Satisfyingly creamy, reliably satiating, highly nutritious and exceptionally versatile, few foods have as much natural appeal as an avocado. Whether you spread it on toast, toss it into a salad, serve it with eggs or blend it into a smoothie, avocado is a simple way to boost your intake of dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamins C and E. Because its rich monounsaturated fat content makes the tropical fruit both heart-healthy and relatively high in calories, however, it’s important to watch your total calorie -- and fat -- intake when avocado is a major part of your daily diet.
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Weight Gain Basics
Although your gender, age, physical activity, stress levels and genes all have an impact on your body weight, it's your diet that arguably has the biggest effect on how much you weigh. A daily diet that generally balances the amount of calories you consume with what your body uses will help you maintain your weight over time, while a diet that provides more calories than you need -- a state known as calorie imbalance -- causes weight gain. While it's possible to get too many calories from a single food, your overall diet is what determines whether or not you're typically in a state of calorie balance or imbalance.
Calories In One Avocado
The amount of calories one avocado contributes to your daily intake depends on its size as well as its type. California avocados, which have dark, textured skin and are relatively small, deliver almost 30 percent more calories per ounce than do Florida avocados, which have smooth green skins and are typically larger. Because Florida avocados tend to be larger, however, an entire avocado will generally add more calories to your daily diet than the California variety -- one average-size California avocado provides close to 230 calories, while an average-size Florida avocado delivers about 365 calories. That means that the average California avocado meets about 12 percent -- and the average Florida avocado meets about 18 percent -- of the daily calorie needs for someone on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Daily Fat Recommendations
When you're including an entire avocado in your daily diet, calories shouldn't be your only consideration; your total fat intake is equally as important. Most healthy adults should get 20 to 35 percent of their calories from fat. This range -- which runs between 400 and 700 calories for a 2,000-calorie diet -- is recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, because it provides sufficient amounts of essential nutrients and is associated with a reduced risk of chronic disease. While avocados provide modest amounts of carbohydrates and protein, the majority of their calories come from fat, mostly in the form of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. The average-sized California avocado contains about 21 grams, or nearly 190 calories, of total fat, while the average-sized Florida avocado contains just over 30 grams, or about 275 calories, of fat.
The Total Diet Approach
Packed with heart-healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, avocados are a healthy addition to virtually any diet. If they're your primary source of fat in a calorie-balanced diet that's otherwise rich in nutrient-dense foods, you probably won't gain weight by eating a whole avocado each day. If, on the other hand, you frequently pair avocado with cheese, eggs or meat, or you don't have a solid grasp of how many calories and other fat sources you may need to cut to include an avocado a day, you may find yourself steadily gaining weight. Because it takes an extra 3,500 calories to gain a pound of fat, adding 365 calories, or one Florida avocado, to your unaltered daily diet could cause you to gain about 3 pounds per month.
- USDA Food and Nutrition Service: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, Chapter 2 -- Balancing Calories to Manage Weight
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Food and Diet
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Avocados, Raw, California
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Avocados, Raw, Florida
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes -- Macronutrients
- The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Choose Sensibly
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Ways to Shave Calories