7 Health Benefits of Avocado Smoothies

7 Health Benefits of Avocado Smoothies

Written by Aly Bouzek, MS, RDN
Edited and updated by Sandra Gentleman, RD

Avocados have been increasing in popularity over the years due to their high healthy fat content. In 1985, 436 million pounds of avocado were consumed in the US. In 2020, more than 2.7 billion pounds of avocado were consumed.

To put that increase into perspective, individuals consumed about 2 pounds each of avocado in 2000 and almost 8.5 pounds per person in 2021 in the US.

Wow! How about we learn more about the awesome avocado?

Avocado 101

Avocados have a smooth, buttery, creamy texture, and a slightly nutty flavor. The edible part of an avocado is the light green to yellow flesh inside the skin.

Avocados boast alternative names including alligator pear (for its bumpy skin and pear shape) and avocado pear.

Which leads into a common question: Are avocados a fruit or a vegetable? Drum roll please… Avocados are actually classified as a nutrient-dense fruit! Technically speaking, this is because they are a berry with one large pit/seed.

Tree Nuts

Avocados, grown from the Persea americana tree, are native to Central America and Mexico. They were first domesticated in the US (Florida) in 1833 and then expanded to California in 1856. California is now the leading avocado producer in the US.

Worldwide? Mexico takes the gold medal of top avocado producer. In 2021, Mexico harvested around 2.4 million tons of avocados.

Nutrient Profile of Avocados

An average-sized avocado provides 240 calories, 3 grams of protein, 22 grams of fat, almost 13 grams of carbohydrate, and 10 grams of fiber. Avocados are also cholesterol-free and are low in sodium at less than 11 mg per avocado.

blood sugar management

Avocado Ripening Tips

Most of us can probably relate to the woes of ripening avocados. You bring them home from the store and they are hard and unripe for what feels like forever. Then, when you turn your back for ⅛ of a second, they are overripe and ready for the compost bin.

Avocados are hard in the stores because they are picked when they are immature. They only ripen after harvest and sometimes this takes a little patience.

weight management

A tip to help ripen your avocados is to try placing them with a few apples in a bowl on the counter. Apples emit ethylene gas which ripens other produce quickly. Placing your unripe avocados with apples will ripen them faster than if the avocados were sitting by themselves.

For storage, once the avocados are ripe, keep them in an airtight container. The oxygen deprivation will help prevent them from ripening further. Additionally, if you need to store your avocado for one day or less, try keeping them in your refrigerator with both skins together.

Another tip is to not buy too many avocados at once. Sometimes they all become ripe at the same time and then you have more than you need at that moment.

Where to use Avocado

Avocados are such a versatile nutrient-dense food. They can be added to almost anything, savory or sweet, or they can be enjoyed raw.

Where you can add avocado:

  • Guacamole (of course!)
  • Toast
  • Dips
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches (and anywhere that you can use it to replace butter or mayo)
  • Chocolate pudding
  • Ice cream
  • Milkshakes
  • Eggs
  • Sushi
  • Tacos
  • Burritos
  • Coffee
  • Smoothies
  • And so much more!

A quick avocado fun fact about incorporating the fruit in your diet: Did you know that you can actually grind up the seed/pit and eat it? How amazing!

What About Avocado Oil?

Avocado oil is unrefined oil that is pressed from avocados. Unrefined means that it retains some of its green coloring and slightly nutty flavor. It is high in unsaturated fats making it a heart healthy oil.

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Avocado oil has much of the same health benefits as avocados, but can also lend a hand when cooking and is used in skin care products to help with moisturization.

Benefits of Avocado Smoothies

Have you ever added avocado to your smoothies? If you haven’t, buckle up. Smoothies with avocado are creamier and have a boost of nutrients. Oh, and did we mention that avocado smoothies are delicious too?!

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Benefits of Avocado Smoothies #1: Heart Health

As we learned above, avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats help to reduce blood pressure, reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, decrease your risk of blood clots, improve cholesterol levels, and improve your overall heart health. (1)

Avocados are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALAs help to prevent heart disease.

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Additionally, potassium that avocados provide helps with cellular function, blood pressure regulation, and may prevent artery hardening.

