Many people mistake avocados for a vegetable, but they are actually a versatile fruit great for making guacamole, salads, soups, pizzas and sandwiches, as their mild flavor goes with pretty much everything. While they are very nutritious, don't go overboard eating them since they are high in calories.
Eating a serving avocado of is a good way to increase the amount of vitamins and minerals in your diet. Each serving, which is about one-fifth of an avocado, provides you with 6 percent of the daily value for folate; 4 percent of the DV for magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B-6, vitamin C and niacin; and 2 percent of the DV for calcium, riboflavin and thiamine. Folate is important for making DNA and new cells, including red blood cells. If you don't eat enough folate-rich foods during pregnancy, you increase the risk your child might be born with neural-tube defects, so this nutrient is particularly important for women who might become pregnant. Magnesium is needed for metabolism, immune function, keeping your bones strong and keeping your blood sugar and blood pressure levels within the normal range.
One of the main reasons some people limit the amount of avocados they eat is because they contain a relatively high percentage of fat, and the calories can really add up if you aren't careful. Each serving of avocado contains 50 calories, 40 of which come from the 5 grams of fat this serving of avocado contains. A whole avocado contains about 250 calories and 25 grams of fat.
Avocados provide you with 1 gram of fiber per serving, helping you meet the daily value of 25 grams. Fiber helps lower your risk for heart disease, high cholesterol and constipation. They also contain a number of phytochemicals, or plant chemicals, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration, phytosterols, which inhibit cholesterol absorption, and cryptoxanthin, an antioxidant your body can convert to vitamin A.
All but 1 gram of fat per serving in avocados is the healthy unsaturated type, which may lower your risk for high cholesterol, heart disease and high blood sugar levels, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This fat also helps you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in your food. This means avocados are nutritious as long as you take the calories into account and eat them instead of other foods that are higher in fat.
- Nutrient Facts: Avocados, All Commercial Varieties
- Fine Cooking: Avocado
- Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects
- University of Florida Extension: South Florida Tropicals: Avocado
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Avocado Provides "Good" Fat
- Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images