Avocado 101: Nutrition Facts & Benefits

How Many Carbs Are in an Avocado?

If you’re new to the keto diet, you may be wondering what tasty foods you can eat. You’ll be pleased to learn (if you didn’t know already) that avocados are an excellent keto-friendly food that are packed with a trove of health benefits in addition to being low-carb.

Keto-Friendly Avocado

Sticking to low-carb foods is the crux of the ketogenic diet. The process of your body burning fat instead of carbs for fuel is known as ketosis, which is a normal metabolic process. The keto diet loves ketosis because it allows for the consumption of fewer calories minus the hunger pangs. Perfect for weight loss goals!

If you don’t already know, it’s important to understand in-depth of what is ketosis and how your body operates during it.

Avocados are the perfect keto food because they have very few net carbs, they’re packed with fiber, and they contain high monounsaturated fats. You can eat them with some salt and pepper or even soy sauce to make a delicious and nutritious snack.

The Importance of Fats on a Keto Diet

Sticking to a diet that’s low on carbs and high on fats is the whole premise of the ketogenic diet because it leads to ketosis which then leads to weight loss[1]. While fats play a very important role in our overall health, keep in mind that not all are created equal.

The Three Main Fats – Good vs Bad Fats

There are three main fats we see in our everyday foods: saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats. While there are plenty of misconceptions and misinformation that have accrued over the years about fats, the fact is that all three of these fats are essential to our overall health and should always be a part of our diets.

We can identify what type of fat we are ingesting by the amount that is dominant in the mixture. For example, an avocado contains roughly 60% of monounsaturated fat and butter contains about 60% of saturated fat.

Here is a quick breakdown of the different fats and which ones are better than others for your health:

Saturated Fats: You might not have thought it, but saturated fats are necessary in our diets and help keep our immune system healthy. They also work to maintain our testosterone levels and keep our bone density normal.

A common misconception is that saturated fats are dangerous to our health, but studies have shown[2] them to be important components of our diet and have no association to heart disease. Some foods that contain saturated fats include eggs, butter, and meat.

Polyunsaturated Fats: These fats are much more accepted than saturated fats, but are often highly processed. Studies reveal[3] a direct correlation between eating too many foods containing these fats (such as vegetable oils) and increased rates of heart disease.

The key thing to remember is that processed polyunsaturated fats are bad, however, natural polyunsaturated fats are good.

Monounsaturated Fats: These fats are generally considered to be healthy and are found in foods like avocados, nuts, and olive oil. Some benefits to consuming these fats include an improvement in insulin resistance and better cholesterol levels.

Trans Fats: While they aren’t included in fatty foods (only those that are processed), trans fats are still worth mentioning here. These fats have also been linked to heart disease and can worsen your cholesterol levels. So keep away from these fats!

As already mentioned, avocados contain monounsaturated fats (good fats) and are widely considered to be a superfood due to all the health benefits associated with eating them.

Monounsaturated fats alone have been proven to lower blood pressure, increase HDL (high-density lipoprotein), reduce insulin resistance, protect skin from photoaging (the premature aging of skin), and reduce belly fat.

More Benefits of Eating Avocados

It’s Nutritious!

Avocados are incredibly nutritious and are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and fiber. The new adage is “an avocado a day keeps the doctor away”, and truer words have never been spoken.

This fruit has long been prized for its high nutrient value. Some of the most abundant nutrients found in an avocado include:

  • Vitamin K: 26% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance)
  • Folate: 20% of the RDA
  • Vitamin C: 17% of the RDA
  • Vitamin B5: 14% of the RDA
  • Vitamin B6: 13% of the RDA
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the RDA
  • Potassium: 14% of the RDA
  • It also contains small amounts of Manganese, Magnesium, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin A, Phosphorous, B1, B2, and B3.

Heart Health

Avocados have been shown to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides while also increasing the good (HDL) cholesterol.

This is pretty major when it comes to a healthy heart as your lipid composition can greatly determine how healthy your heart is.

Higher levels of LDL and triglycerides has long been correlated with higher risks of developing cardiovascular heart disease.

Weight Loss

Avocados have been linked to hunger reduction, increased satiation, and even post-prandial blood glucose levels.

Incorporating avocados in your diet could help you naturally consume fewer calories, especially since they are high in fiber which tends to leave you feeling fuller for longer. Being high in fiber and low in carbs have been shown to promote weight loss.

Using the keto diet for weight loss is why people usually sign up for it in the first place, so be sure to add in an avocado to optimize the process.

Potassium

Research shows that potassium is one nutrient we simply aren’t getting enough of[4]. Avocados are very high in potassium, containing 14% of the RDA compared to bananas, which only contain 10%.

High potassium intake has been linked to reduced blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure.

Skin Health

This superfood even has its place in promoting skin care. Eating an avocado a day can be great for your skin due to its bioactive compounds, such as lutein.

Lutein has antioxidant properties that work to protect the skin by filtering high-energy UV rays and reducing their oxidative damage.

Summary

You’ll never have to search far and wide for an article or research study promoting the wealth of benefits that come from avocados, on or off the ketogenic diet. With its high concentration of valuable nutrients and good fats, you can be sure that an avocado a day will keep the doctor away.

More Reading:

The Best Exogenous Ketone Supplements – 2018 Review

The Different Types of Ketone Supplements

References:

[1] Paoli A., Bosco G., Camporesi E. M., Mangar D. (2015). Ketosis, ketogenic diet and food intake control: a complex relationship. Front. Psychol. 6:27.

[2] Siri-Tarino PW et al. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2010;91:535-46.

[3] Shen, Jian & Johnson, Victor & M Sullivan, Lisa & Jacques, Paul & Magnani, Jared & Lubitz, Steven & Pandey, Shivda & Levy, Daniel & S Vasan, Ramachandran & Quatromoni, Paula & Junyent, Mireia & Ordovas, Jose & Benjamin, Emelia. (2011). Dietary factors and incident atrial fibrillation: The Framingham Heart Study. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 93. 261-6. 10.3945/ajcn.110.001305.

[4] M. Katherine Hoy and Joseph D. Goldman. Potassium Intake of the U.S. Population, What We Eat In America, NHANES 2009–2010; The FASEB Journal 2013 27:1_supplement, 621.7-621.7.

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