Nutrition, Health & Wellness

The Top 6 Benefits of Eating Avocado (+ Tips for Creative Dishes)

Did you know that one of the healthiest—and tastiest—foods you can eat is a fruit? That’s right—more so than many vegetables, the avocado delivers in nutrients and tons of healthy fats that you need to support your body’s nutritional requirements. For these reasons and more, it’s probably my favorite food to eat. But it’s also a highly versatile food, so even if you don’t love the taste, you can still enjoy all the health benefits of eating avocado! How? Let’s learn all about avocado, the many ways you can eat it (even if you’re not currently a fan), and how it can benefit your health.

 

All About Avocado

Even though it’s green like some vegetables, as I mentioned above, the avocado is actually a fruit. It grows on a tree native to Mexico called the Persea americana. You may be surprised to learn that avocados are technically berries, and each contains a single large seed. This pear-shaped fruit typically has green skin that darkens as it ripens.

While avocados also contain many other nutrients, which we’ll review below, perhaps the most important element is their high concentration of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). On average, an avocado contains about 15 grams of MUFAs.

Now, in case you aren’t familiar with MUFAs, they are a healthy fat that’s been linked to blood sugar regulation, heart health, healthy weight management, and more. In fact, in a study of over 125,000 participants, researchers found that substituting MUFAs for saturated fatty acids (SFAs) actually lowered risk of coronary heart disease by 15 percent. [1]

Considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, this shows just how healthy MUFA-rich foods, such as avocados, can be!

How to Eat an Avocado

When selecting an avocado from your grocery store, try to find one that’s darker in color and has a softer but still somewhat firm feel to it when you press on it. If it’s too soft, it may be rotten; if it’s too firm, it isn’t ripe enough.

When it comes to eating an avocado, you’re likely familiar with sliced avocado on sandwiches or maybe even guacamole if you have a love of Mexican food. Personally, I love to include avocado in as many dishes as possible. I like to serve fresh avocado slides with scrambled eggs in the morning and even on top of salads for lunch. I even have some great ideas for ways you can “sneak” it into certain foods, just in case you aren’t a big fan of its taste.

For example, when mashed, avocado has a great creamy texture, making it a great base for smoothies or dishes like this Chocolate Tart. (This dessert is a huge hit at my house. Sometimes we even just make the filling as a pudding!) You can also use avocado oil to get the same great MUFA benefits! This Sweet Potato Lasagna recipe includes avocado oil among its list of healthy ingredients and is another family favorite of mine.

 

 

6 Health Benefits of Eating Avocado

Now that you know more about the avocado and how to eat it, let’s take a closer look at some of the top health benefits of eating avocado.

1. Contains a rich nutrient profile

In recent years, avocados have become known as a “superfood,” thanks to their many health benefits. Believe it or not, an avocado contains a large variety of the essential micronutrients and phytochemicals (or health-promoting chemical compounds found only in plants) your body needs for optimal function.

When eating an avocado, most people consume about half of the fruit at a time. Anytime you eat half of an avocado, here’s just some what you’re getting in terms of nutrient intake (assuming you’re eating 68 grams’ worth—half of the average avocado size): [2]

  • Fiber: 4.6 g
  • Potassium: 345 mg
  • Sodium: 5.5 mg
  • Magnesium: 19.5 mg
  • Vitamin A: 43 μg
  • Vitamin C: 6 mg
  • Vitamin E: 1.3 mg
  • Vitamin K: 14 μg
  • Folate: 60 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.2 mg
  • Niacin: 1.3 mg
  • Riboflavin: 0.1 mg
  • And so much more!

2. Supports overall nutrient absorption

Avocados can actually help boost your body’s absorption of antioxidants known as carotenoids. Here’s why this matters: Your liver transforms beta-carotene, a type of carotenoid, into vitamin A, which helps both to fight and prevent infections in your body. [3]

Interestingly, a 2014 study researched the connection between beta-carotene absorption and avocado consumption. The researchers found that when participants consumed tomato sauce and carrots (both beta-carotene-rich foods) along with 5 ounces of avocado, their bodies absorbed beta-carotene than when they didn’t eat the avocado. Additionally, eating the avocado actually increased the conversion of beta-carotene into immune-supporting vitamin A! [4]

3. Helps manage stress and anxiety

One of my favorite benefits of eating avocado is its ability to help manage stress and anxiety. As you know, I believe that chronic stress is the root of many of our major health concerns today. Amazingly, avocado is a great natural source of B vitamins, which are known to help combat both stress and anxiety, making it a great food to support whole-body health.

Here’s a look at some of the growing body of research on how B vitamins fight stress. A 2010 study on 215 healthy men revealed that B vitamins helped decrease their stress levels. [5] And a 2014 study showed that consuming B vitamins helped reduce workplace stress by 20 percent! [6]

The takeaway here? If you find yourself feeling a little stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed, consider that your body may be low in B vitamins and reach for an avocado to help give yourself some much-needed relief.

4. Aids digestion

Thanks to its high fiber content, one of the benefits of eating avocado is that it supports your digestion. A whole avocado contains about 10 grams of fiber, which is almost half your daily fiber content! And this fiber includes both soluble and insoluble forms, which are responsible for preventing constipation and gas buildup.

While soluble fiber supports both digestion and blood sugar, insoluble fiber helps to soften stool and prevent it from being too bulky. So, if you find that you’re prone to constipation, it may help to regularly include avocados in your diet.

5. Promotes satiety

Perhaps a more popular health benefit of eating avocado is its impact on hunger, satiety, and snacking habits. The high fat content in avocados make them more filling, which cuts down on the likelihood of overeating or indulging in unhealthy foods.

In fact, a 2019 study looked at this connection more closely. Researchers found that when participants ate either a half or whole avocado with their meals, they reported feeling more satisfied than those who didn’t eat the avocado. Furthermore, those who ate a whole avocado were more satisfied than those who only ate one-half. [7]

This is a great example of why I recommend eating avocado once or twice a day, either in conjunction with your meals or as part of a healthy snack.

6. Supports healthy blood sugar levels

One of the last major benefits of eating avocado is its impact on blood sugar and, more specifically, type 2 diabetes. In the 2019 study mentioned above, the researchers noted that when the participants ate avocado with their meals, their blood sugar levels remained stabilized and their insulin sensitivity improved.

Additionally, other studies have shown that following a MUFA-rich diet can drop fasting blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes by as much as 30 points! [8] When you look at the research behind this amazing fruit, it’s really no wonder why it’s called a superfood, is it?

 

Benefits of eating avocado - Dr. Pingel

 

Key Takeaways

  • Avocado is one of the healthiest—and tastiest—foods you can eat, featuring several nutrients and tons of healthy fats (such as MUFAs) that you need to support your body’s nutritional requirements.
  • If you’re looking to increase your nutrient intake and want to take advantage of the many other benefits of eating avocado, you can include it in sandwiches, on salads, and even hide it in smoothies and desserts!
  • Some of the main benefits of eating avocado include that it supports nutrient absorption, helps manage stress and anxiety, aids digestion, promotes satiety, and supports healthy blood sugar levels.

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