By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
Not all fat is created equal. We all know that fat from fried food and red meat can lead to weight gain and clogged arteries, but how about fat from healthy sources like avocado? Healthy fats are always portrayed as the superhero, helping your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins and giving you long-lasting energy. But can too much be bad for you?
Avocados are a food high in healthy fat, specifically the unsaturated kind. These days, everyone seems to eat avocados with everything and feel great about it as a “healthy choice.” Honestly, it’s a little alarming! Just think about how much avocado toast, guacamole, and avocado smoothies are eaten every day. Yes, avocados do contain unsaturated fats that are needed for good health, but like everything, too much of a good thing can also be bad!
Why? Foods that are predominately made up of fat are high in calories—and avocados are no different! In fact a single avocado has 30 grams of fat which is higher than a large order of fast food French fries from McDonalds. This means when you’re eating these as a healthy addition to your diet you may actually be packing on extra pounds. Avocados still contain saturated fat, too. So aside from weight gain they can still cause heart disease if eaten in excess.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults only eat 5-6% of their daily calories in saturated fat. That equals 120 calories in a 2,000-calorie diet. A single avocado contains approximately 30% of that limit. If you are eating other foods with saturated fat—which you probably are even without knowing it—and two or more avocados, you are most likely going
over that limit by a longshot.
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Generally, it’s suggested you only eat about half an avocado a day. Instead of adding them into your diet, try to use them to replace saturated fat. This is going to require a little extra effort. You have to read your food labels! It’s obvious that some foods have saturated fat, like cheese. But others, such as croutons, are probably not what you would initially think of. Even the fact that avocados have saturated fat may come as a surprise to most of you! So read those labels and do your research.
Saturated fat shouldn’t be completely forbidden, but you should eat them in smaller amounts. Choose low fat yogurt, leaner cuts of red meat and use less butter. Of course, when you can you, should always replace them with healthier sources like your avocados, fish and nuts.