Avocados have become an increasingly popular food in recent years, with people blending the creamy fruit in their smoothies or slicing it to layer on top of toast.
This green fruit has become a true staple in kitchens around the world – and for good reason. Avocados deliver a variety of health benefits and are a versatile ingredient when cooking, said CNN nutrition contributor Lisa Drayer.
She uses the fatty fruit in soups, dips and even chocolate truffles. Depending on how you bake with it, avocados can be an excellent fat substitute that won’t make your desserts taste like an avocado, she noted.
They are chock-full of nutrients and can be a beneficial part of a balanced diet. These are four ways avocados are good for your health:
1. They are a great source of potassium
A 100-gram (3.5-ounce) serving of avocado contains 485 milligrams (0.02 ounces) of potassium, according to the US Department of Agriculture. In comparison, a banana has 358 milligrams (0.01 ounces) of potassium per 100 grams.
The mineral helps regulate nerve function and move nutrients into cells while taking away waste, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
Potassium also works to combat high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. High levels of sodium can increase blood pressure, the CDC said, and potassium allows more sodium to leave the body through our urine. This in turn lowers our blood pressure, the American Heart Association said.
2. They’re packed with monounsaturated fats
Monounsaturated fats are fat molecules with one unsaturated carbon bond, Drayer said. In simple terms, it’s an unsaturated fat that works to lower LDL cholesterol without affecting the good HDL cholesterol, she added.
When you have too much LDL cholesterol, it hardens along the edges of your arteries and narrows them, according to the Mayo Clinic. This reduces blood flow through the arteries, which can cause blood clots and other medical complications.
3. They are also high in fiber
Avocados have nearly 7 grams (0.25 ounces) of fiber per 100 grams (3.5 ounces), according to the USDA.
Foods with more fiber tend to keep you satiated longer than low-fiber foods do, the Mayo Clinic said. This makes avocados a great choice for people who are watching their weight, according to the Mayo Clinic.
4. Avocados are rich in folate
The fatty fruit is rich in folate, with 81 micrograms (0.0000028 ounces) per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of avocado, according to the USDA.
Folate is a B vitamin that is important for proper brain function and healthy pregnancies, Drayer said.
The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements recommends women of childbearing age have 400 micrograms (0.000014 ounces) of folate per day. Pregnant women should increase their intake to 600 micrograms (0.000021 ounces) per day, according to the agency..
Folate can help prevent birth defects, specifically those that affect a baby’s brain and spine, during the early weeks of pregnancy, according to the CDC. Around half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, the article said, which is why it’s important for all women of childbearing age to have enough folate as part of their regular diet.
The bottom line
Avocados are a great source of nutrients, and they can help lower LDL cholesterol. Plus, they can keep you satisfied longer.
Like other high-fat foods, avocados are calorically dense, meaning there are a lot of calories per gram. A serving of 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of avocado clocks in at 160 calories, according to the USDA.
SIGN UP FOR CNN’s Fitness, But Better newsletter series
As long as you are conscious of your avocado intake because they are high in calories, they are a great addition to your diet, Drayer said.
Guacamole is a popular dish made with avocados that is easy to make and a crowd favorite. Here is a classic recipe as well as a recipe with a unique spin on the dip with sun dried tomato and bacon.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated that avocados are high in omega-3 fatty acids. They are not.