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It's no secret that we've all become pretty obsessed with avocados. Exhibit A: Tufts University scientists practically broke the internet when they announced that they were seeking people to eat an avocado each day as part of a six-month health study—and willing to pay them $300 for their trouble. Exhibit B: The average person downs more than 7 pounds of avocados each year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). That's more than a 400 percent increase in popularity compared to two decades ago.
Since fruits and vegetables don't come with labels, few of the avo-obsessed are aware of the complete avocado nutrition facts. But lucky for us, avocados love us back: "Avocados are one of the most complete foods you can eat," says Kris Sollid, R.D., a registered dietitian and senior director of nutrition communications for the International Food Information Council.
"Many people think of avocados only for their healthy fat content, but they boast a ton of other nutritious benefits," says Jenna A. Werner, R.D., creator of Happy Slim Healthy. "Avocados provide nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, and are a good source of fiber, which many don't realize."
Discover the nutritional value of avocado, plus get prep tips and inspiration about how to add more of the silky superfood to your diet.
Avocado Nutrition Facts
First things first: One serving is not an entire avocado (or even half of one). "One serving of an avocado is a third of a medium-sized avocado, which is about 80 calories," says Christy Brissette, a registered dietitian and the founder of 80 Twenty Nutrition. "I usually eat half at a meal and some of my clients eat the whole avocado based on their goals."
Here is the avocado nutritional information for one serving, per the USDA nutrient database:
The nutritional value of avocado changes quite a bit when you're smashing. Estimate that each half-cup has a little more than two standard servings.
The avocado nutritional information per half-cup of mashed or puréed avocado:
The Health Benefits of Avocados
Compared to those who ate a low-fat, high-carb meal with the same calories, overweight or obese adults who consumed a half or whole avocado with their meal showed fewer signs of inflammation and improved markers of heart health, according to a recent study published in the journal Nutrients. And adding one avocado each day to a moderate-fat diet was linked to lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
"Avocados are a nutrient-dense food, meaning they give you a lot of health bang for your buck. The majority of the fat is heart-healthy monounsaturated, and they're naturally sodium-free," says Werner.
Discover many more health benefits of avocado, courtesy of Brissette:
Amount per serving: 5 grams
More than 75 percent of the fats in avocados are unsaturated. Also known as omega-9s, these fats are the same type found in olive oil. Eating more monounsaturated fats might crank up the number of calories your body burns at rest.
Amount per serving: 3 grams
Fiber helps you feel full—a boon for those aiming to maintain or lose weight. (Check out three additional beneficial reasons to fuel up with more fiber.)
Amount per serving: 240 milligrams
One serving of avocado scores you 6 percent of your daily quota of potassium, an important mineral that plays a key role in proper muscle function.
Amount per serving: 40 micrograms
Beyond promoting healthy red blood cells and sharp brain function, this B vitamin reduces the risk of premature births and birth defects (making it especially beneficial for women of childbearing age).
Amount per serving: 1 milligram
Keep colds at bay with a few slices of avocado. Vitamin E helps the immune system fight off viruses and bacteria that make you sick.
Amount per serving: 0.7 milligrams
Boost energy—no caffeine required. Pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5, aids in the conversion of food into energy and plays a role in cholesterol and hormone production.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Amount per serving: 136 micrograms per serving
Avocados are one of the best produce sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that support eye health and may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
How Much Avocado Should You Eat?
Yes, there can be too much of a good thing. Even considering the all-star panel of avocado nutrition facts.
"If you're crowding out other foods by eating a certain food—even the most nutritious one—so much, that can be unwise," says Brissette. "Variety is key to a healthy diet, so if avocados are your only fat source, you're missing out on different health benefits from nuts and seeds, fatty fish, and olive oil."
The biggest detail to devote attention to, suggests Werner: portion size.
"Portion depends on your nutrition goals. Eating healthy in general can be very different than eating healthy for a specific goal, such as weight loss or weight gain. Knowing your goal can help you find the proper portion and cadence of consumption for you," says Werner.
One serving (again, one-third of a medium-size fruit) a few times each week as part of your total calorie quota should be a safe place to start.
The TL;DR summary: "If you're eating an avocado every day and choosing a variety of other healthy foods, great!" says Brissette. "Do you want to add an entire avocado to every meal? Probably not, unless you're trying to gain weight and want to boost calories."
How to Prep and Use Avocados
Now that you have the full rundown on the nutritional value of avocado, it's time to slice and serve the superfruit.
After you've selected a perfectly ripe avocado, use these five tips and tricks to prep and store smartly:
Now try these expert- and editor-approved ways to use it (beyond avocado toast):
- 80 calories
- 7 grams fat
- 1 gram protein
- 4 grams carbohydrate
- 3 grams fiber
- 184 calories
- 17 grams fat
- 2 1/2 grams protein
- 10 grams carbohydrate
- 8 grams fiber
- Rinse it. "Even though you don't eat the outside of the avocado, remember to wash it before you cut it! Just like any fruit that you slice any dirt, germs or bacteria on the outside can be brought inside by the knife you're using," says Werner. To further convince you, a recent update on an investigation by the FDA reported that over 17 percent of avocado skin samples tested positive for listeria, so you really shouldn't skip this step.
- Slice smartly. Avoid "avocado hand" or a Meryl Streep–style avocado injury by prepping like a pro. Slice all the way around the length of the fruit and twist to separate the halves. Carefully but forcefully land the blade in the center of the pit, and twist the fruit to remove, says Morgan Bolling, senior editor at Cook's Country Magazine.
- Splash it with citrus. To maintain that fresh green color a little longer after cutting, squeeze on some lemon or lime juice, suggests Sollid. "Acidic juices like these help slow the browning process. Then cover it with clear plastic wrap and make sure to get a good tight seal. Oxygen speeds up the browning process, so for an extra layer of protection you can place your wrapped avocado in an airtight container," he says.
- Soak it in a bowl. "Store avocado halves cut-side down in a bowl of lemon water. As long as the cut side is coated in this water, it should keep it from turning brown for two days. You only need 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice for 2 cups of water," says Bolling.
- Vacuum-seal it. "Vacuum-sealing leftover halves of avocados will keep them green much longer than pretty much any other method," Bolling says, since oxygen exposure triggers the browning.
- Use avocado instead of mayonnaise in egg salad or chicken salad.
- Substitute avocado for butter in baked goods.
- Thicken smoothies with frozen or fresh avocado.
- Grill and stuff avocado halves with corn and bean salsa.
- Thinly slice and spiral avocado pieces into a showy rose-shaped centerpiece.
- Disguise avocado in lime cheesecake filling.
- Blend avocado into margaritas.