The popularity of the avocado is down to its rich, creamy, velvety texture and mild flavour. The avocado or Persea Americana is a fruit that belongs to the family of Lauraceae; a group that also includes members such as cinnamon and laurel. There are dozens of varieties of avocado ranging in size, colour and texture. All are native to tropical climates and when harvested, the flesh softens to a buttery texture that has become extremely popular in everything from toast toppings to desserts.
Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat and vitamin E. However, avocados are high in calories due to the high fat content. Half an avocado counts as one portion of your 5-a day and those managing their weight might want to consider limiting the number of avocados they consume to two per week while increasing the portions of other lower calorie fruits and vegetables.
Avocados have more soluble fibre than other fruit and contain a number of useful minerals such as iron, copper and potassium and are a good source of the B vitamin, folate. 100g of avocado contains about 19g of fat, of which 12g are monounsaturated fats (only 4g of saturated fat).
The guidance around the types of fat we should be consuming for a healthy diet is ever changing. Currently, it is recommended that we choose unsaturated fats such as monounsaturated fat (like that found in avocados) as they are supposedly better for heart health than saturated fat.
Research suggests that monounsaturated fat helps to protect against heart disease and lowers blood pressure. The oils provided by an avocado include oleic acid and linoleic acid and are therefore recommended as part of a balanced diet to prevent high cholesterol.
There is no doubt that the calorie content of avocados is greater than other fruits and vegetables. One small study has shown the fat content of avocados can lead to feelings of satiety which can help with appetite regulation.
However, as research has developed, the avocado has been commended as a good example of a nutrient dense food. Alongside the benefits outlined above, they are a rich source of antioxidant vitamin E, plus a group of carotenes which are thought to help keep the eyes healthy.