Avocado is being more and more popular around the world. This is good because It has many health benefits for us.
What makes avocados so popular is the taste and the many health benefits and nutrients that they have to offer. In this article you will discover which (proven) health benefits these are.
Also not entirely unimportant for the success of the avocado is its taste. They can enrich all kinds of dishes enormously.
You can read how to enjoy avocado while boosting your health in the 5 recipes with which I will close this article.
What you will learn in this article:
- What the nutritional value of avocados is
- What the health benefits are
- That you can also use avocados for the care of your skin
- 5 delicious recipes
What are avocados?
An avocado is a pear-shaped fruit. They fall into the category of berries. Depending on the breed, they can grow to be 7 to 20 centimeters long and weigh more than 2 kg.
The avocado was first cultivated in Mexico, around 2500 years ago.
Most avocados that you find in Dutch supermarkets are of the ‘Hass’ variety.
The Hass avocado is the most cultivated variety. This is due to its taste, shelf life and high yield.
This Hass avocado weighs between 200 and 300 grams each. The skin is green which turns black-brown during ripening. The skin feels rough and lumpy.
It is often difficult to assess whether an avocado is completely ready for eating.
A trick to find out here is to remove the small seed from the tip of the avocado.
If the avocado is ready to eat then you will see that the place where the seed was white-green in color.
Avocados are almost always eaten raw. If they are heated (100 degrees or warmer), a molecular reaction takes place that changes the taste. They turn brown and taste like quinine (a ‘tonic’ taste).
You will therefore never cook or bake avocados so quickly, although you can.
If you spread avocados on a warm toast or put guacamole on your burritos, they will not be heated sufficiently to ruin the delicious taste and creamy texture.
The special thing about avocados is that they are rich in fatty acids. They contain among others the healthy omega 3 fatty acids . A fatty acid that you find especially in foods of animal origin and in seeds and nuts.
Furthermore, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber are well represented in avocados.
Nutritional value of avocado
Avocados are very nutritious. The great thing is that it contains all macronutrients and numerous micronutrients.
Theoretically, they are so nutritious that you could survive for a while, they contain all macronutrients and many micronutrients.
Although I would not recommend that. You will eventually get a vitamin B12 and calcium deficiency.
|Nutritional value of avocado||Per 100 grams|
|Of which saturated||2 grams|
|Of which sugars||0 grams|
|Including fibers||7 grams|
|Egg whites||2 grams|
For a fruit, avocado contains relatively many calories. This is due to the fatty acids it is rich in.
About 80% of calories come from fats . That is 20 times more than the average for other types of fruit. With most types of fruit, calories come mainly from carbohydrates (fruit sugars).
One whole avocado contains around 300 calories and 30 grams of fat.
If you want to lose weight you should therefore not eat too much avocado. Half an avocado per day is a nice guideline. Although it doesn’t matter if you eat more of it occasionally.
The advantage of avocados is that they give you a feeling of satiety, so that you will not eat too much of other things that quickly.
Fatty profile of avocado
Because avocado is often eaten because of the healthy fatty acids, it is interesting to see what the fatty acid profile looks like. This is as follows:
|Fatty acid||Per 100 grams|
|Total fatty acids||15 grams|
|Saturated fatty acid||2.12 grams|
|Of which palmitic acid||2.07 grams|
|Of which stearic acid||49 mg|
|Monounsaturated fatty acids||9.8 grams|
|Of which palmitoleic acid (omega 7)||700 mg|
|Of which oleic acid (omega 9)||9.07 grams|
|Polyunsaturated fatty acids||1.8 grams|
|Of which linoleic acid (omega 6)||1.67 grams|
|Of which alpha linoleic acid (omega 3)||110 mg|
An average avocado gives you 30 grams of fatty acids, 20 grams of which are unsaturated fatty acids.
Oleic acid accounts for the majority of the fatty acids.
The omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in avocado have no favorable ratio . The ratio is 10: 1 in favor of omega 6 fatty acids.
Despite this unfavorable ratio, avocados in a balanced diet have beneficial effects on health.
