Avocado is a unique product. It contains almost the full range of vitamins and minerals and is besides rich in fiber and good fats. I definitely recommend everyone to eat avocado daily. Yes really, daily. This blog is all about the nutritional profile of avocado.
First a few words about where avocado comes from
Avocado (Lat. Persea Americana), also known as the “alligator pear” is originally from Mexico, where it was already grown in the 5th century BC. In 1871 avocado trees from Mexico were first imported to the United States, Santa Barbara, California. There a mass cultivation of avocado begun. Around 1950 there were more than 25 varieties of avocado known in California, the Fuerte sort took care of about two-thirds of commercial production. In the 1970s a huge expansion of industrial production of avocados took place, and Fuerte was increasingly replaced by the Hass variety. Hass is still the most sold sort of avocado in the world. An average Hass avocado contains about 135 g of edible flesh with a pleasant, creamy and smooth texture covered in a thick dark green or purple-black bumpy skin.
Avocado follows a relatively straight path from the farm to the market: it requires no fertilizers, preservatives and flavor enhancers. The skin of avocado is an excellent natural protective barrier. It basically eliminates the need for packaging and protects the fruit from diseases and insects. This makes it easy to grow avocados in an ecological fashion.
A medium avocado (about 200 grams with the pit) contains:
- 320 calories
- 14 grams of fiber (half of the recommended daily allowance, or RDA, for women and one third of men)
- 45 mcg of vitamin K (55% RDA)
- 160 mg of folic acid (40% RDA)
- 20 mg of vitamin C (33% RDA)
- 2.8 mg vitamin B5 (28% RDA)
- 0.5 mg vitamin B6 (26% RDA)
- 4 mg of vitamin E (20% RDA)
- 975 mg of potassium (28% DV)
- 0.4 mg of copper (19% RDA)
- 60 mg of magnesium (15% RDA)
- 0.3 mg of manganese (14% RDA)
- 1.4 mg of zinc (10% RDA)
In addition avocado also contains (in much smaller quantities): vitamin B1, B2, B3, iron and phosphorus.
In itself avocado contains little vitamin A. However it enhances the absorption of provitamin A (carotenoids) from other products . Eating foods rich in carotenoids (for instance carrots and tomatoes) together with avocado increases carotenoid absorption from these foods. This happens due to the good fats avocado contains. Vitamin A and carotenoids are namely fat-soluble, so they will only be absorbed properly in the presence of fat. Combining avocados with carrots and tomatoes is definitely a great nutrition strategy.
One avocado contains approximately 3.4 grams of oleic acid of the Omega-6 family. This fatty acid lowers the “bad” cholesterol in the blood and thereby contributes to the health of the heart. For reference, the RDA of omega-6 fatty acids is 6 grams for men and 4 grams for women. Avocado also contains other microelements which indirectly affect the heart health of the heart.  This concerns in particular vitamin E and lutein (both antioxidants needed to combat oxidative stress in cells); folic acid (lowers the dangerous levels of homo-cysteine in the blood), and potassium (reduces the blood pressure).
Kopec et. J Nutr. 2014 Aug; 144(8):1158-66. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.187674. Epub 2014 Jun 4. Avocado consumption enhances human postprandial provitamin A absorption and conversion from a novel high-β-carotene tomato sauce and from carrots. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24899156
Mark L. Dreher and Adrienne J. Davenport..Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013 May; 53(7): 738–750. Published online 2013 May 2. doi: 1080/10408398.2011.556759 Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664913/