We constantly nosh on avocado toasts and flaunt our trendy, avocado smoothies, but do we even know what an avocado is? Vegetable or fruit? Weight loss hero or just diethype? Admit it — you have no idea.
Well, avocado lovers, we’re here to put your questions to rest. Below, we’ve uncovered every avocado FAQ ever asked, including what they are, what dietitians really think about them, and whether they are truly the perfect food for your waistline.
What Are Avocados Exactly?
According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the Central American avocado tree originated in southern Mexico and Colombia around 7,000 years ago. By the 16th century, the Aztecs and Incas shared the avocado with Spanish conquistadors, who then named them aguacate. Later nicknamed “alligator pears” by English colonists for their green, scale-like skin and pear shape, avocados have assimilated into North American culture to such a degree that there are now 80 Californian varieties — Hass avocados being the most popular of their kind. You may be surprised to learn that avocados are actually a fruit! Indeed, according to the California Avocado website, the avocado is botanically considered a berry because of its fleshy pulp and large single seed, and because this fruit is the product of a tree.
What’s in an Avocado? The Basic Nutrition Facts
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), these are the nutrition facts for about one-half, or 68 grams (g), of an avocado:
- Calories 114
- Dietary fiber 6 g
- Total sugar 0.2 g
- Potassium 345 milligrams (mg)
- Sodium 5.5 mg
- Magnesium 19.5 mg
- Vitamin A 43 micrograms (μg)
- Vitamin E 1.3 mg
- Vitamin K 14 μg
- Vitamin B-6 0.2 mg
- Monounsaturated fatty acids 6.7 g
Overall, avocados contain quite a bit of potassium, dietary fiber, and fats. Avocado oil alone is almost two-thirds (71 percent) monounsaturated fatty acids — aka the “good fats” shown to lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol and increase HDL, or “good,” cholesterol, according to the Dairy Council of California. These important contents add to a number of health benefits.
The price of avocados fluctuates, but because of their "healthy-fat" status, avocados have become a popular food among people following the ketogenic diet, also called the keto diet for short. In fact, in February 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that high-fat foods like avocados are rising, likely due to the increased popularity of high-fat diets such as keto and the Atkins diet. Other high-fat foods, including olives and olive oil, have also increased in price, the article notes.