16 September 10 Avocado Nutrition

Most of us think of avocado as a vegetable, but it is actually a fruit. However, unlike most fruits, avocado is very low in carbohydrates and very high in fat. The fat is responsible for the avocado's luscious texture. In addition, avocado fat is composed of mostly monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) – the extremely heart-healthy type also found in olive oil. And like all plant fats, there is no cholesterol in avocado.

If you eat an entire avocado, you get a whopping 320 calories and 28 grams of total fat. Although most of that fat is heart-healthy, it is still highly caloric. What most of us do is add avocado to our diet without decreasing other fats. A better strategy would be to simply replace some of our less healthy fats (e.g. solid animal fats and partially-hydrogenated oils) with avocado.

Think of avocado as a healthy fat rather than a fruit - it will help you portion control. Try using 1/4 whole avocado for sandwiches or as a salad topper. With that serving size, you get:

80 calories

4 g total carbohydrates (3 g dietary fiber)

7 g total fat (5 g MUFAs, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 1 g saturated fat)

1 g protein

In addition to healthy fats, avocados provide vitamins and minerals. One-quarter whole avocado contains over 10% of our RDA for copper, pantothenic acid, folate, and vitamin K. See below for a brief description of why those nutrients are important.

Copper - Mineral. Needed (along with iron) to form red blood cells, and for healthy blood vessels, bones, nerves, and immunity. High zinc intake (e.g. in supplements) can decrease copper absorption but deficiency is rare.

Folate - Water-soluble vitamin. Needed for protein metabolism, to form red blood cells and DNA. Adequate folate intake during pregnancy is critical to reduce risk of spina bifida (neural tube defect).

Pantothenic acid - Water-soluble vitamin. Needed for fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism, and growth.

Vitamin K - Fat-soluble vitamin. Needed for proper blood clotting. Intake of Vitamin K foods has to be controlled if you take a blood thinner.

What about guacamole? There are other ingredients in guacamole that make it a less concentrated form of calories than if you simply mashed up avocado. Make it yourself and save money! Here is a recipe for guacamole from Cooking Light you can try.

You don't need to eat guacamole with chips. Cut out the 140 calories from chips (about 12-15 chips) and use fresh veggies instead. Also try guacamole instead of mayo on sandwiches – it has about 1/3 the calories of regular mayo.

Want more recipes and basic information about avocados grown in the U.S.? Check out: http://www.avocado.org/

And remember - a little goes a long way. You can get too much of a good thing if you are not mindful of portion size.

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Foods & Recipes/Fruit & Vegetables Nutrients/Other Vitamins & Minerals

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