Some nutrition experts call the avocado a super food. This flavorful fruit provides health benefits when you add it to your favorite dishes. But when you look at avocado nutrition, you might be surprised. Not only are avocado calories high, but most of the calories come from fat. So, should you include this fruit in your diet? Many healthy eaters do, but usually in moderation.
Nutritional Facts: The following information is provided by the USDA for one half of an avocado (about 100g) without skin or seed.
- Calories: 160
- Fat: 14.7g
- Sodium: 7mg
- Carbohydrates: 8.5g
- Fiber: 6.7g
- Sugars: 0.7g
- Protein: 2g
Calories: The number of calories in avocado will depend on its size. The avocado nutrition facts shown are for half of a medium-sized avocado, but many avocados are smaller and some can be much larger (up to 300 grams or more). According to the USDA Nutrient Database, there are 322 calories in a larger (200 gram) avocado. In general, an average avocado ranges from 200 to 300 calories according to the Cleveland Clinic.
It’s more helpful to look at avocado calories per serving to see how your avocado calories add up. If you spread a thin layer of avocado on your sandwich or add a small amount to your healthy taco you are probably consuming roughly 30 grams or about two tablespoons of fruit. Of course, you may not use a tablespoon to measure the fruit. Most of us just slice a wedge or divide the avocado into quarters to get the portion we want. If you eat one-fifth of an avocado (that’s a little less than a quarter of the fruit), you’ll be consuming roughly two tablespoons of avocado or 50 calories.
Carbs: Most of the carbohydrates in an avocado come from fiber. A whole avocado provides about 17 grams of carbohydrate and 13.5 grams of fiber. There is very little sugar in an avocado (less than one gram) and the rest of the carbohydrate in the fruit comes from starch. A single serving of avocado provides about 4.2 carbohydrates and 3.35 grams of fiber. The glycemic index for avocado is estimated to be 15, making it a low-glycemic food.
Fats: Most of the calories in an avocado come from fat, but mostly in the form of healthier monounsaturated fat.1 A whole avocado provides up to 30 grams of fat, 4.2 grams of saturated fat, almost 20 grams of monounsaturated fat, and 3.6 grams of polyunsaturated fat.
Monounsaturated fat is considered a “good” fat. Monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFAs come from plant sources and may be helpful in lowering your LDL or “bad” cholesterol. For this reason, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that you choose foods with monounsaturated fats instead of saturated fat.
Protein: A single serving of avocado provides about one gram of protein. A whole avocado provides about 4 grams of protein.
Vitamins and Minerals: If you consume just a single serving of avocado, it won’t provide substantial vitamins or minerals simply because the amount you eat is very small. But a whole avocado is a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, vitamin E, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. Minerals in a whole avocado include magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, and magnesium.
Health Benefits: Even if you eat more avocado than you should, you still provide your body with health benefits. Avocados have been studied extensively in part because the Hass Avocado Board funds much of the research. For this reason, it can be tricky to discern whether it is avocados specifically or any type of healthy-fat food (such as nuts, seeds, or olive oil) that provides the benefit that is studied during a clinical trial or review. Three particular areas of interest are avocado’s impact on diabetes, cholesterol or heart health, and weight management.
Improved Diabetes Management: Avocados may provide benefits for people with diabetes. Although avocados have carbohydrates, their low glycemic index rating of less than 15 means that they have little effect on blood sugar. The glycemic index is a scale from 1 to 100, with high numbers indicating foods that raise your blood sugar faster.
Avocados are a good choice when you have diabetes, especially when you use them to replace higher-glycemic foods. They can add variety to your diabetes meal plan or make a quick snack as a dip for celery, carrots, or other vegetables. The American Diabetes Association recommends replacing dairy with avocado for morning smoothies, using it on whole grain toast as a cholesterol-free spread, in salads, and to create sauces for dinner entrees.
Better Cholesterol: Several studies have shown that avocado consumption may improve cholesterol levels in some people. Specifically, research has suggested that those who eat avocados have higher levels of HDL cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Weight Loss: Though avocados are high in calories, they still may provide benefits if you are trying to lose weight. The creamy texture and savory taste that comes from healthy fat can help you to feel full and satisfied at mealtime. Avocados also provide fiber. Eating foods with fiber can help you to feel fuller and more satisfied. Healthy eating and weight loss experts generally recommend that those trying to reach and maintain a healthy weight consume foods with fiber to help them eat less and create the calorie deficit needed for weight loss.
Studies have shown an association between avocado consumption and lower body weight, lower BMI, and decreased waist circumference. And some limited studies have found that regular consumption of avocados may be able to reduce your risk of becoming overweight. If weight loss is your goal, however, you may want to be mindful of much you eat. Even healthy fats provide nine calories per gram as compared to carbohydrate and protein that each provide four calories per gram.
You can use avocados instead of other spreads or toppings that provide less healthy fats, like butter or margarine that may contain saturated fats or trans-fat. As long as you keep your avocado calories in control and eat just a tablespoon of avocado (or even slightly more) at a time, you’ll be doing your healthy eating plan a favor.
Allergies: People with oral allergy syndrome may experience an allergic reaction when eating an avocado, also called pollen-food sensitivity syndrome. You may experience an itchy mouth or lips when exposed to the fruit. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, oral allergy syndrome is rarely associated with symptoms beyond the oral cavity such as hives, breathing difficulty, or anaphylaxis.
Adverse Effects: Avocado may decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin). If you are taking the medication, check with your healthcare provider for a personalized recommendation.
Varieties: Many people are familiar with Hass avocados, commonly found at the grocery store. Hass avocados make up 95% of all the avocados eaten in the USA.11 This variety has skin with a familiar dark, pebbly texture. But there are other varieties as well. Other varieties include Pinkerton, Reed, Zutano, Bacon, Fuerte, and Gwen. Some of these are larger than the Hass and may have thinner brighter skin. Most avocados come from Mexico, although some come from Hawaii, California, and Florida.
In Season: The avocado tree has a long harvest season, so the fruit can be found in most grocery stores year-round. In California, the growing season lasts from February through September, but avocados are grown in Mexico all year long.
Storage and Food Safety: When choosing an avocado, use both color and feel to find the best fruit. First, choose an avocado with a dark but consistent color. Take it in the palm of your hand and gently squeeze it. If it yields slightly, it is ripe and ready to use. In general, you can store ripe, uncut avocados in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. If you eat your avocado just a tablespoon at a time and you hate to waste food, use smart storage tips to keep your avocados fresh. Many cooks add lime or lemon juice to their fruit so that they can eat just a small amount and save the rest for later.
To ripen an unripe avocado quickly place it in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana for 2-3 days. You can freeze an avocado, but many cooks say that it changes the texture of the fruit.