Vitamins in avocado
Avocados also contain the necessary vitamins. In the table below you can see which and how much.
|Vitamin||Per 100 grams|
|Vitamin A||147 IU (3% RDA)|
|Vitamin B1||100 mcg (5% RDA)|
|Vitamin B2||100 mcg (8% RDA)|
|Vitamin B3||1.9 mg (10% RDA)|
|Vitamin B5||1.5 mg (15% RDA)|
|Vitamin B6||300 mcg (14% RDA)|
|Vitamin B11 (folic acid)||89 mcg (22% RDA)|
|Vitamin C||8.8 mg (15% RDA)|
|Vitamin E||2 mcg (10% RDA)|
|Vitamin K||21 mcg (26% RDA)|
Multiply the above value by 2 and you know how many vitamins there are in a small avocado.
Avocado gives many different vitamins. Only vitamins D and B12 do not occur in avocado.
Minerals in avocado
Avocados also provide minerals, albeit in fairly modest quantities.
|Minerals||Per 100 grams|
|Calcium||13 mg (1% RDA)|
|Iron||600 mcg (3% RDA)|
|Magnesium||29 mg (7% RDA)|
|Phosphorus||53 mg (5% RDA)|
|Potassium||507 mg (14% RDA)|
|Zinc||695 mcg (5% RDA)|
|Copper||203 mcg (9% RDA)|
|Manganese||99 mcg (7% RDA)|
|Selenium||0.4 mcg (1% RDA)|
|Sodium||8 mg (0% RDA)|
The health benefits of avocados
Avocados are also seen as superfood which is not so strange considering the nutritional value and the health benefits.
I have summarized the health benefits of avocado for you in the infographic below, which I had specially made for this. In the infographic you will also find interesting facts about avocado.
The health benefits are further explained under the infographic.
Health benefit # 1: anti-inflammatory fatty acids
Low-threshold inflammations are the basis of many diseases and disorders. Inflammation (partly) causes cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Although avocados are praised for their omega 3 fatty acids, it is actually the omega 9 fatty acids that it is rich in. The majority of the fatty acids consists of oleic acid .
Oleic acid is also an important fatty acid in olive oil and also occurs in coconut oil . Oleic acid has been shown to reduce inflammation ( source , source , source ). In these studies, oleic acid was found to be most effective in combination with omega 3 fatty acid (alpha linoleic acid) as is the case with olive oil.
Health benefit # 2: good for your cholesterol
Doctors talk about high cholesterol if the values mark an increased risk of arteriosclerosis. Arterial calcification is a major health hazard because it increases the chance of a heart attack or stroke.
The annoying thing about high cholesterol is that you don’t notice it until it’s too late. That is why health checks are performed to check whether the blood is too high.
We make a distinction between LDL and HDL cholesterol. LDL stands for Low Density Lipoprotein and is also called bad cholesterol because high LDL values mark the risk of arteriosclerosis.
The polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are rich in avocados, help to lower the bad LDL cholesterol ( source ).
The HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is seen as the good cholesterol. It ensures that excess LDL cholesterol can be removed from the blood walls. The fatty acids of avocados help to raise the good HDL cholesterol ( source ).
In a study of people with normal lipid (fat) values, this decreased by 16% after the participants had added avocados to their diet for a week ( source ).
People with high cholesterol were also examined in the same study. After a week, total cholesterol was reduced by 17%, LDL cholesterol by 22% and triglycerides by 22%. This while the good HDL cholesterol had increased by 11%.
Health benefit # 3: helps with non-alcoholic fatty liver
With non-alcoholic fatty liver there is a disturbed fat and sugar metabolism in the liver. This causes fat to accumulate in and around the liver.
A non-alcoholic liver fat is often referred to as NAFLD, which stands for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.
NAFLD usually does not cause any symptoms, sometimes end-stage complaints only occur when NAFLD turns into liver inflammation (NASH) after which liver cirrhosis and ultimately liver cancer can occur.
People with NAFLD have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, twice as much risk of cardiovascular disease and the risk of premature death is 1.5 times as high.
NAFLD is reversible due to weight loss and lifestyle adjustments. Lately, there has also been increasing attention for foods that can help tackle NAFLD.
Foods that reduce NAFLD ( source ):
- Avocados and avocado oil
- Black coffee
- Nuts , walnuts in particular
- Olive oil
- Fatty fish and fish oil
- Red wine (if in modest quantities)
Avocados also contain vitamin E. This has been shown to help against a fatty liver ( source ).
Health benefit # 4: reduces the risk of certain cancers
Carotenoids are fat-soluble antioxidants that are present in relatively large quantities in avocados. They are mainly in the dark green flesh directly under the skin.
