It is common to have doubts about whether the avocado is a fruit or a vegetable. Although it is as healthy as most of them, it actually has a completely different nutritional composition and texture.
Written and verified by the nutritionist Anna Vilarrasa on November 30, 2021.
Last update: November 30, 2021
Day after day, it gains popularity, presence at the tables and many followers. It is a versatile food with an interesting nutritional contribution; although at the time of classifying it, many doubt if the avocado is a fruit or a vegetable.
This type of confusion about the nature of some foods is common. To clear this doubt, we tell you that avocado is a fruit. Read on if you also want to know its benefits and how you can use it.
What is avocado: a fruit or a vegetable?
At the botanical level, there is no doubt about whether the avocado is a fruit or a vegetable. It is a fruit that comes from the tree with the same name. It is believed that its origin is in south central Mexico, although today it is cultivated in many regions with a warm climate.
The avocado fruit (Persea Americana) is a berry that contains a single large seed. It has a light green pulp, a creamy texture and thick, rough, black skin. Its shape changes depending on the variety and can be spherical, ovate or pear-like.
Perhaps, you may find it shocking that avocado is a fruit. Actually, it presents some differences in relation to most of them. It does not stand out for having a sweet taste or a light texture. In addition, its composition is not abundant in water and. instead, it has a much higher amount of lipids than usual.
On a culinary level it is also more often associated with vegetables. It is usually more present in savory dishes and is rarely eaten alone as an orange, an apple, or a melon slice.
Beyond avocado: differences between fruit and vegetables
Both fruits and vegetables are plant-based foods. However, they vary greatly between them. At the botanical level, the distinction between the two is that they come from different parts of the plants.
A) Yes, the flower that is born from the plant and that contains seeds inside is considered as fruit. On the other hand, vegetables consist of other components of these plants such as stems, roots, bulbs, leaves or flower buds.
From a culinary point of view, these are usually differentiated by taste. Fruits are, in general, sweeter and are eaten as dessert, snack or to prepare juices. Instead, vegetables are often served as the main dish or as a side dish.
It is this gastronomic use that usually generates doubts about whether the avocado is a fruit or a vegetable. But it is not the only case, because theTomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, cucumbers, and bell peppers are also fruits that are eaten as vegetables.
Avocados stand out for their contribution of fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, potassium and folates, among others. Due to all its components, introducing them in moderation as part of a healthy diet can have health benefits.
Improves the quality of the diet
This statement is derived from the results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey(NHANES) of the United States of the year 2008. In it, it is observed that Avocado consumption is associated with better overall diet quality and a higher intake of some nutrients (unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin K, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium).
Promotes the maintenance of body weight
Avocado is one of the fruits with the highest amount of calories per 100 grams of weight. This fact, added to the amount of fat it contains, has made it a “forbidden” food for people who want to lose or maintain weight.
However, the data do not agree with this belief. In the aforementioned health survey (NHANES), it is observed that avocado consumers have lower body weight, body mass index and waist circumference compared to non-consumers.
Reduction of metabolic risk
In this same study, it is observed that avocado consumers have higher levels of HDL cholesterol, lower weight, lower body mass index and a smaller waist circumference.
Better cardiovascular health
For years, there has been evidence that a diet with more fruits and vegetables is positive for heart health (among other diseases). The United States Department of Health recommends substituting a portion of saturated fat and trans of the diet by monounsaturated lipids. This change reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
And this is precisely what differentiates avocado from other fruits. Due to the high presence of fats, it contains a considerable amount of omega 9 (monounsaturated) fatty acids like those of olives.
Contributes to eye and brain health
The consumption of avocados favors the absorption of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that accumulate in the brain and eyes. Therefore, it is a good idea to combine this fruit with carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, spinach or tomato sauce.
Macular pigment density is associated with cognitive function in adults. Furthermore, these findings also show that a higher lutein level is associated with better cognitive performance. On the other hand, zeaxanthin has a valuable role in prevention of problems such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
Contribution of antioxidants
Avocado helps absorb antioxidants from other foods, but it itself also contains an interesting amount. Apart from contributing to eye health, antioxidants have the ability to prevent cell damage associated with free radicals.
This alteration could be associated with the appearance of some pathologies (cardiovascular or cancer among others). Likewise, it has been observed that they exert a neuroprotective effect against diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
In the kitchen, avocado can be used as a fruit or vegetable
Avocado is a fruit with many culinary uses and great versatility. It is much more common to find it in savory dishes such as guacamole, salads or toast with cheese. However, little by little, it has been gaining a place as a star ingredient in sweet preparations and desserts.
If you are not in the habit of using it or want to expand its possibilities, We offer you some ideas to include avocado in your daily diet:
One of the easiest (but no less delicious) ways to try avocados is to eat them plain.. It is only necessary to open in half, remove the bone and season with salt and pepper. Also, you can try to fill the hole of the seed with an egg and cook it for a few minutes in the oven.
What topping of salads combines very well with all kinds of vegetables, even with some fruits such as mango and apple.
With avocado and vegetable cream you get a very original and tasty vegan mayonnaise.
You can serve it as an accompaniment to any dish: rice, quinoa, vegetables and even soups. In addition, its creaminess provides a great texture to fruit smoothies or vegetable creams.
In some cakes, biscuits or brownies, avocado is added as a creamy ingredient which can substitute for margarine. Also, it can be used in the elaboration of mousse chocolate or cocoa cream spread.
In summer, it is perfect for making homemade ice cream. In addition, it freezes very well and allows a very creamy result.
Add avocado between the fruit and the vegetables daily …
It is a good idea to maintain a healthy diet and promote health and well-being. Although unlike these two large groups, avocado can be considered rather a source of healthy fats.
Even so, it is worth remembering that a food cannot exert positive effects on its own. Therefore, it is necessary that it be incorporated into a healthy eating pattern and that other beneficial lifestyle habits are adopted.
In addition, incorporating it without abusing it is also necessary to avoid the great social and environmental impact that its powerful expansion has. It is also advisable to choose products from small and nearby plantations, as well as to combine it with other equally nutritious foods.
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About The Author
Catherine A. Johnson