Nutritious, versatile, and delicious, avocados have become a kitchen staple in many homes around the world.

While some people refer to avocados as fruits and some people say they’re a vegetable, avocados (Persea americana) are actually considered berries. They’re a member of the Lauraceae plant family, which also includes the cinnamon tree (1).

Avocados are native to Mexico and Central America, but they are cultivated in many areas of the world, including North America.

In the United States, California is the top producer of avocados and is home to more than 5,000 avocado farms, which generate over 400 million pounds of avocados each year (2).

These fruits are an important part of traditional Mexican, Central American, and South American cuisine and are used in dishes like guacamole, salads, tacos, and more.

Avocados are extremely popular in the health and wellness world because they’re highly nutritious and have been linked to several health benefits.

This article lists 7 benefits of eating avocados, including more about nutrition, weight loss, and how to enjoy them.

carving out half of an avocado, slicedShare on Pinterest
Photography by Aya Brackett

Avocados are high in a number of important nutrients, many of which are lacking in modern diets.

Here is the nutrition breakdown for a 7-ounce (201-gram) avocado (3):

  • Calories: 322
  • Fat: 30 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Carbs: 17 grams
  • Fiber: 14 grams
  • Vitamin C: 22% of the daily value (DV)
  • Vitamin E: 28% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 35% of the DV
  • Riboflavin (B2): 20% of the DV
  • Niacin (B3): 22% of the DV
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 56% of the DV
  • Pyridoxine (B6): 30% of the DV
  • Folate: 41% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 14% of the DV
  • Potassium: 21% of the DV
  • Copper: 42% of the DV
  • Manganese: 12% of the DV

As you can see, avocados are exceptionally nutritious fruits and are a concentrated source of healthy fats and fiber, plus a number of vitamins and minerals.

They’re rich in nutrients that are often lacking in many people’s diets, including magnesium, B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate (4).

For example, half of an avocado packs 10% of the DV for potassium.

Potassium is considered a “nutrient of public health concern” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is because it’s a mineral that Americans commonly do not consume enough of (5).

In fact, a study that included data on 4,730 U.S. adults found that fewer than 3% had potassium intakes greater than the set adequate intake for potassium of 4,700 mg per day (6).

Potassium is needed for several critical bodily functions, including blood pressure regulation and nervous system function. Getting the recommended amount of potassium on a daily basis may help protect against hypertension and stroke (7, 8).

Avocados also provide nutrients that are essential for the health of the immune system, including vitamin C, B6, and E (9, 10).

Half of an avocado provides 15% of your daily needs for B6, a nutrient that helps suppress inflammation and protect against oxidative damage. Inadequate B6 intake may negatively impact immune function and increase susceptibility to illness (9, 11, 12).

While severe B6 deficiency is rare, having suboptimal or slightly deficient levels is more common, even in the United States and Canada (13).

Avocados contain an abundance of nutrients that are essential for optimal health, and regularly consuming avocados could help improve overall diet quality.

Summary

Avocados are rich in many nutrients, including fiber, healthy fats, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, and folate. Enjoying them regularly could help improve overall diet quality.

Avocados are high in fiber, providing about 14 grams in each avocado. That’s nearly half of the current DV for this important nutrient (3).

Getting enough fiber in your diet is essential for the health of the digestive system because it helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria.

A study with 163 adults considered overweight found that people who consumed 175 grams (men) or 140 grams (women) of avocado daily for 12 weeks had lower fecal bile acid concentrations and increased bacterial diversity compared to a control group (14).

Greater bile acid concentrations induce intestinal inflammation and are related to the growth of microbes associated with negative health outcomes like colon cancer (15).

Additionally, the avocado group had more of the bacteria Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, and Alistipes, all of which produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), including butyrate.

SFCAs help fuel colon cells and protect against diseases like colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease (16, 17, 18).

Even though these findings are promising, this study was partially funded by the Hass Avocado Board, which could have influenced study results.

Also, keep in mind that all fiber-containing foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, are important for gut health. The most important factor in supporting digestive health is eating a variety of fiber-containing foods, not just avocados.

Summary

Avocados are rich in fiber, which is essential for a healthy digestive system. Some evidence suggests that consuming avocados may benefit the health of the gut by improving bacterial diversity and reducing fecal bile acid concentration.

Regularly consuming nutrient-dense foods like avocados could help protect against heart disease.

The vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and fiber found in avocados all play a role in keeping the cardiovascular system healthy.

Study findings suggest that an avocado-rich diet may help improve heart disease risk factors, which may help prevent the onset of heart disease.

Many studies investigating the effects of avocados on heart health were funded by the Hass Avocado Board. Even though this doesn’t discredit study findings, some experts suggest that industry involvement in peer-reviewed research could skew results (19).

Nonetheless, avocados may help increase heart-protective HDL cholesterol and decrease levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, a type of cholesterol that’s significantly associated with atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque along artery walls (20, 21).

Additionally, the high potassium and magnesium content of avocados is beneficial for blood pressure regulation. Keeping blood pressure at a healthy level is critical for heart disease prevention (22).

Summary

Avocados may help increase levels of heart-protective HDL cholesterol and decrease levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol, a type of cholesterol that’s significantly associated with atherosclerosis, or the accumulation of plaque along artery walls

In addition to vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and fiber, avocados are packed with bioactive compounds including carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, and phenolic compounds (23).

These substances have been shown to have significant antioxidant, neuroprotective, and cardioprotective activities.