To preserve the carotenoids as much as possible, it is therefore best to peel the flesh out of the skin instead of scooping it out with a spoon.
Carotenoids are found in various types of vegetable food, but the fatty acids in avocados ensure that the carotenoids can be properly absorbed by the body ( source).
The fatty acids in avocado also ensure that fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) are better absorbed.
Tomatoes and carrots are also rich in carotenoids, by eating them in combination with avocados they are well absorbed.
By adding avocado or avocado oil to a salad you ensure that the antioxidants are 2.6 to 15 times better absorbed ( source ).
Carotenoids help prevent cell damage and protect against oxidative stress ( source ).
Health benefit # 5: reduces the risk of macular degeneration
The macula is the center of the retina in which there are cones.
With macular degeneration, vision deteriorates. People also refer to it as ‘wear and tear of the retina’.
Two antioxidants in combination with omega 3 fatty acids can help prevent age-related macular degeneration ( source ). This concerns the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which occur naturally in combination with omega 3 in avocados.
Lutein and zeaxanthin may also help prevent cataracts, although this evidence is not conclusive ( source ). This requires more research.
Health benefit # 6: lowers risk of metabolic syndrome
The metabolic syndrome is caused by an imbalance between food intake and physical activity (read: too little exercise and too much food). The metabolism is seriously disturbed with negative health effects.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of common conditions such as increased blood glucose, overweight / obesity (too much belly fat), high cholesterol and increased blood pressure.
Metabolic syndrome is often the precursor to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Metabolic syndrome can be reversed or prevented by tackling overweight and lifestyle changes.
Avocados also reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. In people who regularly eat avocados, metabolic syndrome is 50% less common ( source ).
Research also shows that people who regularly eat avocados also eat more vegetables and less sugar ( source ).
So it is people who consciously make healthier food choices. That metabolic syndrome occurs less frequently in this group of people is therefore not only thanks to avocados, but also thanks to healthier food choices.
Avocados increase the quality of the diet and the amount of nutrients that are eaten ( source ).
Because of the fibers and fatty acids, people will eat too much less quickly, creating a better balance between the amount they eat and how much they exercise. Which brings us to health benefit # 7.
Health benefit # 7: stay on weight
The energy that avocados give in combination with the fibers ensure that people become saturated sooner. This prevents people from eating too much, which is important to be able to stay at a healthy weight ( source , source , source ).
In one study, overweight people were given half an avocado to eat with their lunch. This made them feel full longer during the afternoon. So they could offer better resistance against an appetite in an afternoon snack ( source ).
Avocado healthy for the skin
Externally, avocado is also widely used for the care of skin and hair. Avocado oil is used for this .
Avocado oil can be extracted from the flesh of avocado or from the kernel of the avocado. Both oils contain healthy fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.
Avocado oil helps keep the skin soft, strong and elastic. You can lubricate the skin with pure avocado oil, you can buy beauty products that contain avocado oil or you can make your own beauty products based on avocado oil.
Avocado oil is used for:
- Treating dry skin
- Treating an itchy skin
- Hydrating the skin
- Treating damaged skin
- Protecting the skin against UV radiation
The effect of avocado oil on the skin has mainly been demonstrated in animal studies. For example, avocado oil appears to heal wounds faster in rats ( source ).
An interesting study in people with psoriasis (a chronic skin condition) showed that a vitamin B12 cream with avocado oil can be used for the long-term treatment of psoriasis ( source ).
There are no studies that show that the use of avocado oil can have side effects. Despite that, it is wise to first treat a small area of your skin, on your arm, with avocado oil to see if there is no allergic reaction within 24 hours.
Avocado oil can potentially relieve osteoarthritis
The unsaponifiable oil from avocados and soy can be used to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis.
These oils are for sale in the form of supplements. According to a study ( source ) these unsaponifiable fats can relieve the pain, stiffness and reduced mobility of the joints in osteoarthritis.
The long-term effect of these unsaponifiable fats on osteoarthritis is not (yet) known.
The avocado seed
You usually throw the seed of the avocado directly into the waste bin. But did you know that it contains a lot of beneficial substances? It is possibly the healthiest part of the avocado.
Researchers allowed the skin of the seeds of hundreds of avocados to dry, after which they were ground into powder. She then further processed this into oil and wax.