As we can see, avocado smoothies can help improve your heart health! Try adding a handful of frozen avocado to your next smoothie to create a creamy, heart healthy masterpiece.

Benefits of Avocado Smoothies #2: Eye Health

Avocados are great for heart health, but they are also a great food for eye health. Our retinas, the inner tissue layer of our eyes, have increased concentrations of fatty acids.

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We need to continue eating foods that are rich in fatty acids to keep our eyes healthy and functioning efficiently. Cue the avocado.

Additionally, lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids found in avocados, are helpful in preventing and reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. (2)

By adding avocado to your smoothies, you can help protect your eye health. Try adding a small handful of kale to your smoothie to boost those eye health nutrients!

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Pro tip: remove the stalk and stems from kale before blending.

Benefits of Avocado Smoothies #3: Brain Health

The healthy plant fats found in avocados have been shown to assist in improving cognitive function and brain health.

The monounsaturated fat and B vitamins in avocados help with memory and may help reduce homocysteine levels. (3) Note that increased homocysteine levels are risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Along with reducing the risk of dementia, AD, and cognitive decline, adding avocados to the MIND diet can be helpful in protecting your brain health.

The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. These diets focus on foods that increase heart health and protect brain health.

To boost your brain health even more, try adding some almonds to your next avocado smoothie. The nutty-tasting smoothie will be both satiating and delicious!

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Benefits of Avocado Smoothies #4: Pregnancy Health

Avocados are great to consume during pregnancy – for both mom and baby. Avocados are nutrient-dense and help with satiety due to their high calorie content.

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Additionally, avocados offer a rich source of folate. Folic acid helps to form the baby’s neural tube which can help prevent neural tube defects and anencephaly.

Folate and folic acid are often used interchangeably, but folate is the natural form of the vitamin and folic acid is the form of folate that is added to supplements and used to fortify some foods.

Folic acid is better absorbed by the body, but folate and folic acid are equally important for our health.

Add some leafy greens, like spinach, to your avocado smoothie to get more folate in your diet!

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Benefits of Avocado Smoothies #5: Cancer Prevention

As noted above, avocados are a great source of fat-soluble carotenoids. Carotenoids are phytochemicals that are reported to have anti-cancer properties. (4)

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However, data surfacing about avocados and their role in cancer prevention is still very new. Many more studies need to be conducted before cancer prevention from avocados is confirmed or not.

Pro tip: to access most of the carotenoids that avocados offer, scrape away the flesh that’s really close to the avocado skin.

Combining avocado with pumpkin in your smoothie will increase the amount of carotenoids that you’re consuming. For a super easy smoothie, opt for frozen, cubed avocado and canned pumpkin puree.

Benefits of Avocado Smoothies #6: Bone Health

Both vitamin K and zeaxanthin from avocados can help improve your bone health. Vitamin K and zeaxanthin can help to strengthen bones, assist with bone metabolism, help to reduce the risk of fractures, and may reduce the risk of an osteoporosis diagnosis. (1,5,6)

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When preparing your avocado smoothie, toss in a handful or two of spinach. Spinach contains both vitamin K and zeaxanthin and can help support your bone health.

Benefits of Avocado Smoothies #7: Bowel Health

Avocados are looking more and more like a superhero superfood! One of the main avocado nutrients that we haven’t talked about yet is fiber. Avocados are high in soluble fiber and can help promote a healthy digestive system.

With 10 grams of fiber per avocado and a low sugar profile, avocados are a great way to get your fiber without the discomfort of gas and bloating.

Want to add more fiber to your avocado smoothie to help with your bowel health? Try adding ½ cup of raspberries or blackberries.

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Pro tip: when increasing your fiber, start slow and make sure to stay hydrated!

Wrap Up: Benefits of Avocado Smoothies

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Avocado is an amazing, nutrient-dense fruit. Adding it to your smoothies can help with satiety (feeling fuller for longer) and it can help with:

  1. Heart health
  2. Eye health
  3. Brain health
  4. Pregnancy health
  5. Cancer prevention
  6. Bone health
  7. Bowel health

And don’t forget about all the other ways you can incorporate the versatile avocado into your meals and snacks! We’d love to hear how you’ve used avocado in your smoothies! 

