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29th January, 20214 min read

What are the health benefits of avocado?

What are the health benefits of avocado?
Medical reviewer: Dr Ann Nainan
Author: Daniel Piggott
Last reviewed: 25/01/2021
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our editorial policy

In recent years, avocado has become very popular with people interested in healthy eating and wellness, with some nutrition experts referring to it as a ‘superfood’. But are the alleged health benefits of eating avocado true?

While there are some avocado health benefits that are proven, there’s a lack of scientific evidence for some of the other claims you might have heard. Read on to discover more about the nutritional benefits of this green fruit, and how much you should be eating.

Nutritional benefits of avocado

Like all fruits and vegetables, avocados contain many nutrients that are important for your health, including fibre and a variety of vitamins and minerals. They’re a good source of vitamins C, K and E, folate and potassium, for example.

Two of the most important nutrients avocados provide are monounsaturated fats and vitamin B6, so let’s look at the benefits of these in a bit more detail.

Monounsaturated fats

Avocado is unusual in being a fruit that’s high in fat. But the good news is that most of this is what's called monounsaturated fat, which is also found in olive oil and some nuts.

Monounsaturated fats are known as ‘good fats’, along with polyunsaturated fats, which are found in vegetable oils, oily fish and seeds. In contrast, ‘bad fats’ are the saturated fats, found in dairy products such as butter and meat, and trans fats, found in processed foods such as biscuits and cakes, and ‘junk’ food.

Eating a lot of saturated fat is linked to having more ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol in your blood. This is what’s known as having high cholesterol, which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease and stroke.

However, the monounsaturated fats found in avocados can help maintain your levels of ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol while also reducing levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol – so they may protect your heart.

Vitamin B6

Avocados are a good source of vitamin B6, which is also found in bananas, oily fish and some nuts.

Vitamin B6 is involved in several important functions in your body, including:

  • making healthy red blood cells
  • using and storing energy from protein and carbohydrates in food
  • supporting your immune system – which stops you from getting ill – by making new immune cells and antibodies

Avocado on toast

What are the other possible health benefits of avocado?

Some research suggests that there’s a link between having high cholesterol and your risk of osteoarthritis. It’s unclear whether lowering your cholesterol – by eating more of the monounsaturated fats found in avocados, for example – can improve this joint condition, however.

Some of the nutrients found in avocado have been linked to lowering blood pressure and reducing eye problems such as cataracts – because of the potassium, vitamins and antioxidants it contains. But these claims are based on small studies, and aren’t proven.

What are the health benefits of avocado oil?

You may have heard about possible additional health benefits from avocado oil applied to skin (rather than eaten).
Areas of research are looking at if avocado oil may help with gum disease, the skin condition psoriasis and wound healing.

How much avocado should I eat?

For a healthy diet, it’s recommended that we eat at least 5 portions of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day. One portion weighs about 80g – so about half a typical avocado would count as 1 of your 5 daily portions.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), however, you shouldn’t get more than 30% of your daily energy intake from fat. This includes both ‘bad’ fats, and the ‘good’ fats you get from avocado, so it’s worth bearing this in mind.

That said, eating 1 portion of avocado a day shouldn’t be a problem, as long as you’re not getting too much fat from other foods and you’re eating a variety of other fruit and vegetables.

Key points

  • avocado is a food that’s become increasingly popular as a ‘superfood’
  • it has proven nutritional benefits, including being a good source of ‘healthy’ fats and vitamin B6
  • avocado and avocado oil have been claimed to have other possible health benefits, but these are unproven
  • half an avocado (80g) a day can be part of a healthy, balanced diet

Facts about fat - NHS [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2020 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Coronavirus outbreak: nutrition and immunity – be careful of myths and false promises - British Nutrition Foundation [Internet]. Nutrition.org.uk. 2020 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Heart Health [Internet]. Bda.uk.com. 2020 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Preventing High Cholesterol [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Cholesterol [Internet]. Bda.uk.com. 2020 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Healthy Eating Tips [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Common concerns during pregnancy - British Nutrition Foundation - Page #1 [Internet]. Nutrition.org.uk. n.d. [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Healthy eating tips for people with arthritis - British Nutrition Foundation - Page #1 [Internet]. Nutrition.org.uk. n.d. [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses [Internet]. PubMed. 2013 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil [Internet]. PubMed. 2005 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Plasma lutein and zeaxanthin and other carotenoids as modifiable risk factors for age-related maculopathy and cataract: the POLA Study [Internet]. PubMed. 2006 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Inhibition of prostate cancer cell growth by an avocado extract: role of lipid-soluble bioactive substances [Internet]. PubMed. 2005 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Fruit and vegetables - how to get five a day [Internet]. Bda.uk.com. 2020 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Healthy diet [Internet]. Who.int. 2020 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Effect of interleukin-1beta on transforming growth factor-beta and bone morphogenetic protein-2 expression in human periodontal ligament and alveolar bone cells in culture: modulation by avocado and soybean unsaponifiables [Internet]. PubMed. 2006 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Effect of semisolid formulation of persea americana mill (avocado) oil on wound healing in rats [Internet]. Pubmed. 2013 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Vitamin B(12) cream containing avocado oil in the therapy of plaque psoriasis [Internet]. PubMed. 2001 [cited 16 December 2020]. Available here

Avocados, raw, all commercial varieties Nutrition Facts & Calories [Internet]. Nutritiondata.self.com. 2021 [cited 18 January 2021]. Available here

Vitamins and minerals - B vitamins and folic acid [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2021 [cited 18 January 2021]. Available here

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Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.

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