10 Health Benefits of Avocados | The Ultimate Superfood
Avocados are native to Mexico, but this rich, creamy, buttery, multi-purpose fruit has taken the world by storm—and for good reason. They’re deliciously adaptable to both sweet and savory dishes, and there are so many important health benefits of avocados.
The Ultimate Super Food
Avocados provide at least 20 different nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber, along with a nice, healthy mix of fat, carbs, and even some protein. They also fit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) definition of a “healthy” food because of the beneficial type of fats they contain.
They’re frequently referred to as a superfood because, ounce for ounce, they’re incredibly nutrient-dense. The nutrition they pack, along with the health benefits of avocados, make this one fruit everyone should get to know better and include in their diet on a regular basis.
The Health Benefits of Avocados
Here are 10 health benefits of avocados, and lots of good reasons to add more of them to your diet.
1. They’re packed with healthy fats
Avocados are an unusual fruit because they’re low in carbs and high in fat. They’re especially rich in monounsaturated fat—the same kind that’s in heart-healthy olive oil. A 100-gram serving (about 2/3 cup) has 160 calories, 2 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbs, and 15 grams of fat. Most importantly, 10 grams of the fat is monounsaturated, and 2 grams is polyunsaturated.
Both of these fats are associated with health benefits like improved cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of heart disease. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends eating mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats for good health.
2. They’re a good source of potassium and are nearly sodium-free
If you’re watching salt for your blood pressure, avocados are an excellent choice of low-sodium nutrition. That 100-gram serving has only 7 grams of sodium, but it’s a good source of potassium. The potassium in avocados helps to counter sodium levels and reduce your blood pressure.
3. They can raise your HDL (good) cholesterol
An analysis of studies on nearly 500 people found that eating more avocados can help increase your HDL levels. HDL is the good cholesterol that removes LDL (bad) cholesterol from your arteries and reduces your risk of heart disease.
4. They have a favorable effect on LDL (bad) cholesterol
When it comes to cholesterol and heart disease risk, it’s helpful to know what your LDL cholesterol level is. However, it’s also important to look at the size of your LDL particles because they tell more of the story.
Large-size LDL particles are less harmful because they’re not as likely to form plaques in your blood vessels. On the other hand, lots of small, dense LDL particles can be dangerous. They’re the type that collect in your arteries and form plaques that contribute to heart disease. So, while lower LDL is better overall, if you have a high LDL, it’s important to look at the big picture.
Avocado eaters not only have lower LDL cholesterol but also have fewer of the harmful, small LDL particles. It’s a very important health benefit of avocados, and a major reason they’re considered a heart-healthy food.
5. They help improve your feeling of fullness
When you feel full and satisfied after a meal, you’re less likely to snack and more likely to control your eating in between meals. Avocados might be just the tool you need to help you feel more satisfied. A small study on 39 people found that, after eating a breakfast meal that replaced carbs with a whole avocado, but without changing any calories, people felt fuller and more satisfied. Avocado’s satiating properties are probably linked to their high-fat content and the extra fiber boost they provide.
6. Avocado eaters tend to have a healthier weight
In the Adventist Health Study, a very large long-term study on 55,000 people, researchers found that those who ate avocados at the start of the study tended to have a lower weight and healthier body mass index (BMI). At follow-up, which was between four and 11 years later, avocado eaters gained significantly less weight than those who didn’t eat avocados, and they had a lower BMI.
7. They’re a good source of lutein, which is linked with brain and eye health
Lutein is one of the carotenoid compounds related to beta-carotene. It’s a powerful antioxidant that’s linked to brain and eye health. Studies have shown that certain lutein-rich foods, like avocados, help boost the compound’s levels in the retina of the eye and also in the brain. In middle-aged and older adults, those higher levels of lutein are associated with better cognitive function and a reduced risk of late age-related macular degeneration.
8. They have a low glycemic index
High-glycemic foods tend to spike your blood sugar. On the other hand, foods with a low glycemic index have less of an impact on your blood sugar, because their carbohydrate is digested and released into your bloodstream more slowly. Avocados are very blood sugar friendly, especially when they’re used to replace foods that have more refined carbs. When compared to a meal without an avocado, one study found that adding one half of an avocado to lunch resulted in much lower insulin levels afterward.
9. They’re a good source of fiber
You might not associate the smooth creaminess of avocados with fiber, but they’re actually quite a good source of it. They can help you to meet your fiber goal, which is about 25 grams for women, and 35 grams for men. Ideally, you should aim for 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you eat.
One whole, medium-sized avocado (150 grams) has a whopping 9 grams of fiber, so enjoy the high fiber health benefit of avocados by adding some to your sandwich or salad.
10. Their healthy fats can help you absorb more vitamins
The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, and the carotene antioxidants from beta-carotene all need some fat to be absorbed and work in your body. A big health benefit of avocados is that they happen to have that fat, and they also taste great with foods like salsa, eggs, pumpkin seeds, and leafy greens, which are all great sources of those fat-soluble vitamins.
One study looked at the change in antioxidant absorption after adding avocado or avocado oil to either salsa or salad. Researchers found that adding one half or a whole avocado or 24 grams of avocado oil significantly increased the amounts of antioxidants absorbed into the blood — in some cases by as much as 17 times.
The Bottom Line
Avocados are a tasty treat, and this list is just a few of the impressive health benefits of avocados. Adding them to your diet can improve the health of almost every part of your body.
Even though they’re high in fat, they’re very heart-healthy. They’re also packed with fiber and many vitamins and minerals, so it’s safe to eat some every day if you enjoy them.
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Avocado, raw. Food Data Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/341528/nutrients
Monounsaturated fat. American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/monounsaturated-fats
Avocado consumption and risk factors for heart disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29635493
Effect of a Moderate Fat Diet With and Without Avocados on Lipoprotein Particle Number, Size and Subclasses in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4330060/
Using the avocado to test the satiety effects of a fat-fiber combination in place of carbohydrate energy in a breakfast meal in overweight and obese men and women: a randomized clinical trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6567160/
Avocado Intake, and Longitudinal Weight and Body Mass Index Changes in an Adult Cohort. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6471050/
Avocado Consumption Increases Macular Pigment Density in Older Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622679/
Lutein and zeaxanthin intake and the risk of age-related macular degeneration: a systematic review and meta-analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21899805
A randomized 3x3 crossover study to evaluate the effect of Hass avocado intake on post-ingestive satiety, glucose and insulin levels, and subsequent energy intake in overweight adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4222592/
Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15735074