Avocados are high in fat, but you shouldn't avoid eating them, says Columbia Health. That's because they're a rich source of the type of fat that is linked to a decreased risk of stroke, high blood cholesterol and heart disease. By using avocado as a substitute for cheese or mayonnaise in your sandwiches or for part of the buttermilk in creamy salad dressings, you can significantly decrease your cholesterol and saturated fat intake. Remember that moderation is the key: Fat supplies 9 calories per gram, and consuming too many calories regularly can cause you to gain weight, even when it's from healthy foods.
1. Total Fat
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one whole, 201-gram avocado contains a total of 29.5 grams of fat. An avocado has 322 calories, and 265 are supplied by fat, meaning that about 82 percent of the energy you get from eating an avocado comes from fat. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that you should get between 20 and 35 percent of your daily caloric intake from fat. If you're on a 2,000-calorie diet, that would mean having 44 to 78 grams of fat daily. A whole avocado would fulfill between 38 to 67 percent of your fat intake for a day.
2. Saturated Fat
A whole avocado has 4.2 grams of saturated fat, or 14 percent of the avocado's total fat content. MayoClinic.com says that you should limit your saturated fat intake to 7 to 10 percent of your calorie intake per day. That's 15 to 22 grams a day for a woman on a 2,000-calorie diet, or 19 to 28 percent of your daily saturated fat allowance. If you use 1/2 cup of avocado slices instead of 1 ounce of cheddar cheese in a salad or sandwich, you'll consume only 1.5 grams of saturated fat instead of 5.9 grams.
3. Monounsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated fat is a type of fat found only in plant-based foods like nuts and vegetables oils like olive oil. Avocados are one of the richest sources, with a whole avocado containing 19.6 grams of monounsaturated fat, or 66 percent of the total fat in avocados. Columbia Health says that you should aim to get 34 to 50 grams of your daily fat intake from mono- or polyunsaturated fat, and an avocado would fulfill 39 to 58 percent of this recommendation. A high intake of monounsaturated fat can lower your LDL, or "bad," cholesterol levels and increase your HDL, or "good," cholesterol, which can help prevent heart disease.
4. Polyunsaturated Fat
Polyunsaturated fat, like monounsaturated fat, can help protect you from heart disorders and high blood cholesterol, especially when you use it as a way to replace saturated fat in your diet. A whole avocado provides 3.6 grams of polyunsaturated fat, making avocados an even richer source of heart-healthy fat when combined with the amount of monounsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fat makes up 12 percent of the fat content of an avocado. Other sources of polyunsaturated fat include nuts, seeds, fatty fish like salmon or herring and vegetable oils.
- Columbia Health: Avocados are Fatty - Are They Healthy?
- American Heart Association: Monounsaturated Fats
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Nutrient Data for 09037, Avocados, Raw, All Commercial Varieties
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fats - Know Which Types to Choose
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Nutrient Data for 01009, Cheese, Cheddar
- American Heart Association: Polyunsaturated Fats
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