Avocados are fruits like none other.
It's the only fruit that contains mostly fat. In every cup of avocado, there's 25g of fat, which makes up 82% of its overall calories.
But not to worry.
While a fatty fruit like that may sound like an awfully unhealthy food, it's not. And it won't make you fat.
These rich and creamy treats contain the healthy kind of fat. It's the same heart-healthy "monounsaturated fat" you find in olive oil. Not only that, research suggests a diet rich in this type of fat may actually help lower your cholesterol and keep your blood sugar in check. It may even help you lose weight.
Avocados are also naturally packed with nutrients, containing nearly 20 vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium and vitamin C, E.
It's really no surprise avocado is often labeled as a superfood, and it has become incredibly popular amongst the health conscious individuals.
No doubt. "Avocado fruit" is one of the healthiest fruits you can include in your diet and proven to positively impact your health in numerous ways.
Here are 7 health benefits of avocado, that are backed by science.
1. Avocado is sugar-free
If you are on a weight loss plan or have diabetes and watching sugar intake, avocado is a fruit fallen from the heaven.
With just half a gram of sugar in 1/2 avocado, it's considered sugar-free by the FDA standard.
According to Avocadocentral.com, avocados have the least amount of sugar per serving (1/5 of a medium avocado) than any other fresh fruit, making it a great way to meet your daily vegetable and fruit recommended intake without packing in any additional sugar.
With avocados being extremely low in sugar, people who most often have to watch their blood sugar level like diabetes patients can have a serving without substantially raising their glucose levels.
2. Avocado is rich in fiber
When you think of fiber, you think of beans.
But that doesn't mean other produce doesn't contain fiber.
Out of 17 grams of carbohydrates every whole avocado has, 13 grams is fiber.
That's right. 77% of avocado's carb content is fiber.
That's more than 1 cup of pinto beans, which contains 11 grams of fiber.
For most Americans, this is a much needed nutrient as average adult in the U.S.. only eats about 15 grams of fiber per day when 25-30 grams of fiber is recommended.
Let's also not forget the weight loss benefit of eating fiber.
According to a study reported by Harvard Health Publications, consuming 30 grams of fiber each day can help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, and improve your body's response to insulin.
“In addition to weight control, higher fiber diets can also help to prevent type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.
And the American Heart Association recommends that 30 grams of fiber to come from food, not supplements.
Include a variety of food fiber sources, and you'll see your weight and blood sugar go down, says the authorities.
3. Avocado quell hunger
According to ABC News, every year Americans spend more than $18 billion on roughly 29,000 varieties of appetite suppressant pills across the country.
While appetite suppressants, diet and weight loss pills may seem like a short cut and magic bullet to managing your eating habits, without carful inspections, you can be taking in a lot more than natural sources of appetite suppressants.
"Most of the diet pills that are touted in infomercials are, at best, ineffective and, at worst, dangerous to your health," said "Good Morning America" medical contributor Dr. David Katz.
Plus, when you can have a natural produce like fresh avocado and curve your appetite, why would you spend hundreds of dollars on pills that you don't know the ingredients of and may hurt your health and weight? Well, you wouldn't!
According to Jennipher Walters from Shape.com, there are at least a couple of dozens of natural appetite suppressants, and avocados sure are one of them. And surprisingly, it's the fats in avocados that sends the satiety signals to your brain and keeps your body informed that you are full.
In case you are wondering, potassium rich dark chocolate also made their cut.
To really take it all the way, combine several appetite suppressant ingredients and make an ultimate sweets that keep you full throughout the day.
4. Avocado is high in protein
Avocado's association with fats is out in the open.
What you may not know is avocados make a high-quality source of protein, especially a valuable one for vegetarian and vegan diet.
Avocados, most known as a fatty fruit also provide all 18 essential amino acids necessary for your body to form a complete protein.
How important those 18 amino acids?
If you want to maintain your flawless skin, shiny hair and toned body, it's extremely important.
As Arizona University states, the human body uses 20 amino acids, of which, 10 our bodies can produce.
But the remaining "essential" ones must come from the diet.
Failing to take in even 1 of the 10 essential amino acids we cannot make, results in degradation of the body's proteins - muscles, slow wound repair, impaired immunity and dullness in skin and hair.
