado toast is actually making you healthier. One study looked at the dietary habits and overall health of people who eat avocados, vs. those who don’t. Data from over 17,567 participants was analyzed, and it was found that in the US, those who regularly eat avocados were much healthier than those who didn’t.
Regular avocado fans had a much higher nutrient intake, and were HALF as likely to have metabolic syndrome, a major risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. They also weighed less, had a lower BMI, and less belly fat, along with higher levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.
So we know eating avocados can be good for you, but let’s break it down even further and talk about why.
Eating avocado can help with weight loss
There’s a lot of evidence that eating avocados can actually help you lose weight!
In one study, people eating avocado with a meal felt 23% more satisfied and had a 28% lower desire to eat over the next 5 hours, compared to people who did not eat avocados. If this is true, incorporating avocados into your meals can help you naturally eat less calories, as well as making it easier for you to stick to healthy eating between meals.
Plus, avocados are high in natural fiber, and low in carbs. Foods like this help promote weight loss while you’re eating a healthy, real-food-based diet.
A 2013 study in Nutrition Journal found that people who eat avocados often tend to have significantly higher intakes of vegetables, fruit, dietary fiber, monounsaturated fats, vitamins E and K, and lower consumption of added sugars than people who did not eat avocados.
How are avocados good for you?
So by now you're thinking - OK, I'm convinced that eating an avocado a day is good for me, but why? There are so, so many reasons why avocados are good for you! Here are just a few:
Avocados have more potassium than Bananas (no, really!)
Potassium is one of the most important minerals in your body. It helps regulate your body’s balance of fluids, muscle contractions and nerve signals. A high-potassium diet can help reduce blood pressure and water retention, protect against stroke and prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones. Yay!
What you might not know is that avocados are very high in potassium, higher than bananas! One avocado has 14% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of potassium, compared to just 10% in bananas, the food everyone thinks of when they need a potassium boost.
Several studies show that having a high potassium intake is linked to reduced blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.
Avocados are a high (healthy) fat food
Loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids essential for heart health, avocados are a great choice for a natural, plant-based source of healthy fats. In fact, 77% of the calories in avocado come from fat, which making it one of the fattiest plants we know of.
And not just any fats, avocados are a great source of oleic acid – a monounsaturated fatty acid also found in olive oil (and loaded with health benefits). Oleic acid can help reduce inflammation and also be helpful in preventing cancer.
Plus, the fat content in avocados may help you absorb nutrients from other plant-based foods! You need to be able to absorb the nutrients you consume, moving them from your digestive tract and to your body where your body puts them to use. Some nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning they need to be combined with fats to be absorbed vitamins A, D, E & K are fat-soluble, as are many antioxidants.
One study showed that adding avocado or avocado oil to either salads or salsa can increase your antioxidant absorption up to 15 times more than without.
Bonus, the fats in avocado are resistant to heat-induced oxidation, which makes it a great oil to use in cooking!
Remember how I said antioxidants are fat-soluble? Well it’s a good thing they are because on top of increasing your antioxidant absorption from other foods, avocados are also PACKED with antioxidants themselves.
A couple of these important antioxidants include the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health important for the health of your eyes.
Studies show that these specific antioxidants are linked to drastically reduced risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, which are common in older adults.
So basically, eating avocados benefits your overall eye health during the course of your life.
Avocados have tons of fiber
In addition to monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, avocados are also rich in fiber. Fiber is important for weight loss, and digestive system health. One avocado packs a full 7 grams of fiber, or 27% of your recommended daily allowance.
About 25% of the fiber in avocado is soluble, meaning they help keep you feeling full and gut-friendly, and 75% is insoluble, or the kind of fiber that contributes to weight loss, reduce blood sugar spikes and a lower risk of many other issues.
Avocado can help prevent diabetes
Early studies are showing that there may be something about avocados that helps prevent diabetes. Apart from eating a healthy, veggie-filled diet. In one animal study from the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph (Canada), it was found that a specific fat molecule called avocation B (or AvoB for short) found ONLY in avocados, can help restrict the cellular process that can cause diabetes.
"The treated mice showed greater insulin sensitivity, meaning that their bodies were able to absorb and burn blood glucose and improve their response to insulin," author Paul Spagnulo reported in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
What does that mean for you? It means in addition to other type 2 diabetes prevention efforts, adding an avocado a day to your diet can really help your efforts.
Avocados can lower your risk of depression
Although it's true, no one can really be sad while eating avocado toast, avocados can actually do more than that to help with depression. Avocados are rich in folate, and folate has been found to help decrease the risk of depression, because folate helps prevent the build-up of homocysteine.
Homocysteine build-up can impair circulation and delivery of nutrients to the brain, and can also interfere with the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine – all key chemicals that help regulate your mood. So basically, eating avocados can literally make you happier!
How to eat avocados
So you’re convinced – you want to add more avocado to your life, but you’re wondering how to eat avocados? Well the number of different answers may surprise you! Avocado isn’t just wonderful on avocado toast (though avocado toast is amazing), there are so, so many ways to get some avocado in your diet! We’ve rounded up only some of our favorite fun ways to eat avocado:
The simplest way to enjoy avocados is by sprinkling them with a pinch of salt and pepper (after skinning them of course).
You can also try other seasonings like paprika, cayenne pepper, balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice.
A quick way to season an avocado is to cut it into chunks and drizzle it with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, and salt
Avocado toast is the classic, all-American way to eat your avocados! Either slice or mash and smear on toast – add-ons like egg, EVOO, hemp hearts, garlic or tomato are all just icing on the cake. Here are just some of our favorite avocado toast toppings:
- red pepper flakes
- sesame seeds
- hemp hearts
- chia seeds
- smoked salmon
- cream cheese
- goat cheese
- fruits - strawberries, blueberries and more
It might not seem intuitive, but adding avocado to smoothies not only boosts the nutritional value of your smoothies, but also the thickness and creaminess too! Plus, avocado is such a mild flavor it’s easily masked by richer flavors like chocolate.
