What’s the deal with fats in different types of avocados?
What about avocados? I know they don't contain any cholesterol, but they are high in fat so I have avoided them. Now, however, I am reading that the kind of fat they do contain may be useful in lowering cholesterol. Do you have any further information on this?
2) Dear Alice,
I love avocados and have heard that the different varieties have different health benefits and some are less fattening than others. Please can you tell me about different varieties and which are best.
Dear Guacamole and Reader,
While it might concern you that avocados are high in fat, you may be relieved to hear that it’s a nutritious kind of fat called monounsaturated fat. These fats can promote lower blood cholesterol levels, assist with blood sugar maintenance, and reduce cardiovascular risk. Fat aside, you’re absolutely right that avocados contain no cholesterol. Actually, no plant foods do. However, avocados have been shown to help lower risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing good cholesterol—high-density lipoprotein (HDL)—in the body. This in turn helps to decrease the amount of bad cholesterol—low-density lipoprotein (LDL)—in the bloodstream.
LDL cholesterol, when eaten in excess, can encourage plaque buildup on artery walls (also known as atherosclerosis). This plaque can eventually create a blockage and prevent effective blood flow throughout the body, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke. In contrast, HDL cholesterol clears the bloodstream and artery walls of LDL and transports the LDL to the liver to be broken down and eliminated. For more information about how LDL and HDL cholesterol can influence health, check out Facts about fats! in the Go Ask Alice! archives.
When deciding whether or not to eat different foods, it’s worth considering nutrients outside their fat content. Avocados are high in beta-carotene, folate (B vitamin), and potassium. Compared to other fruits, avocados contain less sugar, and the sugar it does contain may help with weight management and blood glucose control. Avocados are also high in dietary fiber and phytosterols, both of which may further lower a person’s cholesterol levels, beyond HDL’s impact. Other vitamins and nutrients in avocados include magnesium, vitamins C, E, and K, riboflavin, oleic acid, and niacin which can also positively impact your health.
The number of calories in an avocado ultimately depends on its size and type. There are more than 500 different types of avocados in the world, each with distinct characteristics, flavors, and textures! West Indian, Guatemalan, and Mexican are the three main avocado groups. Hass avocados, for example, are sourced from Mexico and California, making up about 95 percent of all avocados consumed in the United States. Hass avocados are often described as rich and fatty. On the other hand, the Dominican Avocado, which is sourced from Florida, Haiti, and the Caribbean islands, is larger in size but lower in fat content than Hass avocados, therefore having an overall lower calorie count.
Other common types of avocados include Bacon, Brogen, Cleopatra, Fuerte, Gwen, Lula, Pinkerton, and more. Generally, an average avocado contains around 200 to 300 calories and approximately 20 grams of fat, depending on the size and type of avocado. One caveat is that these nutritional facts are based on a raw avocado. If the avocado is being prepared, for example, as guacamole with additional toppings and seasonings, the nutritional facts may differ.
Although some avocados may have subtle distinctions, one kind isn’t better; they all have different benefits. Hope these facts help you to keep on guacin’ and rollin’!
Originally published May 18, 1995
Can’t find information on the site about your health concern or issue?