The Buzz: Lower-Fat Avocados

What’s the buzz?
New “light” avocados could mean indulging in #avocadotoast more often

What does the science say?
There are more than 6 million photos tagged #avocado on Instagram. Whether it’s an avocado rose–adorned grain bowl, an avocado-based chocolate mousse, or baked avocado “fries,” this nutritious fruit is getting all the love.

Can there be too much of a good thing? Avocados, although very nutrient dense (full of healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients), are also calorie dense, providing about 250 calories for a medium avocado, most of which comes from fat. That’s why most dietitians don’t recommend you eat an entire avocado at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (Though, notably, the USDA did increase the recommended serving size of an avocado from one-fifth to one-third of a fruit last year.)

But some people don’t like moderation, which may be why the new “avocado light” from Isla Bonita has received so much attention in recent weeks. The company claims that it contains 30 percent less fat and calories but has an otherwise similar nutritional profile. Many dietitians and other health professionals feel less than enthusiastic about this new product, agreeing that the type of fat in avocados is beneficial to our health.

Avocados are a good source of both types of mono and polyunsaturated fat, which are linked to lower cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease, and improved insulin sensitivity. The fat content may also help you feel fuller after a meal, which can play a role in weight management.

Isla Bonita’s avocados, which are a different varietal than California or Hass avocados, are currently only available in Spain; however, for those looking to cut calories, Slimcados®, which are grown in Florida under different growing conditions than California or Hass avocados, also claim to have half the fat and about one-third the calories. But, since they contain more water, we can’t promise they taste the same or that they’ll offer that same buttery texture that we love about the more popular versions (here’s looking at you, Hass). They are said to hold their shape better and may provide some culinary benefits.

What’s the takeaway?
Mono and polyunsaturated fats found in avocados potentially provide many health benefits. Avocados (whether the light or regular version) offer a variety of nutrients and are part of a healthy diet — so choose the one you like best! Keep portion sizes in mind and don’t be afraid of a little plant-based fat in your diet.

Read more about the health benefits of avocados.