It is likely that the nutritional content of avocados has been a subject of conversations in your life before. Across the globe people just can’t seem to stop arguing about whether or not avocados are healthy, unhealthy, or somewhere right in the middle.
Well, how much protein does an avocado have?
First, it is important to recognize that avocados come in not only different sizes, but different types as well. In order to maintain clarity, we will move forward under the assumption that the average avocado is 150 grams. Thus, strictly speaking an avocado contains 3 grams of protein, which is on par with the protein found in an equal serving of milk. So, while 3 grams doesn’t seem like much compared to some of your favorite foods, avocados also contain all eight of the essential amino acids used by your body, which greatly boosts their benefits.
Perhaps you’re asking yourself now: “if each avocado has more than 3 grams of protein, all the essential amino acids my body needs, and it is a fruit, why do some people think they’re unhealthy?”
The answer is fat.
How much fat does an avocado have?
Many individuals like to point to the high fat-content within avocados as a sign that they are an unhealthy food, yet when it comes down to it, avocados are one of the few notable fruits in the world that contain monounsaturated fats (along with olives and coconuts (at a much lower level).
Since we already know that each average avocado will contain approximately three 3 grams of protein, hearing that same avocado contains 26 grams of fat can be slightly alarming. However, of those 26 grams of fat, more than 60% of it is monounsaturated fat. While research attached to the benefits to be gleaned from monounsaturated fats is still ongoing, these fats have been linked to the following:
- Reducing bad cholesterol levels and have an overall positive effect on your cholesterol.
- Lessening the chance of stroke and subsequent heart disease.
- Tangible increases in weight loss and reduced belly fat when monounsaturated fats are swapped out to replace the unhealthier trans fats consumed in swarms by some people.
While the 26 grams of fat present in an avocado should not be ignored (as it is one-third of the daily recommended allowance of fat for an individual on a 2,000-calorie diet), the fact that more than 16 grams of that will be monounsaturated fats (which are considered good in terms of fats) should help alleviate any apprehension.
What other nutritional value do avocados provide?
In addition to more than 3 grams of protein and 26 grams of fat (60% of which is of the monounsaturated variety), avocados are also surprisingly rich in other beneficial vitamins and nutrients that are crucial to your overall health.
In terms of vitamins, one avocado can provide nearly 20 percent of the Required Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K (almost one-third of your daily needs in this case). Avocados are also rich in folate, a B vitamin necessary in the makeup of DNA and more advanced genetic material. The most shocking nutritional find when you delve in toe breakdown of the avocado might be the amount of potassium avocados have though—even more than bananas in fact.
You heard that correctly. Despite everything you were told while you were growing up about how bananas were key because you needed them for their potassium, avocados have been packed with potassium (also represented by the letter ‘K’ on the Table of Elements) the entire time—to the tune of nearly 50% of your daily requirements.
Just as prevalent in avocados is dietary fiber; one avocado can pack as much a half of your daily needs into a single, 150-gram fruit. Fiber is extremely important to digestive health and ensuring that things run smoothly inside you. Considering that so many individuals struggle with a lack of fiber in their diet, it might be beneficial if individuals stopped perpetuating the “avocados are unhealthy because they are fatty” belief.
The nutritional benefits do not stop here either. While the amounts do not compare to the present levels of the aforementioned vitamins and nutrients, avocados also contain iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, and copper.
What don’t avocados have in them?
Unlike most fruits, avocados contain very low amounts of sugar—to the tune of approximately 1 gram per avocado. For comparisons sake, a kiwi (another fruit with a green inside, though much smaller and not very similar in any other regard) contains a whopping 6 grams of protein. That would represent the amount of sugar in approximately 15 avocados. This means that avocados are nearly perfect to eat for individuals constantly worried with increasing their blood-sugar level.
Non-fiber carbohydrates are something else you won’t find much of in avocados, as the majority of the carb-content present is in the form of beneficial fiber. So, while avocados do maintain relatively high levels of calories and fats, their lack of sugar and unnecessary carbohydrates make them an ideal candidate for dietary food pairing.
Don’t avocados come in different sizes?
There exists a wide variety of avocados available for purchase, though the most common type of avocado is known as a Hass avocado. In some regions, this type might be referred to as a Bilse avocado—though I’m not sure how the namesake behind this type of avocado, Rudolph Hass, would feel about that today.
In many areas, you can find three different sizes of avocados: small, medium, and large.
Though, some produce markets and avocado growers might discern between sizes by the number of avocados it takes to fill a 25-pound container or box full. In these instances, the size of an avocado can range all the way from 28 (meaning it takes 28 avocados to reach the 25-pound mark) to 84 (meaning it would take 84 of this size of avocado to reach 25 pounds).
