From helping with weight loss and improving gut health to potentially reducing inflammation and heart disease risk, the humble avocado is more than just a tasty accompaniment.
Re-introducing the avocado
Healthy, versatile and delicious – avocados have become a kitchen staple worldwide. Although some people refer to avocados as a fruit and some say they’re a vegetable, avocados (Persea americana) are actually berries. 
Avocados are native to Central America and Mexico, yet farmed in many areas, including North America. In the United States, California is the highest producer of avocados and is home to over 5,000 avocado farms, which yield around 400 million pounds yearly (2).
These fruits are an integral part of definitive Mexican, Central American and South American cuisine and are part of dishes like tacos, salads, guacamole and more. Avocados are trendy in health and wellness because they’re highly nutritious and provide several health benefits .
When ripe, avocados should yield to gentle pressure when squeezed. Their flesh is prone to browning, so it’s best to peel and cut avocados just before serving or sprinkle the cut slices with lemon or lime juice to control discolouration .
Avocados are rich in fibre, potassium, and vitamins B, C and E. In addition, they hold several plant-based nutrients, including:
- Phytosterols: which have been shown to decrease cholesterol – a risk factor for heart disease.
- Leutin and zeaxanthin: which work as antioxidants and defend healthy cells, especially in the eyes.
But there are many more potential advantages to be gained from consuming avocados:
Aside from being favourably nutritious, avocados are utilised in many other sweet and savoury recipes, making them an useful ingredient to have on hand.
Some suggestions on how to incorporate more avocado into your diet:
- Using it in place of mayonnaise with Greek yoghurt in chicken, egg, salmon and tuna salads.
- Making classic guacamole using ingredients like avocados, onions, lime and cilantro.
- Topping chicken breasts with a salad of tomato and cubed avocado.
- Tossing frozen avocado chunks into smoothies for a dose of healthy fat.
- Topping chilis and soups with sliced avocado.
- Incorporating avocado into salads and grain bowls.
Nutrition support during pregnancy and breastfeeding
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, nutrient requirements like vitamin C, folate and potassium significantly increase.
Folate demands rise significantly during pregnancy, but unfortunately, many pregnant people worldwide fall short of the recommended intake, which may increase the risk of pregnancy complications . One avocado bears 27% of the advised folate intake during pregnancy .
Eating avocados can also help you acquire the recommended intake levels for nutrients needed in more significant amounts during pregnancy and breastfeeding – like vitamin B6, C and potassium. Also, the high fibre content of avocados may help prevent constipation, which is also common during pregnancy.
May help reduce heart disease risk factors
Regular consumption of nutrient-dense foods like avocados could help safeguard against heart disease. The fibre, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals in this food all play a part in keeping the cardiovascular system healthy.
Studies suggest that an avocado-rich diet may help lower heart disease risk factors, which may help avert the onset of heart disease, although some experts suggest that industry involvement in peer-reviewed research could skew results .
Nevertheless, avocados may help increase heart-protective HDL cholesterol and decrease levels of oxidised LDL cholesterol, a type of cholesterol significantly associated with atherosclerosis or plaque buildup along artery walls.
May help maintain healthy body weight
Although multiple factors influence weight, following a nourishing and proportional diet is essential for acquiring and preserving a healthy body weight, a requirement for disease prevention.
Research shows that eating a dietary pattern rich in fibrous foods, like fruits and vegetables, may help weight loss. In addition, people who eat more fibre tend to maintain healthier body weights than those who follow lower fibre diets .
Although avocados are high in calories, they’re loaded with essential nutrients and help stimulate satiety, thanks to their increased fibre and healthy fat content.
Rich source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds
Avocados are filled with bioactive compounds, including carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, and phenolic compounds. These substances have been shown to have effective antioxidant, neuroprotective and cardioprotective activities.
Because avocados are high in antioxidants, regularly consuming them may help increase the body’s antioxidant defences. A small study discovered that eating an avocado a day raised blood levels of the carotenoid lutein above that of a typical Western diet without avocado .
Superior source of nutrients
- Calories: 322
- Carbs: 17 grams
- Fat: 30 grams
- Fibre: 14 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Copper: 42% of the daily value (DV)
- Folate: 41% of the DV
- Niacin (B3): 22% of the DV
- Manganese: 12% of the DV
- Magnesium: 14% of the DV
- Pantothenic acid (B5): 56% of the DV
- Potassium: 21% of the DV
- Pyridoxine (B6): 30% of the DV
- Riboflavin (B2): 20% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 22% DV
- Vitamin E: 28% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 35% of the DV
Avocados also provide essential nutrients for the immune system’s health, including vitamin C, B6 and E. They contain many of the nutrients necessary for optimal health, and regular consumption could help improve overall diet quality.
Valuable for gut health
Avocados are high in fibre, with about 14 grams in every one. That’s nearly half of the recommended daily intake for this critical nutrient. Getting enough fibre in your diet is fundamental for the health of your digestive system because it helps assist the growth of healthy bacteria.
A study found that people who consumed avocado daily for 12 weeks had lower faecal bile acid concentrations and elevated bacterial diversity compared to a control group . Greater bile acid concentrations often lead to intestinal inflammation and are related to the growth of microbes associated with harmful health outcomes like colon cancer.
It’s worth noting that all fibre-containing foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, contribute to good gut health. The most crucial factor in supporting digestive health is eating a variety of fibre-containing foods, not just avocados.
As with all foods, devouring avocados in large quantities is not without risk – overdoing it can lead to undesirable outcomes . Avocados have high fat content, so adding too much to your diet might lead to unintended weight gain.
Avocados are also rich in vitamin K, which can affect how blood thinners work. It is crucial for people taking blood thinners, like warfarin (Coumadin), to keep their vitamin K levels consistent. For this reason, it is not a good idea to suddenly start eating more foods containing vitamin K, which plays a vital role in blood clotting.