Avocados are an incredibly healthy food full of nutrients and heart-healthy fats. Eating them regularly can provide numerous health benefits from improving heart health to fighting cancer. Keep reading to learn more about the many research-backed ways avocados can boost your health.
Avocados have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. These green fruits have a very impressive nutritional profile and provide a wide range of health benefits. Avocados are packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals and various beneficial plant compounds.
Consuming avocados, especially as part of a balanced diet, may support heart health, eye health, digestion and more. Avocados are very versatile and can be enjoyed in many dishes from guacamole to smoothies.
If you want to take advantage of the many health perks avocados have to offer, consider adding more of them into your diet. This article will cover the nutrition facts, scientific research and potential health benefits of avocados.
Avocados have an exceptionally nutrient-dense profile compared to other fruits and vegetables. Here are some of the ways these green superfoods deliver key nutrients:
Unlike most fruits, avocados are high in healthy fats rather than carbs. In particular, they contain high amounts of monounsaturated fats including oleic acid. This type of fat has been linked to reduced inflammation and better heart health.
About 75% of the calories in an avocado come from fat, mostly monounsaturated fat.
These fats can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol to support heart health.
Avocados are an excellent source of dietary fiber, providing about 6-7 grams per half fruit.
Fiber is important for digestive health, weight management and more. It helps promote feelings of fullness and regular bowel movements.
Vitamins and Minerals
Avocados provide good amounts of several vitamins and minerals, including:
Potassium: Avocados contain more potassium than bananas. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure.
Folate: Important for cell growth and fetal development. Helps prevent neural tube defects.
Vitamin C: Boosts immune health and acts as an antioxidant.
Vitamin E: Antioxidant that fights free radical damage and inflammation.
Vitamin K: Supports bone health and wound healing.
Vitamin B6: Plays a role in over 100 enzyme reactions in the body.
Magnesium: Found in every cell in your body and crucial for energy production.
Unlike most fruits, avocados are low in sugar with only about 1 gram sugar per half fruit. Eating avocados as part of a balanced diet can help control blood sugar levels.
With their stellar nutritional profile, it’s no surprise that avocados offer some impressive health benefits. Let’s take a closer look at what the research says.
Health Benefits of Avocados
Many studies have found that eating avocados regularly can improve heart health markers, support eye health, and even help fight cancer. Here are some of the top scientifically-proven ways avocados can benefit your health:
1. Improve Heart Health
Avocados can improve several risk factors for heart disease including cholesterol levels, blood pressure and inflammation.
The monounsaturated fats in avocados can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol. This helps reduce your risk of atherosclerosis and heart attack.
One study in 45 overweight or obese people found that eating one avocado per day for 5 weeks lowered total cholesterol by 13.5 mg/dL and LDL cholesterol by 18.8 mg/dL.
Another study showed that eating an avocado daily for 3 weeks significantly decreased LDL cholesterol in people with high cholesterol.
Research also suggests avocados can lower blood pressure, another major heart disease risk factor.
The fiber and potassium in avocados may be responsible for their blood pressure lowering effects. Fiber helps regulate blood sugar spikes that can increase blood pressure, while potassium helps regulate fluid balance.
Thanks to their healthy fats, avocados can also lower inflammation, helping protect your heart. One study found that avocado consumers had lower levels of inflammatory markers including CRP.
2. May Prevent Macular Degeneration
The nutrients in avocados may help prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of age-related vision loss.
Avocados contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are known to protect eye health.
These antioxidants help filter harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light and protect the eyes from oxidative damage.
One study in over 1,000 adults found that those who ate avocados had a lower risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
3. May Help Prevent Birth Defects
Avocados are one of the best dietary sources of folate, providing about 23% of the recommended daily amount per half fruit.
Folate is especially important for women of childbearing age as it helps prevent neural tube defects in babies during fetal development.
One avocado provides over 90 mcg of folate, significantly more than other fruits and vegetables.
4. Aids Digestion and Nutrient Absorption
The fiber content in avocados makes them beneficial for digestion. Soluble fiber helps form a gel-like substance that slows digestion and helps nutrients be better absorbed.
Avocados contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and helps food pass more quickly through the intestines.
One study found that people who ate avocados had better overall nutrient absorption from their diet compared to those who did not eat avocados.
