Avocados: Which variety is the healthiest?

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.

Many thanks!

Dear Reader,

No matter the color, shape, or size, avocados are delicious — and nutritious! There are a wide variety of avocados on the market, each with a unique flavor, texture, and nutritional value. One kind isn't better than another; they all have different benefits! Thanks to alternating shipment seasons, people across the United States have access to avocados all year round. California and Florida produce the vast majority of avocados in the United States.

Avocados can be classified into three main groups — West Indian, Guatemalan, and Mexican. West Indian avocados have a notably smooth, bright green surface. Guatemalan avocados are commonly crossed with West Indian avocados to produce a hybrid fruit with a slightly bumpy skin that grows later in the season. Unlike the other two, Mexican avocados tend to be smaller with a dark, wrinkly skin that grows best in wintertime. These avocados usually have a lower fat content, making them a good choice to use in salads or tacos. You may also see them referred to as “slimcado” due to their lower calorie content as well. California-grown avocados largely consist of the Hass variety, which are the most widely available type on the market. They have thick, leathery skin that turns dark green-to-black as the fruit ripens. California ships avocados throughout the United States, even all the way to Florida and other states on the East Coast. These medium-sized fruits weigh approximately 4.8 ounces (136 grams), and contain:  

  • Approximately 227 calories
  • 2.9 grams of saturated fat
  • 13.3 grams of monounsaturated fat
  • 2.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat

There are over 50 types of avocados from Florida, all of which have a bright-green skin and less fat, but more moisture, than the Hass. This texture gives them a savory, nutty taste. As they ripen, green-skinned avocados retain their light-green skin. Summer avocados from Florida tend to bruise more easily during shipment because of their thinner skin, restricting shipments from Florida to primarily Eastern U.S. markets. These avocados tend to be larger in size, and typically weigh a hefty 10.7 ounces (304 grams). One green-skinned avocado contains:

  • 6 grams of saturated fat
  • 16.8 grams of monounsaturated fat
  • 5.1 grams of polyunsaturated fat

No matter their hue, eating both black and green avocados provide multiple health benefits, including:

  • Acting as one of the best "nutrient boosters" by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients in foods that are eaten with the fruit, such as alpha- and beta-carotene.
  • Providing more than 25 essential nutrients, including fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid.
  • Providing consumers with a healthy source of fat in the form of oleic acid. The avocado is virtually the only fruit that has monounsaturated fat, which helps lower the risk of heart disease. 
  • Reducing total cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose levels — ultimately preventing cardiovascular complications.
  • Providing nutrients that benefit brain and eye health, improving overall cognitive function.
  • Increasing satiety during meals, making it beneficial to consume during weight loss efforts.

Adding heart-healthy, unsaturated fats to your diet, available in avocados, nuts, and olive oil, may help you make the most of your fruits and veggies and establish a more balanced diet. A delicious way to eat avocados is by using avocado in place of high-fat spreads, such as butter or mayonnaise. Avocados are also commonly eaten diced on chicken and fish or in salads and sandwiches. You can’t go wrong with a nutrient dense food such as avocados, so explore the many varieties and see which ones you prefer.

See you… avocado go now!

Last updated Dec 03, 2021
Originally published Nov 18, 2011

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