You might feel like you see avocados everywhere, but there’s good reason for that – they are good for you. UnityPoint Health dietitian, Krista Kohls, says avocados have become more popular in the shift away from fat-free eating. People now know that healthy fats can help keep our bodies and hearts strong. Kohls explains avocado health benefits and why you should keep the green fruit in your kitchen.
What are Heart-Healthy Avocado Health Benefits?
Kohls says the type of fat in avocados is monounsaturated fats.
“The fat in avocado is liquid at room temperature. This is evident if you have ever seen avocado oil on store shelves. That’s a sign it’s made up of unsaturated fats,” Kohls says.
Monounsaturated fats are shown to improve heart health by lowering “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) when eaten in moderation and when used to replace saturated and trans fat in diets.
“The fruit can also make improvement in a specific kind of LDL cholesterol, referred to as small, dense LDL,” Kohls says. “It is the type of cholesterol thought to be the most dangerous.”
Kohls also cites an American Heart Association (AHA) study that found eating an avocado a day may improve the ratio of LDL (bad) to HDL (good) cholesterol.
Should I Eat an Avocado Every Day?
Kohls says the AHA study would support healthy people eating an avocado each day. However, she points out that’s a lot of avocados.
“The message should be include avocados more often in your eating plan, and if you eat avocados in place of saturated fats, like sour cream, cheese and butter, you could help your heart as well as your belly,” Kohls says.
What are the Additional Benefits of Avocados?
Avocados also contain lots of vitamins and minerals, including:
- Potassium. This is good for blood pressure control.
- Vitamin E and vitamin C. These are antioxidants that can help prevent cancer.
- B vitamins. These give us energy.
“You can add fiber to the list of avocado health benefits. Fiber, along with the avocado’s fat content, helps us feel fuller, longer and more satisfied,” Kohls says.
How Many Calories are in an Avocado?
- Small/medium avocado. On average, it’ll have 250 calories and is about the size of a small apple.
- Large avocado. Usually adds up to about 350 calories and is about the size of an average sweet potato.
- Teeny, tiny avocado. Kohls says some stores recently started selling these, and they are about 150 calories and roughly the size of a lime.
How Should I Pick an Avocado?
Kohls says try testing the stem area of the fruit.
“The best way to tell if an avocado is ripe is to slightly push the remaining stem, or the hole where the stem used to be. If the stem doesn’t move, then the avocado needs a couple days to ripen. But, if the stem goes in slightly then it’s ripe. This prevents too much squeezing of the actual fruit,” Kohls says.
Like apples, there are also different kinds of avocadoes. Hass is just one type, which has high oil content giving it a rich, buttery texture and flavor. Mexicana avocadoes are usually less expensive and have a lighter taste.
No matter what type of avocado you buy, you’ll reap the avocado health benefits.
“I say eating good food is worth the investment for your health in the long run. So, yes, splurging on avocados is worth it,” Kohls says.
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