Avocados are increasingly popular as “superfoods” and healthy toppings to put on toast or salads, but are avocados really as healthy as claimed? How many calories are in an avocado anyway, and should you eat a whole avocado at one time? It turns out that avocados actually are packed with health benefits (especially for your heart). Avocados do have more calories than you might expect and a serving is smaller than you might think.
Due to their high fat and very low sugar content, avocados aren’t the best pre-walking snacks (unless you pair them with something like a slice of toast). Avocados can be a great part of a healthy diet, and help you reach your weight loss or 10,000 step goals. Here’s a breakdown on the carbs, sugar, fat, calories and more in an avocado!
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Avocado Nutrition Information:
There are around 227-240 calories in an avocado. The amount depends on the size of the avocado. According to the California Avocado Commission, a medium avocado is around 150 grams and contains 240 calories. The NIH estimates that a medium Haas avocado has 227 calories and is 136g. The USDA estimates an avocado is 201 grams and contains 322 calories. Therefore, we can estimate that:
227-240 calories: a medium avocado
322+ calories: a large avocado
Medium Avocado Nutrition (136g-150g): 227-240 calories
- 2.6-3 g protein
- 21-24 g fat
- 11.8-12.5 g carbohydrates
- 9.2-9.7 g fiber
Avocado serving size
Most people don’t eat a whole avocado in one sitting. The pit and skin are inedible, so those can be thrown out. The recommended serving size for an avocado is about 1/5 to 1/3 of an avocado. That’s about 50g on the high side, which is smaller than you might think. Here are the calories in a serving of avocado:
1/3 of an avocado (50g):
- 80 calories
- 1g protein
- 8g fat
- 4g carbohydrates
- 3g fiber
That’s fewer calories than a banana (105 calories for a medium banana), but a banana is over twice the weight of an avocado.
How avocados can benefit walkers
Avocados are lower in calories, cholesterol and saturated fat than many fats that are added to snacks and meals. You can smash an avocado, or make simple guacamole by adding some lime juice and salt to add to toast or as a dip. You’ll likely want some carbs for a pre-walk snack, and you’re not likely to grab an avocado to bite down on during a walk. Avocados are probably best used as a swap for less healthy and higher calorie fats, as well as a component of a pre- or post-workout snack.
Calories in an avocado (plus comparisons)
An avocado has anywhere from 227-322 calories depending on how big it is. A single serving contains about 80 calories. People typically don’t eat raw avocado on its own (although you certainly can). Smashed avocado is often used as a topping for toast or added to sandwiches or salads.
Due to their high-fat content, avocados are actually relatively high in calories (compared to other fruits). However, avocadoes are lower in calories than most oils or fats (like butter) that you’d use instead. This means that avocados can be healthy in moderation, but just because they’re healthy doesn’t mean that you should eat avocados all day long.
A tablespoon of mayonnaise (13g) has about 94 calories (compared to 80 with 50g or 2 tablespoons of avocado). That 1 tablespoon of Mayo also contains 6mg of cholesterol (avocados have 0 cholesterol) and 88mg of sodium (an entire avocado has about 10g of sodium. 1 tablespoon of butter (14g) has 100 calories (compared to 80 in 1/3 avocado) as well as 31mg of cholesterol (0 in 1/3 an avocado) and 7.3g saturated fat (1g in 1/3 an avocado).
If you were to compare 50g of mayo or butter to 50g of avocado, this would look like:
- 50g avocado: 80 cal, 1g saturated fat,
- 50g mayonnaise: 340 cal, 6g saturated fat, 21g cholesterol
- 50g butter: 358 cal, 25g saturated fat, 107g cholesterol
Because avocados are mainly fat, they’re not typically a pre-workout snack on their own. Adding a bit of avocado to a slice of toast can give you a nutrient-packed pre or post-workout snack. Because fat has more calories than carbohydrates, avocados will have more calories per weight than most other fruits (like a banana or apple). You’d also have to consider the calories in the bread that you’re putting the avocado on. Still, a slice of wheat bread and 1/3 an avocado is about 150 calories (70 from the bread, 80 from the avocado). That’s less than an energy bar, and probably healthier too.
1/3 Avocado + 1 Slice of Wheat Bread
- 150 lb walker – 34 minutes
- 180 lb walker – 29 minutes
- 205 lb walker – 25 minutes
You’ll also probably feel more full than eating something like a banana, as you’ll have a combination of fat and carbohydrates.