The researchers found 116 substances in the oil and 16 in the wax ( source ).
According to the researchers, many of these substances are a gold mine and may be used to treat a whole range of certain diseases.
According to Dr. Debasish Bandyopadhyay, from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, these substances could even be used to treat cancer and cardiovascular disease.
They found docosanol (behenyl alcohol) in the oil, which is an important ingredient in antiviral medicines.
Dodecanoic acid (lauric acid) also appeared to be in the peels of the seeds. This would help to raise the good HDL cholesterol.
In the wax, the researchers found substances that can be used in cosmetics and in the production of synthetic products, from shower curtains to medical equipment.
So now also eat the avocado seeds? According to the California Avocado Commission, that is not such a good plan ( source ).
The extracts from the avocado kernel contain healthy substances, they also contain substances that have not been sufficiently researched to be able to ascertain with certainty whether they are safe.
In short, it means that it cannot yet be said that the health benefits outweigh the risks of eating avocado seeds.
A number of health blogs promote the use of avocado seeds in smoothies. This is because the kernel contains the highest concentrations of antioxidants. If you also want to try this, it is at your own risk.
Keep in mind that avocado seeds are very bitter in taste. You will therefore have to add them to sweet smoothies.
Before adding avocado seeds to your smoothie you will first have to dry it. You can do this by putting the pips in the oven at 180 degrees for 2 hours.
After this, crush the seeds with the side of a large knife. They will burst open in 2 pieces. You then put the seeds in a strong blender to grind them into powder with the pulse setting.
You can then add the powder to your smoothies. The powder that you have left can be stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.
Avocados and pregnancy
It is good to eat avocados if you want to become pregnant, if you are pregnant and if you are breast-feeding.
Avocado is a good source of folic acid which is important to prevent the birth of a child with birth defect.
Avocados are also a source of potassium that is in special need during pregnancy.
Avocados contain many healthy nutrients and help improve the quality of breastfeeding ( source ).
To enjoy all the good things avocados have to offer at home you can indulge yourself with the recipes below.
Recipe # 1: Spicy guacamole
If you think of avocados, chances are that you also think of guacamole. A guacamole recipe cannot be missed here.
Guacamole is best when you make it yourself. And the nice thing about this dip is that you make it with only healthy ingredients. Responsible enjoyment.
This guacamole recipe is for anyone who likes a spicy guacamole.
- 3 avocados
- 2 Roma tomatoes
- 2 Jalapeño peppers
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 small onion
- 1 lime
- 40 grams of fresh coriander
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon of black pepper
- Cut the avocados and remove the seed. Put them in a large bowl and prick the avocado with a fork. You should not puree the avocado and leave some coarse pieces in it.
- Cut the Jalapeño pepper and remove the seeds. Dice the peppers as finely as possible and add them to the dish.
- Clean the onion, cut it into small cubes and add it to the bowl.
- Cut the tomatoes and remove the seed. This ensures that the guacamole does not get too wet. Cut the tomato into small cubes and add it to the dish.
- Squeeze the garlic cloves over the dish with a garlic press.
- Finely chop the coriander and add it to the bowl.
- Add the salt, black pepper and the cumin powder.
- Cut the lime and squeeze out the juice above the bowl.
- Finally, mix all ingredients well together using a fork. To make the flavors better absorb, you can put the guacamole dish in the fridge for an hour before you serve it.
Extra proteins? Add a few scoops of Greek yogurt to your guacamole to add extra protein.
For a sweet spicy guacamole, add some diced pineapple and mango. Another delicious fruit combination is strawberry with peach.
Your guacamole even healthier? Then add a small handful of pine nuts and pomegranate seeds.
Extra proteins and fibers? Then put the contents of a small can of black beans through your guacamole.
Cheatday guacamole? Then add grated cheese and crispy fried pieces of bacon.
A pre-workout guacamole? Then add a ripe banana and finely chopped pieces of cashew nuts.
Recipe # 2: Avocado chocolate mousse
In many countries they make desserts from avocados. The fatty acids in the avocado ensure that you will feel full for a long time, so you will have less need to snack.
If you use a natural sweetener such as stevia, it also saves sugar which you would get with a ‘normal’ dessert. This recipe is sugar, gluten, milk, and soy free.
