Avocados for Good Health

Although they don't taste sweet, avocados are fruits belonging to the berry family. They're also high in fat, which is unusual for fruit. But like other fruits, avocados are rich in nutrients that support good health.

Avocados have been around for more than 2000 years. They are grown year-round in warm climates and one tree can produce from 50 to 200 lbs. of fruit per year. More than 90 percent of commercially grown avocados are produced in California, with avocado groves totaling about 70,000 acres. The popular fruit, also known as the "alligator pear" due to its unique shape and texture, is not only a rich and versatile fruit but offers a plethora of health advantages as well.


Avocados have been in existence at least since the eighth century B.C. Seeds of the Persea Americana were discovered with a mummy in Peru during an archaeological excavation. Avocados have long been touted as an aphrodisiac. The seductive reputation is rooted in the ancient Aztecs' observation that the fruits looked like testicles growing on a tree, giving rise to the idea that avocados increase libido. The fruit was even advertised in the United States as lacking aphrodisiac properties, with the intention of convincing people otherwise by reverse psychology.


The three primary strains of avocado--Mexican, Guatemalan and West Indian--were categorized by Spaniard Bernabe Cobo in the year 1653. Today there are more than 20 varieties of the fruit grown in the United States. Seven of these are grown in California and include the popular Haas, Bacon and Pinkerton varieties.


Avocados are distinct in a couple of ways. Avocados are the only tree fruit which are not sweet, tart or juicy. In addition, avocados do not ripen unless removed from the tree. This means that harvest can be drawn out, and some varieties can be left on the tree for months without negatively affecting the fruits.


Avocados are a wellspring of nutrients and health benefits. They offer a third of the RDA of vitamin C, 63 percent of the RDA of fiber and 8 percent of daily iron. In addition, avocados have a wealth of minerals and dietary amino acids as well as essential omega fatty acids three and six. These are rounded out with 5 grams of healthy protein.

Full of Heart-Healthy Fats: While avocados are high in fat, most of it is unsaturated fat, specifically monounsaturated fat. Half of an avocado contains about 14 grams of fat, 10 grams of which are monounsaturated. For overall good health, most of your dietary fat should come from foods high in unsaturated fat like avocados, according to the American Heart Association.

The association reports that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats may help lower cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. So, instead of cheese, add a few slices of avocado to your sandwich.

Rich in Phytochemicals: It's not just the fat in the avocado that's good for your heart, but the fruit is also rich in phytochemicals. These plant-based nutrients may be the reason people who eat more fruit and vegetables have lower rates of chronic illness.

The carotenoids, which are the most abundant phytochemicals found in avocados, not only protect your heart but may also protect your DNA against damage, which may decrease your rate of aging. Avocados are also one of the richest fruit source of phytosterols, which are nutrients in plants that help lower cholesterol .

Helpful for Weight Control: Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a weight-loss diet because they help fill you up with fewer calories. While avocados are higher in calories than most fruits -- half of an avocado has about 160 calories -- it's still a fairly filling food, according to article published in "Critical Reviews on Food Science and Nutrition."

It's also high in fiber, with about 7 grams in the same serving, which helps you feel full and satisfied. Some preliminary studies show the avocado may help you manage your weight, according to the authors of the article in "Critical Reviews on Food Science and Nutrition."

Reduce Risk of Metabolic Syndrome: Metabolic syndrome is a culmination of symptoms that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. In order to be diagnosed, a person must have three of the five symptoms, which consist of abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, elevated triglycerides and low levels of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" cholesterol. According to a study published in "Nutrition Journal," people who eat more avocados not only enjoy better health overall but are also at a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

Avocados are known to be the fattiest fruit. This reputation earned them a spot on the “not-so-good for the heart” list. However, avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol and heart disease risk.

Avocados also contain several carotenoids such as zeaxantin, lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. Additionally, researchers have recently discovered four more carotenoids in the California Hass Avocado (trans neoxanthin, neochrome, lutein-5, 6-epoxide and chrysanthemaxanthin). A diet rich in carotenoids has been associated with a stronger immune system and enhanced protection form free radicals- chemicals that cause cell damage and may lead to heart disease and cancer. Specifically, avocado intake has been associated with a reduced risk of prostate, breast and oral cancer.

Interestingly, the relatively high fat content of the avocado paired with its high carotenoids content makes it a particularly well suited food to fight disease. Indeed, research demonstrated that the natural fat content in avocados increases carotenoid absorption. Not only does it enhances the absorption of the carotenoids contained in the avocado itself, it also helps that of the carotenoids included in other foods consumed with the avocado. Study participants who ate a salad of lettuce, spinach and carrot containing about 2.5 teaspoon of avocado absorbed 8.3 times more alpha-carotene, 13.6 times more beta-carotene and 4.3 times more lutein, a phytonutrient linked to eye health.

In addition to being an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids and carotenoids, avocados also supply folate, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and fiber.

Ways to Include More Avocados

The creamy rich texture of the avocado lends itself nicely to Mexican dishes, but its use should not be limited to tacos and burritos. Because they have a light, subtle flavor, avocados make a great enhancement to many dishes.

Consider the following ideas:

- Try adding avocado as a garnish or accompaniment to seafood, poultry, sushi or egg dishes.
- Slice it up and add to salads and sandwiches.
- Mash them up and use as a spread on toast, bread, or bagel in place of mayonnaise or cream cheese.
- Use avocado halves as edible bowls and stuff with your favorite filling, from salsa to chicken or seafood salad.


Avocados are used in nearly half of American homes. If your home is not yet one of them, consider trying out easy ways to prepare this delicious and nutritious fruit. Cut the avocados in half lengthwise, around the pit. Scoop out the pit then remove the flesh with a spoon and cut up in a salad, or eat the meat right out of the skin. If the meat is not going to be eaten right away you should drizzle a bit of lemon juice on the surface to avoid discoloration.


  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664913/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3545982/

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  1. This was a well written article and very interesting. I have being eating avocado since I was born, but never knew all the information about it as you provided, thanks so much.