If you’re interested in learning more about the awesome avocado, then head over to our podcast, My Wife the Dietitian, and check out episode #55. Don’t miss it!

Listen in to Episode

#55 on My Wife The Dietitian to learn all about Awesome Avocados on Spotify or Anchor.fm.

Podcast – Sandra Gentleman

My Wife the Dietitian
Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

With the vegetarian movement and the push to incorporate more plant proteins, beans seem like a better alternative to tofu for many.

With the familiar kid chant rhyme “Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart……”, there’s a few considerations to think about.

Beans must be good for your heart and cardiovascular system, but what about digesting them without a lot of gas and bloating?

Memories of sitting on an airplane, after eating baked beans on the last supper before flying helps imprint the memory of the embarrassing flatulence that can happen with beans.

Sit back and relax to enjoy this read, there are some clever techniques when preparing legumes that help to minimize the effects of intestinal gas.

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans Which is healthier?

Black bean burrito, Mexican black bean salsa and black bean brownies are all common recipes that incorporate these dark skinned ‘turtle beans’.

Pinto beans have a history originating from Mexico and Central America. Pinto beans (frijoles) are the main ingredient in refried beans. They are the most popular and widely used legume in Northern Mexico and Southwestern United states.

Black beans vs pinto beans……which bean is healthier is a common question people ask.

Both beans have excellent nutritional profiles for regular use in cooking, but one comes out slightly ahead for a particular health advantage. The colour gives a certain clue to that advantage.

All legumes are rich in protein, fibre, naturally low in fat and are an excellent source of folate. Folate is a necessary B vitamin to help prevent neural tube defects in newborns and hence essential in pregnancy. Folate also decreases homocysteine levels in the blood, which helps lower the dementia-causing plaque in the brain and is an important nutrient for overall brain health.

There’s evidence that beans may be a key dietary staple for longevity and aging well into older years. Five Blue Zones around the world, where a majority of the population enjoy good quality of life upwards into their hundreds indicate that eating beans at least three times per week help with this longevity. 

Legumes are the fruit or seed of plants of the legume family (such as peas or beans) used for food.

Not all legumes are beans, but all beans are considered legumes.

There are 19,000 different species of legumes and 751 genera of plants.

Common legumes are beans, lentils, peanuts and peas that grow on vines or underground.

Most types of nuts grow on trees, considered ‘tree nuts’ rather than legumes. Walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios are all nuts that grow in trees. Peanuts grow underground and are classified as a legume. Other beans and peas grow on vines too and not in trees.

Tree Nuts

Good For Your Heart

Black, pinto and other beans are loaded with nutrients. They are a good source of protein that is integral to the immune system, in addition to tissue repair, plus, healthy growth and development.

Legumes, including black beans, pinto beans and other legumes have excellent fibre content which helps lower blood cholesterol (hence, good for the heart), lowers blood pressure, helps with weight management and blood sugar control by improving insulin sensitivity.

cans beans

Blood Sugar Management

A 2020 meta-analysis review article in American Journal of Lifestyle Medication demonstrated that pulses have been shown to influence lipid profiles, glycemic control, and blood pressure, therefore providing a potential dietary tool for disease risk reduction, which may be particulaly beneficial among adults with diabetes. 

A 2014 study in ARYA Artherosclerosis demonstrated that 2027 participants who had frequent consumption of legumes had corresponding lower blood sugar levels. Fiber-rich beans help to slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream to improve blood glucose management for people with diabetes, or those who are trying to prevent the development of prediabetes and diabetes.

blood sugar management

Weight Control

The protein and fibre content of legumes helps with satiety to manage weight. Soluble fibre bulks, gels and expands in the intestines and moves slowly through the GI tract. This helps reduce feelings of hunger and helps to prevent overeating and weight control.

Plus, studies have shown that grehlin, the hunger hormone decreases with the consumption of legumes, which helps with feelings of fullness and satiety.

Results from the National Health and Nutritional Exam Survey conducted 1999-2002 released in 2008 in the American College of Nutrition stated that bean consumption is associated with less abdominal girth aka belly fat, lower body weight and reduced risk of obesity. 