Because the sizes vary—even just considering the small, medium, and large differences—it can sometimes be easier to think of the nutritional breakdowns of an avocado in 50-gram increments. This would usually translate to about one-third of an average avocado.
What is the nutritional breakdown of 50 grams of avocado?
Using the aforementioned serving as a point of reference, 50 grams of avocado will contain 1 gram of protein and 8 grams of fat (5 of which are monounsaturated). In addition, a 50-gram serving of avocado has 80 calories, but would also provide its eater with 4 grams of fiber—quite a positive trade-off, all things considered.
One reason why breaking avocado down into 50-gram increments is helpful is that it helps immensely while creating meal plans or working to maintain accuracy in the records of your eating. Not only can avocados vary in size, but it is also common to encounter different proportions of pits within the avocado. By analyzing it in equal portions, you will be able to avoid the guesswork and estimation and ensure that your numbers are accurate. Just keep in mind that the majority of avocados will be between 150-200 grams—so about three or four 50-gram servings.
Do different types of avocados have more protein?
We have already broken down the different sizes of avocados and how to avoid confusion when trying to discern nutritional content, but what are the difference between the types of avocados?
There are generally thought to be two wholly-different groups of avocados: California avocados (Hass) and Florida avocados. One way to tell the difference is by the skins—Hass California avocados are darker colored, while Florida avocados will have a green skin.
Besides the difference in aesthetic appearance, the two varieties also vary slightly in both their fat and caloric breakdowns. Despite often growing to much-larger sizes than their Hass counterparts, Florida avocados are surprisingly low in fat in juxtaposition—containing just two-thirds as much fat. This lower fat content can be attributed to the heavily-reduced presence of oils in this variety. The calorie count will also be lower in a serving of Florida avocados than it would in California avocados, by almost 25%. However, because Florida avocados are often much bigger, if an individual were to eat an entire avocado they would likely intake more calories than an individual eating a whole Hass California avocado.
Despite the recognizable difference in calories and fat content between the two types of avocados, their protein levels are similar, with each variety containing 1 gram of protein per 50-gram serving, or 3 grams of protein per avocado.
Are there ways to make avocados healthier?
If you’re looking to eat well and gain the wide range of health benefits offered by avocados, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
First, because avocados are so rich in oils already, adding additional oil to an avocado-based recipe is often unnecessary. While sunflower oil and olive oil are usually welcome additions to all food, with avocados they become overkill. This subtraction will help limit redundant fats and keep your unhealthy fat count down
Next up, don’t forget to build off of the richness and the creamy texture of the avocado. There is often no need to add dairy products or cheeses to avocado dishes—especially guacamole—because the dish already maintains a creamy quality without it. This will also help keep the already-high calorie count of guacamole down.
Besides that, maintaining a balanced diet outside of avocado intake is key. Because the fruit is so delicious, oftentimes individuals will dive headfirst in to avocados and start implementing them into every meal, every snack, and every thought. While nobody will ever have the right to tell you when to stop eating avocados, supplementing it with healthy portions of other food is still necessary—especially for protein intake.
What do we know about avocados now?
Despite containing 250 calories and 25 grams of fat per avocado, there is no reason to be afraid of indulging in the fruit. Of those 25 grams of fat, the majority are of the monounsaturated variety, which can be highly beneficial when implemented effectively into a diet. Considering also that 250 calories is just one-eighth of the recommended 2,000 calorie daily intake of an adult male, an avocado could be snuck in as a snack easily.
An avocado contains more than 3 grams of protein, which is approximately three times the amount of sugar it has. This low level of sugar is directly opposite that found in other fruits, and help explains at least part of the avocado’s popularity. While the sugar ingested from many fruits will burn off quickly and often be accompanied with a “coming down” feeling or crash, the monounsaturated fats digested after eating an avocado will last an extended period and help to provide much-needed energy for your body.
Throw in the heavy presence of potassium, important B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and folate, and the nutritional benefits of avocados can be linked to improved eyesight, lowered cholesterol, increased antioxidants within the body, lowered risk of stroke, smoother digestive health, and less angry attacks of hunger. That goes without mentioning the current studies on avocados being completed in order to better understand the fruit’s link to preventing cancer, alleviating pain suffered by those with arthritis, and combatting heart disease.
By pairing avocados with other foods, you can also increase your absorption of nutrients thanks to the high levels of carotenoids within the fruit which can exponentially increase healthy fat absorption.
While 3 grams of protein per avocado might not seem like an impressive amount meant to inspire people across the globe to rush out and start eating the fruit, it is the plethora of other vitamins and nutrients within the avocado that make it so appealing as a health food. Very few foods allow you the opportunity to take a bite of a relatively-high calorie and fatty food and feel good about it—but that is precisely what avocados do. The next time you’re looking for a snack you shouldn’t obsess over the fat; you should appreciate the flavor.
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