Ah, the mighty avocado. When eaten at the perfect moment ― after it ripens, but before it turns brown and mushy ― there are few things more delicious.
In fact, one Australian millionaire said overpriced (and addictive) avocado toast is the reason more millennials don’t own property, and the internet is buzzing after finding out that researchers are willing to pay people to eat an avocado every day for six months. That’s the dream!
There’s no question that we’re at the height of avocado-mania. But as we slather avocado atop our toast, put it in our smoothies and chow down on chips and guac as a pre-dinner snack, we have to wonder: Is there such a thing as OD’ing on avocados? Here’s what the experts have to say.
Why avocados are so good for you
First things first: Let’s talk about why avocados are not only delicious but also ridiculously good for you. According to Carolyn Brown, a New York-based nutritionist, the combination of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals make avocados a superfood.
“Avocados are fantastic for you because they contain over 20 vitamins and minerals — vitamin C, vitamin E, many of the B vitamins (energy vitamins), magnesium and potassium,” she said. “They are also loaded with ‘good fat,’ aka monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs).”
Brown added that eating healthy fats like the ones found in avocados helps keep you feeling full for longer, slows down digestion and can help you lose fat. “It’s crucial for every cell in your body — research shows a diet high in MUFAs may reduce depression and be protective against cognitive decline as we age,” she explained. “Avocados are also great for your skin and immune system.”
And if that’s not enough to send you out to the grocery store in search of a perfectly ripe avocado, Brown noted that avocados are also high in fiber, and they can help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.
What’s the avocado sweet spot?
Not to spoil the ending for you, but there is such a thing as eating too many avocados. Brown advises her clients to aim for half an avocado a day and to max out at one.
The average avocado contains 322 calories and 29 grams of fat, so half an avocado has 161 calories and 14.5 grams of fat. If you’re eating a full avocado, you’re getting 44 percent of your daily recommended fat intake and 21 percent of your recommended saturated fat intake through that avocado alone, so make sure to keep that in mind.
“You can actually overdo even the healthiest of foods,” she said. “A little variety is key because you require other nutrients that are not found in avocados, like protein and carbs.”
She says that while it would be nice to have avocado toast for breakfast, a smoothie with avocado for lunch, and salad with guac for dinner, that would be a day full of way too many avocados. “There are worse foods to overdo, of course,” she said. “But in general, I’d limit your avocado intake to one a day, and only have it for one meal.”
While Brown is right that there are worse foods to OD on, it’s especially important to watch your saturated fat intake, which avocados have a decent amount of. Too much saturated fat has been associated with increased levels of heart disease and stroke, and while overdoing it on the avocados once in a while won’t likely lead to any serious health consequences, it’s good to have that information in your back pocket.
Beware of oral allergy syndrome
Another reason to avoid overdoing it on the avocados is that you can develop oral allergy syndrome over time. Although OAS isn’t nearly as dangerous as other food allergies, it can lead to an annoying itchiness in your mouth and throat.
Brooklyn-based orthodontist Sue Liebman said that people who have an allergy to latex are particularly prone to OAS. “Symptoms usually appear directly after contact, although they can pop up an hour or so after ingestion,” she explained. “The reason for it seems to be a cross-reactivity or similarity of the proteins found in latex and in avocados or similar type fruits that cause such an allergic reaction.”
If this sounds familiar, good news: If you’re willing to consume your avocados cooked or even heat them up a bit, it likely won’t produce the same reaction.
While there is such a thing as too many avocados (bummer!), if you stick to half an avocado a day, your taste buds won’t be the only thing that thrives. Your health will, too.