Carbs in Avocados
There are around 12-13 grams of carbohydrates in an avocado, with slightly larger numbers for very big avocados. A serving of 1/3 of an avocado has only about 4g of carbs. Most of those carbs are actually in the form of fiber, which means that much of it cannot be digested as energy. A banana has 27-31 grams of carbohydrates by comparison. Carbs aren’t necessarily bad, but avocados are a relatively low sugar food.
Avocados contain a lot of fiber and healthy fats, which can help you feel full longer. 1/3 of an avocado isn’t a ton of food, though, so you may need to pair it with something else for a more filling snack.
Fiber in Avocados
Avocados have about 9-10g of fiber, or around 3g for a serving of 1/3 of an avocado. As we mentioned previously, fiber is great for your health. It helps fill you up and keep you regular, which can help with weight loss and fat burning. That single serving of an avocado will give you more fiber than a typical fiber supplement. Other higher-fat options like butter or mayo have no fiber at all. That means you’d be missing out on all of those great fiber benefits.
Fat in Avocados
Avocados do contain a relatively high amount of fat. An avocado has about 21-22g of fat, and a serving of avocado about 7-8g. Of that, only 1g is saturated fat which is typically thought of as “unhealthy” fat.
A serving of avocado contains about 6g of monounsaturated fat – mostly oleic acid. Oleic acid is also found in olive oil and is considered a “good fat” by many experts. Monounsaturated fats can help you lower cholesterol, so long as you don’t eat too much of it.
Protein in Avocados
Avocados contain about 2.5-3g of protein. That’s not insignificant but also not much – avocados are not really high-protein foods. A single serving of avocado has only about 1g of protein – similar to a banana.
Sugar in Avocados
Avocados have very little sugar – about 1g for a whole avocado and therefore about 1/3 of a gram for a serving of avocados. Although fruit sugar is natural and not necessarily unhealthy, eating avocados doesn’t pile a lot of sugar into your diet. Most of the carbs in avocados are in the form of fiber (see above), which cannot be fully digested and is great for your digestive system.
If you’re planning on eating avocados prior to a long walk, you may want to pair it with a more carb-heavy food to give you some quick energy for a walk. A slice of bread and avocado can be a good pairing.
Other health benefits of avocados
Packed with nutrients (including potassium)
Avocados are packed with nutrients, including vitamin K, folate, vitamin c and more. An avocado actually contains more potassium than a banana (which is known for its potassium content). As we noted in our article on bananas, Potassium helps lower blood pressure and stroke risk.
The good fat in avocados is great for your heart
There’s a reason CNN listed avocados on their 10 best foods for your heart. Monounsaturated fat, such as that found in avocados, can actually help reduce your risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association notes that a study showed that an avocado a day, as part of a healthy diet, helped lower “bad” cholesterol, increase “good” cholesterol and gave a variety of other heart health benefits. Walking is great for your heart as well, so get your steps in as well!
Fiber and healthy fats promote fullness
Avocados contain high amounts of fiber, and also healthy fats (monounsaturated fats). Both fiber and fats can help you feel more full, which can reduce your desire to snack or grab empty calories like sodas.
How can walkers benefit from avocados?
An avocado on its own is probably not a great pre-workout snack. It’s relatively small, low in carbs (for quick energy) and is hard to carry with you on a walk. A great option is to spread some on toast or make a quick avocado or guacamole sandwich if you need to eat on the go.
Replacing higher-calorie fats like butter and mayonnaise with avocado is a healthy calorie swap that can help you reduce calories and therefore lose weight. Remember that simply adding avocadoes to dishes you’re already making will add nutrition but will also add calories. You certainly can butter toast and add avocado for taste or nutritional value, but you will add additional calories over and above your regular buttered toast in that case.
Avocados make a great component of a healthy smoothie as well, as they’ll add creaminess and some healthy fats. Remember that you should eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods, and there’s no one “superfood” that will completely change your life when you add it to your diet.
Quick avocado tips
Avocados make great snacks, but as we mentioned a serving is usually around 1/3 of the avocado. Avocados can turn brown when exposed to the oxygen in the air. This is similar to what happens when you leave cut apples out. Discoloration actually doesn’t mean that your avocados are spoiled. It doesn’t look appealing and can alter the taste, so most people like to avoid it. AvocadosfromMexico.com recommends sprinkling lemon juice or water on the cut side of an avocado, then wrapping it with plastic wrap to keep it fresh. If you cut an avocado and decide it’s not ripe enough, you can also splash some lemon juice or water on the cut sides, press it back together and wrap it and put it back in the fridge.
Avocados don’t need to go into the fridge, but the will ripen faster (and thus spoil faster) if you leave them out. If your avocados are not ripe yet, try leaving them out for a few days. Ripe avocados typically last for at least 2-3 days.
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