For example, carotenoids found in avocados including lutein, α-Carotene, and β-Carotene have been shown to have strong antioxidant effects, protecting against oxidative damage, which is associated with the progression of many chronic diseases (24).

Because avocados are high in antioxidants, regularly eating avocados may help increase the body’s antioxidant defenses.

A small study that included 45 people found that eating an avocado a day increased blood levels of the carotenoid lutein compared with a typical Western diet without avocado (20).

What’s more, having greater dietary intake and higher blood levels of antioxidants contained within avocados, like vitamin C and carotenoids, has been associated with better cognitive function, improved heart health, and more (25, 26, 27, 28, 29).

Summary

Avocados are an excellent source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds like vitamin C, vitamin E, and the carotenoid lutein.

Although there are multiple factors that influence weight, following a nutritious and balanced diet is perhaps most important when it comes to reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight, which is critical for disease prevention.

Although avocados are high in calories, they’re packed with nutrients and help promote satiety, thanks to their high fiber and healthy fat content.

Research shows that following a dietary pattern rich in fibrous foods, like fruits and vegetables, may help support weight loss. Plus, people who eat more fiber tend to maintain healthier body weights compared to those who follow lower fiber diets (30, 31).

In a study that included 345 people, it was found that fiber intake was the most influential predictor of body weight, independent of calorie and macronutrient intake (32).

Plus, a number of studies have associated avocado intake with weight loss, improved satiety, and decreased abdominal fat (33, 34, 35).

However, nearly all studies investigating the effects of avocado consumption on weight loss are funded by the Hass Avocado Board. Again, although this doesn’t discredit study results, food industry funding may influence study outcomes.

Regardless, it’s clear that increasing foods rich in dietary fiber likely promotes weight loss by promoting satiety. So, eating more high-fiber foods, like avocados, may be a good choice for those wishing to promote weight loss or maintain body weight.

Summary

Following a diet high in fiber has been associated with body weight maintenance. Some studies suggest that avocados may help improve satiety, enhance weight loss, and reduce belly fat. However, many of these studies are funded by the Hass Avocado Board, which may have influenced study results.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, nutrient demands significantly increase.

For example, during pregnancy (36):

  • Folate requirements increase from 400 μg to 600 μg.
  • Potassium needs jump from 2,600 mg to 2,900 mg.
  • Vitamin C needs increase from 75 to 85 mg.

Folate needs increase significantly during pregnancy. Unfortunately, many pregnant people around the world fall short of the recommended folate intake, which may increase the risk of pregnancy complications (37, 38, 39).

One avocado delivers 27% of the recommended folate intake during pregnancy (3).

Eating avocados can also help you reach the recommended intake levels for nutrients that are needed in greater amounts during pregnancy and breastfeeding, like vitamin C, potassium, and B6.

Additionally, the high fiber content of avocados may help prevent constipation, which is extremely common during pregnancy (40).

For a satisfying pregnancy- and breastfeeding-friendly meal or snack idea, try stuffing half an avocado with salmon salad or chicken salad.

Summary

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, your need for many nutrients significantly increases. Enjoying avocados is a smart way to get enough of certain vitamins and minerals like folate, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.

In addition to being highly nutritious, avocados can be used in a number of recipes, both sweet and savory. This makes them a smart ingredient to have on hand.

Here are some ideas for how to incorporate more avocado into your diet:

  • Use avocado in place of mayo with Greek yogurt in chicken, salmon, egg, and tuna salads.
  • Make a classic guacamole using ingredients like avocados, onions, lime, and cilantro.
  • Top chicken breasts with a salad of tomato and cubed avocado.
  • Toss frozen avocado chunks into smoothies for a source of healthy fat.
  • Top chilis and soups with sliced avocado.
  • Incorporate avocado into salads and grain bowls.
  • Whip up a dairy-free avocado chocolate mousse.
  • Bread avocados and bake them for a crispy treat.
  • Pair half an avocado with eggs and berries for a filling breakfast.
  • Smash avocado on top of toast or a half roasted sweet potato.
  • Stuff avocados with chicken salad or bean salad.
  • Use avocados in tacos and burritos.
  • Blend avocado with olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings for a quick and easy creamy dressing.
  • Top your favorite burger with sliced avocado.
  • Sprinkle an avocado half with a bit of coarse salt and pepper and enjoy it right out of the rind.

There are so many ways to use avocados, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

If you’re looking for a way to keep your avocados as fresh as possible, place ripe avocados in the refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy them.

If your avocado is still hard and green, let it sit on your counter for several days to ripen.

Ripe avocados are slightly soft to the touch and usually have a deep green color. If your avocado is very mushy and dents when poked, it’s likely past its prime.

However, even overripe avocados can be incorporated into recipes like baked goods and dressings, so don’t toss them unless they have a sour taste or smell, are moldy, or if the flash is extremely discolored.

Summary

Avocados can be incorporated into both sweet and savory recipes like smoothies, desserts, soups, salads, and burritos. They can also be enjoyed on their own with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Avocados contain an impressive amount of nutrients and are especially rich in fiber, B6, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin E, folate, and copper.

Eating avocados regularly may benefit health in several ways, including protecting against heart disease, improving overall diet quality, improving satiety, and promoting gut health.

Plus, they’re versatile and delicious.

Just one thing

Try this today: To give smoothies a creamy texture, I love adding a few chunks of fresh or frozen avocado to my blender. Avocado has a mild taste that pairs well with most smoothie ingredients. I love making green smoothies with kale, avocado, cucumber, lemon, ginger, parsley, and grapefruit juice.