Feature Archive

The Avocado Advantage

Once banished for being high in fat, this fruit is making a healthy comeback.

WebMD Feature

Aug. 14, 2000 -- For as long as he can remember, George Bliss, age 81, has been eating avocados morning, noon, and night. A second-generation California avocado farmer, Bliss loves the fruits of his labor. "I eat three avocados a day," he says with the fervor of a true addict. "I have one on my eggs in the morning, one in my salad at noon, and one with my dinner."

Partaking of his land's bounty doesn't seem to have done Bliss any harm. After eight decades of daily avocado consumption, he's still going strong; at 6 feet tall, he weighs a trim 180 pounds. He believes that he has avocados to thank for his good health. "I'm still living and I'm over 80," he says. "I do some exercise on a bicycle, and I walk through the orchards keeping up with my business. I don't need a cane or anything." And sure, Bliss says, his green globes might be a bit fatty, but that's no reason to fear them.

It's true that avocados are high in fat -- one reason they've earned the nickname "butter pear." A medium-sized avocado contains 30 grams of fat, as much as a quarter-pound burger. That's why diet experts have long urged Americans to go easy on avocados in favor of less fatty fruits and vegetables. But now nutritionists are taking another look. They're finding that most of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated -- the "good" kind that actually lowers cholesterol levels. Thanks to this new understanding, the U.S. government recently revised its official nutrition guidelines to urge Americans to eat more avocados.