Avocados are everywhere. They’re topped on toast, sliced in salads, and smashed into guacamole. But according to experts, you’re likely eating too much of the superfood.
Unlike other fruits, a recommended serving of an avocado is not the entire thing. Instead, a healthy portion is about one-third of an average-sized avocado, according to Shauna Lindzon, a Toronto-based registered dietitian.
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To put things in perspective, a whole avocado can have anywhere between 240 to 400 calories depending on size, and upwards of 24 grams of fat.
So what does this mean for your avocado toast addiction? If you aim to eat 300 to 400 calories at breakfast, which is what’s recommended by health experts, an entire avocado on two pieces of toast would take you over your suggested caloric intake.
Even snacking on guacamole can throw your avocado portions overboard — especially if you aim to eat snacks that have around 200 calories.
“If people sit down to an avocado guacamole with a big bag of chips, they may eat too much of both the chips and the guacamole,” Lindzon said. “It is a good idea to pre-portion it out from the beginning, instead of sitting down with the entire bag of chips and a large container of guacamole.”
But aren’t avocados good for you?
It’s true that avocados are loaded with vitamins and minerals, including potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin K and lutein. They are also a good source of healthy fat and fibre. But you can get these benefits from eating a healthy portion of the food, and don’t need to overdo it.
“I think that people who love avocado feel that if they over-consume it, they are still eating a healthy food,” Lindzon said. Over-consuming foods rich in fat — even healthy fat — isn’t necessarily good for you.
One of the reasons avocados are touted as a superfood is because they contain both healthy fat and fibre, which keeps you full longer and helps prevent you from overeating other foods. But you only need a suggested serving of avocado to reap these health rewards and others, including helping control blood sugar and managing weight.
What happens when you eat too much avocado
Eating more than a standard serving of avocado typically means consuming more calories and fat than you need. This can be detrimental for weight-loss goals, and can also throw off your daily caloric intake if you’re not careful.
Plus, Lindzon said that too much of the tasty fruit can upset your stomach.
“Avocados contain substances called polyols or sorbitol which are carbohydrates that may affect people who have sensitive stomachs or irritable bowel syndrome,” she explained. “If they eat too much avocado in one sitting, it can cause bloating, diarrhea or intense pain in the gut.”
How to keep your avocado portions in check
To make sure you don’t eat more of the fruit than you need to, Lindzon suggests cutting your avocado into portions. If you’re someone who experiences digestive discomfort from avocados, start out with an eighth of an avocado and go from there.
If you’re trying to curb your avocado addiction, mixing the fruit with other ingredients might do the trick. Lindzon suggests pairing avocado with other fruits and vegetables in salsas or salads.
“I love making an apple pomegranate guacamole, which is loaded with colourful fruits and herbs,” Lindzon said. “This way you are getting loads of fibre, healthy fats, and of course lots of flavour.”
Although it’s advised to eat a healthy portion of avocado, Lindzon said eating a whole avocado is a lot better than eating refined or processed foods. In other words, eating more than you should of the superfood won’t kill you.
“Eating a box of refined crackers, which is mainly carbohydrates, you will take in the same amount of calories, but feel much more satisfied from the avocado,” she said.
“Therefore, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with eating more than the recommended serving size of avocado, as long as you have a balanced whole foods-based diet with lots of variety.”