Side Effects of Eating Too Much Avocado, According to Science
Whether you prefer spreading it on toast, tossing it onto a salad, slicing it on an Instagram-worthy sandwich, or mashing it up into guacamole, there's no denying that avocado has become a bona fide culinary craze in recent years. And even though avocado does boast so-called "healthy" fats, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. So, what exactly happens when you eat too much avocado? Well, experts say that consistently overdoing it could potentially negate some of the benefits of eating too much avocado over the long term.
"The fat in avocado is primarily monounsaturated, which lowers 'bad' LDL cholesterol, and may increase 'good' HDL cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease," says Andres Ayesta, a registered dietitian and founder of Vive Nutrition. "It's also a powerhouse source of nutrients, with high levels of vitamin K, folate, potassium, and many B vitamins."
According to the National Institutes of Health, monounsaturated fats also contain vitamin E, which helps to support your vision as well as a healthy immune system. The American Heart Association notes that by lowering your LDL cholesterol, these fats can also reduce your risk of stroke.
Let's get one thing clear. Fat is not something to be feared—and in fact, is an essential substance that protects your organs, gives you energy, and helps your body better absorb certain vitamins. That said, Ayesta says one medium avocado contains 240 calories and 24 grams of fat—which is pretty eye-opening when you consider that the daily recommended intake for fat is about 44 to 77 grams if you eat 2,000 calories a day.
With that in mind, you might want to reconsider your portions—because these are just some of the side effects you may experience by eating too much avocado. Here's what you should know, and for more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
You might gain weight.
According to Ayesta, avocado can be a super easy food to overeat because it has a high energy density, meaning that it has a high number of calories in a very small portion.
"Since avocados are a great source of nutrients and healthy fats, there are definitely worse foods to overeat," he explains. "However, as with any food, eating avocados in excess will lead to weight gain. If eating large amounts of avocado in a day results in taking in more calories than an individual burns, the excess energy will be stored as fat. More than the recommended amounts of fats in a day does not add any additional nutritional benefit, even if these are considered 'good' fats."
Whether or not you gain weight will depend on just how frequently you're eating too much avocado, how much fat you're consuming from other foods, and your physical activity level, among other factors. The bottom line, though, is that if you're not burning off those extra calories from fat, your body is going to hang onto it. So, if you're aiming to maintain or lose weight, it may be wise to measure out a portion of avocado so you don't accidentally overload on it. Shena Jaramillo, MS, RD, advises sticking to about 2 ounce-servings, or about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup.
You'll probably miss out on other nutrients.
Another issue with loading on the avocado? It can be almost too satiating. When too high of a percentage of your calorie intake comes from fat, you're probably neglecting other key nutrients.
"The fat content may displace other nutrients in the meal because you might not feel as hungry to complete your full meal," explains Jaramillo.
In other words, due to the high fat and fiber content in avocado, you may not want to eat other foods—meaning you'll then miss out on the additional nutrients they have to offer.
"Variety is key," says Ayesta. "It's best to have a balance of protein, carbs, and fats at each meal to reach the acceptable ranges for each macronutrient and get all the micronutrients you need in a day."
Speaking of nutrients, This Is Why You Should Get Nutrients From Food, Not Supplements.
You may suffer from adverse GI effects.
Just because you aren't allergic to avocados doesn't mean it won't cause an adverse reaction. Avocados contain small-chain carbohydrates called polyols that can have a laxative-like effect when consumed in large quantities. And if you have an avocado intolerance or sensitivity to these natural sugars, you may also experience bloating, gas, or an upset stomach up to 48 hours after eating it.
You might consume more fiber than your body can handle.
"Avocados are a significant source of fiber, with a single avocado providing about half of the daily recommended fiber intake," explains Jaramillo. "While fiber is incredibly important for health (and most Americans aren't getting enough), having too much at one meal can lead to bloating, abdominal pain, and constipation, especially if you're not used to a high fiber diet."
Overloading on fiber can be especially problematic for those with irritable bowel syndrome or other gastrointestinal disorders.
You could experience inflammation.
Although the majority of the fat in an avocado is the monounsaturated kind, this fruit does contain about 3.2 grams of saturated fat per 1-cup serving. That means that roughly 15% of the fat in avocados is saturated. This is worth noting given that consuming too much saturated fat can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
"Saturated fat has been shown to increase inflammation in the arteries after a single meal and lead to heart disease over time," says Ayesta. "However, this isn't a big concern unless you're eating multiple avocados each day."
The bottom line is that the fat provided by avocados is significantly healthier than the kind you'll find in processed or fried foods—but that doesn't mean you're off the hook in terms of minding your portion sizes.
"As with any food choice, it's important to look at avocado intake within the context of someone's overall diet," says Ayesta. "Although the FDA suggests a serving size of 1/3 of a medium avocado, this can't be used as a standard rule that applies to everyone. Someone who needs more calories in a day (based on greater body size, more lean muscle, more physical activity, etc.) will naturally require more fat in a day."
The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) is a suggested percentage of an individual's daily calories that should come from carbohydrates, fats, and protein. According to Ayesta, that range is 20 to 35% for fat. For example, someone who eats 2,500 calories a day needs 56 to 97 grams of fat daily—whereas someone who only requires 1,600 calories a day should stick to 36 to 62 grams of fat daily. Ideally, though, you also want to be nourishing your body with other healthy fat sources as well in order to reap the widest range of benefits.
"I'd recommend 1/3 to 1/2 an avocado daily, to leave room for fat from other sources, such as nuts, fatty fish, and olive oil," says Ayesta.
And don't forget to space out your fat intake throughout the day, too—Ayesta says this strategy can increase satiety and promote the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Now that you know how much avocado is good to actually have on a daily basis, here are 18 Things You Had No Idea You Could Do with Avocados.
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