The avocado is a fruit that is native to Mexico and Central America. Its scientific name is Persea americana. Avocados provide great health benefits and are easy to incorporate into your diet. If you’ve never tried one, now is the time to become acquainted with this awesome plant food.
The reason? Avocados are power packed with nutrition. Weighing in at about six ounces and 160 calories, they contain 15 grams of monounsaturated (healthy) fat and 2 grams of protein. One serving (about one/fifth of an avocado) contains only 3 grams of carbohydrate, 2 of which are fiber. According to Authority Nutrition, avocados also provide the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA.
- Folate: 20% of the RDA
- Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 14% of the RDA. (That’s more than bananas!)
- Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA.
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA.
- Small amounts of Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorous, Vitamin A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin).
Consumption of avocados has been linked with improved heart health and may be useful in weight loss. That’s because the main type of fat in avocados, oleic acid, helps reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Eating avocados may also lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as reduce the “bad” LDL cholesterol and increase the good HDL cholesterol. The fat in avocados helps people feel full, contributing to weight loss. In addition, the low sugar/high fiber content is helpful for those trying to lose weight. Just remember that even though avocados boast many health benefits, some people may need to avoid them if (1) they suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, or (2) are allergic to latex.
There are many types of avocado, but the most popular type is the Hass avocado with dark green bumpy skin. It’s named after the man who first grew and sold that type of avocado in California in 1926.
Avocados are easy to prepare and add to recipes. For detailed instructions on how to cut an avocado, check out Avocado Central. Once cut, they tend to turn brown, so try sprinkling a little lemon juice to help maintain the bright green color. The healthy fat in avocados provides a smooth, creamy texture that is delicious eaten plain or combined with other ingredients to make spreads and dips. The most popular dip, guacamole, can also be used as a garnish in Mexican recipes or on salads and sandwiches. See Avocado Central for recipe ideas and preparation tips.
So what are you waiting for? Begin now to discover the different ways an avocado can become part of your healthy diet!
Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County
Reviewed by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County