The avocado, a fruit native to Central America, is a popular ingredient in Mexican dishes, salads and smoothies throughout the United States. Eating a plain avocado as a snack gives you a wide array of nutritional benefits. Because the average serving size is only about one-fifth of a medium avocado, eating the whole fruit gives you more vitamins, minerals and macronutrients, but you will also take in more calories and fat.
A raw avocado provides 4 grams of protein, a significant amount of protein for a fruit, and 13.5 grams of fiber, more than half the fiber the Institute of Medicine recommends that women get each day. It is also among the fruits with the lowest sugar content, with 1.3 grams of sugar per avocado. However, if you are trying to lose weight, eat avocados in moderation. Each avocado has 322 calories and 29 grams of fat. Although most of its fat comes from monounsaturated fatty acids, which help lower your LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, and boost your HDL, or "good" cholesterol, eating avocados regularly, without cutting calories elsewhere, could lead to weight gain.
2. B-Complex Vitamins
Snacking on a raw avocado provides two-thirds of the folate you need daily, as well as more than one-third of your recommended daily intake for vitamin B-6. It gives you one-fourth of the riboflavin and niacin you should get daily and more than one-tenth of your daily requirement for thiamin. B-complex vitamins work together to help your body use the energy you take in from food. They also help your body produce red blood cells, which transport oxygen to every part of your body.
3. Vitamins C, E and K
Avocados are rich in vitamin K, a nutrient that enables blood clotting when you are injured and protects you from excessive bleeding. Each avocado has 42 micrograms of vitamin K, one-half of the amount you should get daily. It also provides more than one-fourth of the vitamins C and E you need each day, giving you a potent dose of antioxidants that benefit your cells, strengthen your immune system and prevent free-radical damage that can lead to disease and premature aging.
An avocado is surprisingly high in essential minerals. Having a raw avocado as a snack provides about one-fifth of the magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc you need each day. These minerals benefit your nerve function, muscle development and bone health. Zinc acts as an antioxidant, benefiting your immune system. Its high potassium content can help keep your blood pressure at a safe level. An avocado is also a low-sodium food, with only 14 milligrams of sodium per fruit, less than 1 percent of your recommended daily limit for sodium.
- USDA Nutrient Database: Avocados, Raw
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes -- Vitamins and Minerals
- California Department of Public Health: Harvest of the Month -- Avocados
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes -- Macronutrients
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes -- Electrolytes and Water
- Medline Plus: B Vitamins
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