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Cardiovascular Health

Beans, Beans, they’re good for your heart. With several markers of inflammation lowered with regular legume consumption, beans can help with cardiovascular health.

Nearly 10,000 men and women were followed for 19 years, and those who included legumes at least four times per week had a 22% decreased risk of coronary artery disease, plus 11% lower risk of CVD compared to those who only ate legumes less than once per week.

In a study of a subset of participants, who had diabetes in the large-scale EPIC study, intake of vegetables, fruits and legumes together was associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality, as well as risk of death from CVD.
Analyzed separately, the trend towards all cause mortality was true only for vegetables and legumes, but not fruit.
These studies indicate correlation not causation, but offer health incentives to include more beans in the diet.

In a study conducted at University of Saskatchewan published in the British Journal of Nutrition, 108 older adults (age 50+) were given two servings of legumes per day for two months and assessed for cardiovascular disease risk indicators compared to those who were eating their regular diets, with no beans. After two months of consuming beans daily, the subject’s cholesterol dropped. Total cholesterol by 8.3% and LDL (lousy-type) by 7.9%.
Eating beans regularly can help with blood pressure management too.

beans heart health

GI Health

Although some people may have uncomfortable intestinal gas, regular bean consumption has been shown to help reduce diverticulosis, hemmorhoids, intestinal ulcers, gastroesophaeal reflux disease (GERD) and will add bulk to stool to support bowel regularity and prevent constipation.

gi health

Legumes are mother nature’s oxymoron, creating intesintal gas for some, while protecting against diseases of the gut and GI tract for those who regularly eat them.

Lectin is a protein substance in most beans that can cause GI upset for those who eat them undercooked or raw. These toxins can be inactivated by boiling beans for as little as ten minutes. Canned legumes and soaked&boiled beans have their lectin deactivated and are safe to eat.

Reducing Flatulence

To reduce the likelihood of flatulence, rinsing canned beans prior to adding to recipes can help with ridding the fermentable polysaccharide sugars that are difficult to digest.
When cooking with pulses, or dried beans and legumes, throwing the water away that they were soaked in helps to reduce the gassy effects when eating the food made with beans.

bean soup

Spice it up

Adding spices to your bean dish will naturally help reduce the gassiness of beans.
Cilantro, cumin, bay leaves, turmeric, fennel, anise and rosemary are all herbs and spices that can help reduce the gassy effects of bean consumption, plus pair well with a variety of bean dishes.

When all else fails, adding Beano (a digestive enzyme tablet), to the mix can also aid in digestion after eating chili or baked beans.

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Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

Black beans are sometimes referred to as turtle beans and are hard and nutty legumes. Adequate soaking and cooking will ensure they are ready for digestion after eating.

Pinto beans being soft and creamy, can offer a better bean to use for many of the recipes dedicated to black beans, such as hummus, tacos or burritos.

Pinto beans offer both nine grams of protein and fibre per 100 gram serving, whereas black beans offer both eight grams of protein and fiber per 100 gram serving.

Pinto beans have a good source of selenium, due in part to, where they are grown, in selenium-rich soil compared to black beans. Selenium is a micromineral that is important for immune system function and is difficult to attain in regular food consumption.

black and pinto beans

Black beans, owing to their dark black (almost purple hue) , have anthocyanins, a polyphenol healthful phytochemical that acts as an antioxidant, and can protect against cancer.

With their dark colour, black beans have a slight advantage over pinto beans in their nutritional and healthful benefits.

With pinto bean’s versatility in different dishes with their soft and creamy texture, regular consumption of pintos offer beneficial effects for health. 

As variety is the spice of life, black bean dishes can complement regular weekly pinto bean consumption in various recipes to garner the antioxidant effects.

However you use them, all beans and legumes are healthful additions to your kitchen arsenal and can add variety and flavour to your weekly repertoire. Increasing the amount of legumes in your week’s menu will help you (as they say on Star Trek) live long and prosper.

Listen in to Episode

#42 on My Wife The Dietitian to learn all about Beans on Spotify or Anchor.fm.

Podcast – Sandra Gentleman

My Wife The Dietitian Podcast