Although it’s commonly considered a vegetable, the avocado is actually a tropical fruit native to Central and South America. Of the dozens of cultivated varieties, the small, oval-shaped California Haas is by far the most widely consumed avocado in the United States. The larger, pear-shaped Florida avocado is also commonly available. While all varieties are rich in several important nutrients, avocados aren’t a significant source of iron.
Half of a California avocado contains about 114 calories and 0.42 milligrams of iron, an amount equivalent to 2 percent of the daily value for iron. Because pureed avocado is more concentrated by volume than the whole fruit, 1 cup of pureed California avocado provides 384 calories and 8 percent of the daily value for iron. Half of a Florida avocado contains approximately 183 calories and just 0.26 milligrams of iron, or 1 percent of the nutrient’s daily value, while a 1-cup serving of pureed Florida avocado supplies 276 calories and 2 percent of the daily value for iron, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sets the daily value for iron at 18 milligrams. A nutrient’s daily value is used to determine if a single serving of a food is a good source of that nutrient. To qualify as high in iron, a food must provide 20 percent or more of the daily value for iron in a single serving. To qualify as a good source of iron, it must supply 10 percent to 19 percent of the nutrient’s daily value per serving. Foods containing 5 percent or less of the daily value of iron are considered low in iron. By daily value standards, neither Florida nor California avocados are good sources of iron.
Individual iron needs vary, however, and are generally based on age, gender and pregnancy. The recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for iron for women past the age of 50 and men of all ages is 8 milligrams per day. Through the age of 50, women should get 18 milligrams of iron each day, while pregnant women need 27 milligrams a day. Although avocados remain an insignificant source of iron by RDA standards, the amount they contribute is slightly more significant for those with lower iron requirements. The amount of iron in half a California avocado, for example, is equivalent to 5 percent of the RDA for iron for men and postmenopausal women.
Avocados are an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, potassium and vitamins E and C. Their vitamin C content promotes the absorption of nonheme iron, which is the type found in egg yolks and plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. Accordingly, serving avocado with foods containing nonheme iron helps your body absorb more iron than it would otherwise. Florida avocados are especially high in vitamin C -- half a fruit supplies 44 percent of the nutrient’s daily value. California avocados are a good source of vitamin C, providing 10 percent of the daily value per half fruit. Boost your iron intake by topping a whole-egg omelet or a bowl of three-bean chili with fresh avocado slices.
- Colorado State University Extension: Iron: An Essential Nutrient
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Avocados, Raw, California
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Avocados, Raw, Florida
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients
- American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide; Roberta Larson Duyff, M.S., R.D.
- Wellness Foods A to Z; Sheldon Margen, M.D., et al.
- Encyclopedia of Healing Foods; Michael Murray, N.D., et al.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images