If you want to get started with avocado smoothies, Blendtopia Keto Green, keto Chocolate Chai and Strength smoothie kits all use avocado to boost the protein and nutrient value of the smoothie itself, while still maintaining a delicious flavor. Plus they come ready-to-blend and literally take 30 minutes until you have a delicious smoothie!
If you want to make your own smoothie at home, here are our favorite things to blend with an avocado smoothie:
- banana (double up on the potassium)
- cacao or chocolate
- vanilla almond milk
- coconut milk
- protein powder
- kale or spinach
Avocado baby food
Avocado makes a GREAT first baby food! It’s naturally mushy, creamy and full of nutrients – much better than a rice cracker. If you’re looking to make avocado cubes a little easier for tiny fingers to grab, I’ve got a tip for you: When my kids were young, I would coat the avocado cubes in baby cereal + spices to add a little flavor and make them less slippery.
You can also mash up an avocado and spoon-feed it as a great first mashed food!
This is another super simple one – just remove the pit from you avocado and “stuff” the center with your favorite fillings. We love tuna + cherry tomatoes in our house! But other great things to stuff it with include scrambled eggs, sandwich toppings, chickpeas, pulled pork or chicken, salsa, and so much more!
Avocados can make an awesome addition to your scrambled eggs in the morning, just dice and mix in at the end. Bonus points for topping your concoction with some zesty salsa! But our favorite way to have avocado eggs is baked: Just halve and pit your avocado, and scoop out just a little more of the meat around the indentation left by the pit. Crack an egg in each side, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.
Avocado oil for cooking
Heard of avocado oil? Turns out avocado oil is some of the BEST cooking oil you can use! Not only is it packed with all the nutrients of your avocado, but it also has a high smoke point and is nearly flavorless, making it perfect for anything you’re frying or grilling!
The classic, Mexican-food staple is of course still one of the best ways to use avocado. Mash, mix with some sour cream, add some fresh tomatoes, lime juice and onion, salt and pepper. Serve with chips or eat with a spoon!
Substitute avocado for sour cream and mayo in recipes
Fun fact; avocado makes a great substitute for mayo or sour cream in recipes, especially for tuna, pasta or chicken salad. Just mash or puree until smooth (throw in a little lemon juice to maintain color) and use in place of these ingredients. You can also mash it up and spread it on your sandwich bread instead of mayonnaise.
This one is super easy but INSANELY tasty - just cut an avocado in half and remove the seed. Drizzle the halves with lemon juice and brush them with olive oil and seasonings of your choice. Place the cut side down on the grill and cook for 2–3 minutes.
Avocado pit tea
When eating avocados, don’t throw away the pits! If you do, you’re missing out on amping up your weight loss! The pit of an avocado is filled with four nutrients that are known to support workout recovery and weight loss: Calcium, soluble fiber, magnesium + potassium.
If you want to reap the benefits of this nutrition powerhouse, chop up your avocado pit into several large pieces and put into a tea infuser. Use your infuser in your fav tea mug by pouring boiling water over it. Just remember, avocado seeds are a little bitter, so you’ll probably want to add a little natural sweetener.
Keto avocado "sandwich"
No bread? No problem! Just peel your avocado, remove the pit, and add your favorite keto sandwich fixings to the middle for a low-carb sandwich option!
Avocado has long been an ingredient in the famous California roll, one of the most delicious sushi options. But many different kinds of sushi rolls use avocado as a garnish, or even in place of nori. Plus, this gives you an excuse to eat more sushi!
Add avocado to tacos
Try topping your next batch of tacos with avocado chunks instead of guac - you won't regret it! You can even use avocado as a plant based protein substitute instead of meat, just pile on the toppings with an avocado base!
Top your poke bowl with avocado
Just like with sushi, avocado makes the perfect plant-based protein to add to your favorite poke bowl. Along with your sauces, sesame seeds and veggies, try tossing on a handful of diced avocado to go with your poke!
Make chocolate avocado pudding
Pudding? With AVOCADO? Yes! Avocado makes the perfect creamy, thick base for a seriously good chocolate pudding that's almost more like a chocolate mousse than a mere pudding.Here's what you need to make your own chocolate avocado pudding:
- flesh of 2 ripe avocados (240g)
- 1/4 cup regular cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup dutch cocoa OR melted chocolate chips
- 3-4 tbsp milk of choice
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- sweetener of choice to taste (I like 1/4 cup pure maple syrup)
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until completely smooth.
Add avocado to your burger
An excuse to eat sushi + an excuse to eat burgers, really where can you go wrong with avocado? Try adding sliced of mashed avocado to your next burger for a creamy topping and southwest flavor.
So in conclusion, the long answer is YES, you can, and should be eating an avocado a day. The health benefits are so incredibly worth it, and there are SO many delicious ways to prepare them you literally can't go wrong.
If you're looking for more reading on superfoods,
- How to Make a Healthy Smoothie
- The BEST Smoothie Bowl Toppings
- The Power of Chocolate + Two Vegan Recipes You'll Love
- Lose Weight and Keep it off With These Healthy Smoothie Recipes
- Natural Detoxifiers, Charcoal & Clay
- Ten Best Herbs & Superfoods to Boost Your Immune System
What's your favorite way to eat avocado? Leave your comments below! Be sure to come follow Blendtopia on Facebook to stay connected, and follow us on Pinterest to get even more ideas for maintaining your mental, physical, and emotional wellness.