For this chocolate mousse we use raw cocoa powder. Raw cocoa powder contains the most antioxidants of all foods in the world. Even more than chocolate, because in the preparation of chocolate, some of the antioxidants are lost due to heating.
You can also make this chocolate mousse with regular cocoa powder. This will then contain fewer antioxidants but is still super healthy.
Cocoa is also a rich source of dietary fiber and magnesium. Magnesium plays a role in more than 700 processes in the body including your energy metabolism.
Ingredients (4 servings):
- 2 ripe avocados
- 40 grams of raw cocoa powder
- 80 ml unsweetened almond milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 very small pinch of salt
- A few drops of pure stevia (to taste)
- Cut the avocados and remove the kernel and skin. Put the flesh in the blender.
- Add the remaining ingredients and blend until you have a nice smooth mass. Add stevia to taste to make your mousse sweet.
If you do not have a blender, you can also put the ingredients in a large bowl and finely chop with a fork. Your mousse will then be less smooth.
Instead of stevia as a sweetener you can also use natural sugars such as honey or coconut blossom sugar. Your mousse will then naturally contain more calories.
Recipe # 3: avocado hummus
Hummus has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is tasty and healthy. It is a smooth pasta that you eat as a dip. It is made from chickpeas according to a Middle Eastern recipe.
Traditionally, you eat hummus with Lebanese flat bread, but it is also eaten with pita bread. I prefer to eat hummus with raw vegetables such as red peppers, raw carrots, celery or cucumber.
You can buy ready-made hummus in the supermarket, but you can make the tastiest hummus yourself. By incorporating avocados you make your hummus extra healthy and creamy.
This is to make avocado hummus yourself:
- 1 can of chickpeas of 400 grams
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1 large tablespoon of tahini (sesame paste)
- 1 clove of garlic
- ½ lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- A pinch of cumin powder
- A pinch of salt
- A little bit of ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sliced fresh coriander
- Open the can of chickpeas and let the chickpeas drain well.
- Clean the garlic clove and cut it into small pieces.
- Put the chickpeas in the blender and add the olive oil, tahini and garlic.
- Squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the blender.
- Turn on the blender for 2 minutes so that it becomes a nice smooth whole.
- Meanwhile, cut the avocados and remove the kernel and skin.
- Add the avocado to the blender.
- Add salt, black pepper and cumin powder to taste.
- Blend the whole for another minute or 2.
- Use the coriander as a garnish.
Recipe # 4: avocado tuna salad
Don’t feel like cooking and need something quick but still healthy? Then this avocado tuna salad is for you. It only takes 3 minutes to prepare this healthy tuna salad.
Normally you make tuna salad with mayonnaise. With this tuna salad you can replace the mayonnaise for avocado. This gives your body healthier fatty acids and of course a whole range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- A can of tuna in olive oil or water
- ½ ripe avocado
- Some salt and pepper
- Put the tuna in a bowl
- Cut the avocado and add the flesh of half an avocado to the tuna
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Break everything through with a fork and you’re done!
You can put the tuna salad on bread or toast. If you want to eat low carbohydrate then you can also eat this avocado tuna salad in a wrap of (iceberg) lettuce leaves or on a sliced pepper.
Recipe 5: key lime pie
If you make key lime pie according to a classic American recipe, then it is terribly tasty, but unfortunately also a real calorie bomb.
Traditionally you use a lot of cookies, butter, cream cheese, condensed milk and sour cream for this. So that ticks with the calories.
It can also be less over the top with the calories with the recipe below.
This recipe has about 50% fewer calories than a key lime pie according to a traditional recipe. But what makes this key lime pie really special is that it contains only healthy fatty acids.
Who said that healthy cannot be tasty?
- 2 ripe avocados
- 120 ml coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
Ingredients for the soil:
- 75 grams of almond
- 7 pitted dates
- A pinch of salt and Cayenne pepper
- Cut the avocados and remove the peel and zest.
- Put the ingredients for the filling together in a blender and mix until you have a nice smooth mass.
- Cut the dates into small pieces.
- Mash the almonds into crumbs with a mortar.
- Put the pieces of date, the almond crumbs, the salt and Cayenne pepper in a bowl and stir it together. Place this on a baking tray or a large plate to be able to compress it so that you get the bottom of your pie
- Spread your stuffing over the crust and put it in the freezer for 2 hours so that it can cure.
- Remove the key lime pie from the freezer 5 minutes before serving.