What Are Avocados?

You probably see avocados all the time at the grocery store or on your Instagram feed – but what exactly are they? Avocados are native to Mexico and Central America, but are commonly cultivated in tropical climates all over the world. Though they are often mistaken for a vegetable, avocados are actually just giant berries with one inedible seed in the middle. Not only are avocados versatile and can enhance many foods, but they also have high nutritional and health value. Here are just a few ways avocados can benefit your health and your taste buds.

Avocado Nutrition Facts

Avocados are chock full of nutrients. It's no wonder why they consistently top the lists of foods you should add to your diet. Here are just a few of the most essential nutrients you will benefit from when eating avocados.

Vitamin K

Avocados contain 26% of your daily value for vitamin K, which helps blood clot and prevents excessive bleeding.

Vitamin C

Avocados contain 17% of your daily value for vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron and promotes bone, skin, and tissue health.

Vitamin E

Avocados contain 10% of your daily value for vitamin E, which helps the body dissolve fat.

Vitamin B5

Avocados contain 14% of your daily value for vitamin B5 (also known as pantothenic acid), which help the body properly use carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids as well as promote healthy skin.

Vitamin B6

Avocados contain 13% of your daily value for vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxine), which has a ton of uses ranging from boosting immune system to preventing anemia to treating PMS symptoms to overcoming nausea.

Folate

Avocados contain 20% of your daily value for folate (another B vitamin), which helps make red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, produce DNA, and convert carbs into energy.

Potassium

Avocados contain 14% of your daily value for potassium, which helps the nervous system function properly and aids in muscle contraction. Potassium also helps transfer nutrients into cells and transfer waste out of cells.

an avocado split in two

Avocado Health Benefits

Keeps The Heart Healthy

Avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fats. According to the American Heart Association, our bad cholesterol (LDL) levels are reduced when we eat these types of fats in moderation.

Help With Weight Loss

You wouldn't think it, but eating monounsaturated fats in avocados have been linked to increasing the rate at which body fat and calories are burned and reducing the appetite and desire to eat after a meal. One study found that rats that were avocado pulp with the fat removed ate less food and gained less weight than a control group of rats that ate normally.

Promote Good Vision

Step aside, carrots. The avocado is our new eye-friendly food. Avocados contain two phytochemicals, lutein and zeaxanthin, that support tissues in the eyes that help minimize damage from ultraviolet light.

Lower Risk of Depression

Not only have there been studies that link eating monounsaturated fats with a reduction in depression symptoms, but folate has been shown to aid dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain.

Promote Bone Health

Studies have shown that avocados help patients who suffer from osteoarthritis because they have such a vitamin percentage.

Potential Health Risks

Even though avocados are generally a pretty healthy food, all foods pose some kind of risk if eaten too much. Here are some health risks to consider before indulging in more guac.

High In Fat And Calories

Even though the fats in avocados are healthy, they are still fats. They are good for you, but only in moderation. Plus one cup of avocado contains 234 calories - if you're adding that to toast with egg, cheese, peppers, and who knows what else, those calories are really going to start stacking up.

Other Risks

Foods containing tyramine, which avocados produce when they are overripe, can sometimes trigger people who suffer from migraines. If you fall into this category, it might be best to skip out on avocados or eat them in severe moderation. Avocados also share some of the same allergens found in latex, so if you have a latex allergy, you should be careful when eating avocados.

four slices of avocado toast with egg, sesame seeds, and cayenne pepper

How To Incorporate Avocados Into Your Diet

Now that we know all the ways avocados can benefit our health, here are all the ways we can add them to our diets.

Avocado Friendly Diets

Avocados sometimes get a bad rep for being high in fat. However, what some people fail to forget is that avocados are mostly high in monounsaturated fat in the form of oleic acid, which is the same beneficial fatty acid that is found in olive oil. This type of fat is actually quite healthy for the body, so long that it is consumed along with balanced diet. People who follow a keto diet or low carb diet like avocados because they are full of healthy fats that are good for the heart and help burn body fat.

Preparing Avocados

Before you even start slicing your avocado, you want to make sure that it's ripe. Nothing's worse than cutting into an avocado and realizing it's not ready to be eaten yet. Check out our guide on how to tell if you avocado is ripe.

Once you've confirmed that your avocado is ripe enough to eat, slice the avocado in half vertically and remove the pit. Next, slice the avocado inside the skin by taking your knife and slice either vertically, horizontally, cubed, cross-hatched, or whatever way suits your fancy - just make sure you don't pierce the skin of the avocado. After you've sliced, scoop out the avocado slices with spoon. Now your avocado is ready to eat with just a dash of salt and pepper or to be garnished with your favorite foods.

Recipes With Avocado

Because of their versatility, you can find avocados in many recipes. Whether they're the main event or a substitution for something less healthy, there's an avocado based recipe for everyone. Here are our favorites:

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