Avocado has infiltrated every meal – we eat it in smoothies, salads, sandwiches and even ice cream and brownies. But can there be too much of a good thing? With its high healthy fat content, should we be rethinking the amount of avocado we’re eating? We found out the answers…
Firstly, what are the health benefits of avocados?
Avocados are brimming with essential nutrients including potassium, B-vitamins and folic acid. The combination of vitamins B6, C, D and riboflavin can help to maintain a healthy immune system and vitamins A and E can help to protect against cancer and promote healthy skin. They also act as a so-called nutrient booster – when eaten with other foods, avocados enable the body to better absorb cancer-fighting nutrients, such as carotenoids, found in foods such as spinach and carrots. And if that’s not enough, they’re also packed with omega-3s, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.
What about calories?
Alongside being a powerhouse of nutrients, one medium-sized avocado contains between 250 and 280 calories and around 22g of fat. For a 2,000-calorie diet, the daily intake of fat is capped at around 65g, meaning an entire medium avocado accounts for more than one third of your intake for a day. Chances are you’re pairing your avocado with another fat source, such as salmon and/or olive oil, and though these are healthy fats and should be incorporated as part of a balanced diet, too much of a good thing can still lead to weight gain.
So how much is enough?
Most nutritionists agree that half an avocado per day is about right, although, as with all food, this depends on your diet and activity levels. Try thinking of your fat intake as a budget – we each have a certain amount of fat to ‘spend’ daily; if you spend more on avocado you’ll have less to spend elsewhere. For example, if your avocado is topping an already hearty meal, then just a small amount may suffice.
On a Similar Note
But isn’t it all good fats?
Absolutely, and while a Mars bar may contain 260 calories, it’s also packed with sugar. An avocado, on the other hand, is chock-full of fibre, which will keep you full and blood sugar levels in check, but it's worth bearing portion size in mind.
What about guacamole?
If you’re snacking on crisps and guacamole, putting away a whole avocado is easily done, and crisps also come with their own fat content. Try serving with crudités instead, and if you’re ordering guacamole at a Mexican restaurant, opt for a lower-fat main course, such as ceviche and salad.
The bottom line…
Exactly how much avocado (and fat in general) you should consume per day depends on your body type, general constitution and activity levels, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommendation. As a guideline, 15-30% of your diet should come from wholefood sources of fat, so assuming you are eating some nuts, seeds and perhaps cooking with coconut or olive oil, half an avocado is a realistic portion size.