5. May Have Anticancer Properties
Some studies have found that avocados may have cancer-fighting abilities. The compounds in avocados like carotenoids and oleic acid may inhibit cancer cell growth.
One test tube study showed that avocado extract stopped the growth of prostate cancer cells. Another study demonstrated that oleic acid promotes cancer cell death.
However, most of the current research is limited to lab and animal studies. More human studies are needed.
6. Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Chronic inflammation is at the root of many modern diseases like heart disease, arthritis, and cognitive decline.
The anti-inflammatory effects of avocados make them a potent weapon against inflammation. Avocados contain high levels of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that has been linked to reduced inflammation.
One study found that eating avocado with hamburgers suppressed inflammatory markers by 40% .
7. May Boost Nutrient Absorption
Avocados can dramatically increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients from other foods.
Studies show that eating avocado or avocado oil with salads, salsa or vegetables increases the absorption of antioxidants like beta-carotene up to 4-5 times.
Similarly, avocado enhances carotenoid absorption from raw carrots up to 17 times.
This is because the fat content in avocados helps your body better absorb antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins.
8. Aids Weight Loss
Despite being high in fat and calories, avocados may promote weight loss when eaten in moderation.
The monounsaturated fats in avocados enhance satiety and satisfaction after eating, preventing overeating later.
One study found that people who ate half an avocado with their lunch reported feeling 40% less desire to eat over the next 3 hours.
Avocados are also high in fiber, which can prolong feelings of fullness. Additionally, the oleic acid in avocados may stimulate fat burning and metabolism.
Just be sure to watch your portions since avocados are calorie-dense. Half an avocado contains about 125 calories.
9. May Improve Cognitive Function
Avocados may enhance brain health and cognitive function due to their concentration of healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
A higher intake of monounsaturated fats is linked with better memory and attention in older adults.
Avocados also contain lutein, a carotenoid that accumulates in brain tissues. It acts as an antioxidant that protects the brain from oxidative damage.
One study found avocado consumption improved problem solving, memory and reasoning in older adults. More research is needed though.
10. High in Antioxidants
Avocados contain many antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds.
These antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals to prevent oxidative damage to cells. They may lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and cognitive decline.
One study reported that eating an avocado every day for 6 weeks increased antioxidants in the blood by up to 25% .
11. May Boost Skin and Hair Health
The antioxidants, fatty acids and vitamins in avocados can benefit your skin and hair health.
Avocado oil has been used topically to heal wounds, soothe sunburned skin and moisturize dry hair.
Some even use avocado as a natural hair mask to revitalize dry, damaged hair.
The antioxidants and oleic acid in avocados help protect your skin from sun damage. Avocado oil may even help reduce signs of aging like wrinkles.
How to Add Avocados to Your Diet
Avocados have a creamy, rich texture and a mild, nutty taste. Their richness makes them a satisfying addition to many dishes.
Here are some delicious ways to eat more avocados:
On toast or bagels - Top with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime.
In omelets or scrambled eggs
In salads - Cubed avocado adds creaminess.
In sandwiches and burgers - Slices add a tasty twist.
As guacamole - Mash with onion, tomatoes, lime, cilantro.
As a spread - For crusty bread, crackers or vegetables.
In smoothies - Blend with banana, milk, cocoa powder, etc.
In desserts - Mix into brownies, ice cream, pudding, etc.
As a replacement - Substitute avocado for mayo or butter.
With veggies - Enjoy with carrots, celery, bell peppers, etc.
With fish, chicken or steak - Provides healthy fats to balance the meal.
For the most benefits, aim for about 1/2 an avocado 1-2 times per week as part of a nutrient-dense diet. Avocados are very versatile, so enjoy using them in a variety of dishes.
The Bottom Line
Avocados provide an impressive array of nutrients and health benefits. They contain healthy fats for heart health, fiber for digestion, lutein for eye health, and several vitamins, minerals and plant compounds.
Research shows that avocados may help lower cholesterol, enhance nutrient absorption, support weight loss and have anticancer properties, among other benefits.
While more studies are needed, there are plenty of reasons to include avocados as part of a balanced, healthy diet. Their rich, creamy taste makes them easy to enjoy in smoothies, salads, sandwiches and many other dishes.
At the end of the day, avocados are an incredibly nutritious food that can be a tasty addition to support your overall health.