5. Avocado is low in carbohydrates
Carbs, treated and known as a nutritional villain are present in avocados.
After all, avocados are classified as plant based fruits.
So how much carbs does one avocado have?
But these total carbohydrate counts don't tell you the whole story.
In carbohydrates, there are starch, sugar and fiber.
Out of the three, fiber is the only carb that's considered "complex carb".
Because the body cannot digest fiber, it doesn't provide energy, spike your insulin and raise your blood sugar.
Yes, fiber is a carb type,but it doesn't behave like the other two: starch and sugar. A good thing - that is.
And the difference between carbs in papayas and avocados is just that.
While 1 avocado contains 13 g of fiber and 1.3 g of sugar in its total 17 g of carb, papaya has a much higher sugar content (12 g) and less fiber (2.7g).
In short, much of avocado carb is fiber. There is very little sugar if not at all, as FDA defines.
This makes avocado's net carb count very little, and it brings you all the benefit of low-carb diet.
Because of it, carbohydrates in avocado are not problematic for diabetes control.
For those counting calories, it is still recommended that you eat avocados in moderation as calories in avocados can add up fast!
6. Avocado for a healthy heart
Rumor has it that avocado oil is the new coconut oil.
Avocado known for its good fat content is taking the healthy oil market by its storm and making a media buzz all over claiming its throne as the new fat king.
But does it live up to its hype?
Research says it does.
According to Dr. Mark Dreher, PhD, unlike coconut oil that's healthy but full of saturated fat, avocado oil is mostly made up of unsaturated fats (71% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and 13% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)), giving them the competitive advantage over coconut oil.
Here is the simple comparison of the two oils.
|Oil, coconut||Avocado oil|
|Amount per||1 tbsp (14 g)||1 tbsp (14 g)|
|% Daily Value||% Daily Value|
14g / 21%
|14g / 21%|
|Saturated fat||12g / 60%||1.6g /8%|
From the comparison chart above, you can see most of avocado oil is monounsaturated fat.
And if you are concerned of your risk for cardiovascular diseases, avocado oil by far brings more benefits.
In one 4-week long study done on Type 2 diabetes patients, it was evident that this monounsaturated fat in avocados can lower cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol.
The study divided participants into two groups.
One group followed a monounsaturated fat diet rich in avocado, and the other ate a low-fat complex-carb rich diet.
While both groups showed a similar result in blood lipids and glycemic controls, the one who ate avocado rich diet showed a significantly lower plasma triglycerides, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease for both men and women.
7. Avocado boosts your nutrients intake
We often talk about plant-based foods high in nutrients, and we recommend them full heartedly.
What we haven't talked enough of is how to absorb those nutrients more.
See, it's about the food's nutrient density, but it's also about our body's ability to absorb them.
After all, if we are putting the efforts to eat more nutrients by adding more veggies and fruits to our diet, we want to make sure we get them. Right?
Recent study that study whole foods that provide carotenoids says by adding 1 cup or 1 small avocado to your diet can increase your nutrient absorption by two to six times, especially for those foods rich in carotenoids.
In case you don't know, there is so much to be excited about this extra absorption of carotenoids.
Carotenoids, often found in foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots and leafy greens, are plant chemicals (a class of phytonutrients) and act as an "antioxidants" in the human body. They are also known for cancer-fighting properties, says the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
Some carotenoids also convert to vitamin A, which helps with vision, growth and development.
And you guessed it! Research shows that avocado improve conversion of specific carotenoids (beta-carotene) into active vitamin A.
So next time you eat salad or salsa, think of avocado.
So how much avocado should you eat per day?
Of course, fat comes with calories, and avocado is no exception. Since avocado primarily consists of fat, you don't want to start eating avocados in excess.
For a 2,000-calorie diet, the daily intake of fat, including the good kind "monounsaturated fat", is capped at 65 grams. A five-ounce or medium-size avocado (roughly one cup) contains 23 grams of fat. That's almost one third of your fat intake for a day—providing roughly 250 calories.
Nutritionist Julie Upton recommends a half of avocado per day is more than enough to get the full benefits of avocados, while still managing your overall calorie intake.