Is Guacamole Healthy?
You know it tastes good (and costs extra), but can this creamy dip be good for you too? Here, we take a closer look.
Guacamole. You dip your tortilla chips in it, add it to your tacos, and top your quesadillas with it. But is this crowd favorite actually good for you? In short, yes, guacamole is packed with a lot of beneficial nutrients. Read on for the health benefits, a few things to watch out for, and the best ways to eat it.
Related: Healthy Guacamole Recipes
What is guacamole?
Depending on whom you talk to and where you get your guacamole—you'll find lots of different opinions on what's included in guacamole. The simplest recipe is just mashed avocado, a little lime juice and salt. Other common ingredients include cilantro, onion, tomato, and jalapeño. You can get creative with roasted garlic or even add in salsa for an incredibly quick and easy version. No matter how you prepare it, you'll reap the health benefits that come along with eating avocado, arguably the most important ingredient in guacamole.
The nutrition content of guacamole will vary slightly depending on the recipe, but here's the breakdown for ¼ cup of one of our favorite guacamole recipes.
Total fat: 11.1g
Saturated fat: 1.6g
Guacamole is also full of phytonutrients (health promoting nutrients found in plants) from the avocado including antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, and is a good source of folate (63 mcg) and potassium (386 mg).
What are the health benefits of guacamole?
It's good for your heart
"The fiber and healthy fats found in avocados can improve cholesterol, making guacamole a heart healthy snack or condiment," says Kim Murachver, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E., certified diabetes educator and owner of Greene Nutrition. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, specifically oleic acid, which has been linked to lower levels of inflammation (a risk factor for cardiovascular disease), lower LDL cholesterol (aka the "bad" cholesterol), and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. One study even showed that eating one avocado a day significantly reduced LDL cholesterol in just 5 weeks. A review of 18 studies showed that eating avocados significantly increases HDL (the "good" cholesterol), reducing overall risk of cardiovascular disease. (Learn more about the best and worst foods for your heart.)
It may help regulate blood sugar
Research suggests that replacing carbohydrate-rich foods with avocado improves blood sugar control. "Guacamole can provide benefits for individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetes," says Murachver. Both fiber and fat help slow down digestion, keeping blood sugar in check. "Also, when healthy fats like those in guacamole are paired with carbohydrates, the fat can blunt the rise in blood sugar you'd normally see after eating carbohydrates alone," states Murachver. So, guacamole can be a great addition to a sandwich, toast, or any other meal that's heavier in carbohydrates.
It can support a healthy pregnancy
Avocados are a good source of two key nutrients for pregnant women—potassium and folate. They also contain fiber, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants, all of which have been linked to improved maternal health, better birth outcomes, and breast milk quality. (Learn more about healthy foods to eat during pregnancy.)
What should you watch out for when eating guacamole?
First, consider the sodium. Store brands tend to be higher in sodium than homemade versions. But you still want to be careful not to have too heavy of a hand when adding salt at home. Some store brands also contain added sugar, an ingredient most Americans should limit.
Concerned about the calories in guacamole? Lainey Younkin, M.S., R.D., weight-loss dietitian at Lainey Younkin Nutrition, tells her clients not to fear the fat and calories in avocado or guacamole. "Guacamole can absolutely be part of a weight-loss diet," says Younkin. "People tend to fear high fat foods, but fat actually keeps you full because it slows digestion," she adds. While it is a calorically dense food, research shows that the fat and fiber content can increase meal satisfaction and may help you eat less overall. Enjoy it mindfully, which can help you avoid overeating it.
The best ways to enjoy your guacamole
This versatile, crowd-pleasing spread can be savored in so many ways. While we're not ones to turn down the obvious chips and guacamole, try going beyond-the-basic with these healthy and creative ways to enjoy the dip.
Top your toast
You're already topping your toast with avocado; why not bump up the flavor even more with guacamole? Choose whole grain bread and add some arugula and an egg (or don't) for a flavor and nutrient packed breakfast that will satisfy you all morning long.
Add it to your grain bowl or salad
Guacamole can be a fun way to add flavor to your favorite grain bowl. It's perfect with Mexican-style bowls like a taco or burrito bowl, but can boost the healthy fats and flavor of almost any bowl. Try our Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowl and sub guacamole for the avocado.
Spread it on a burger
Guacamole will take your turkey, salmon, or bean burger to a whole new level. Try our Bean Burgers with Spicy Guacamole for a nutrient-filled option that packs a ton of flavor with every bite.
Top your favorite sandwich
Skip the mayo and cheese and swap in this guacamole for a satisfying spread. It's an easy way to add healthy fats to a sandwich that may be lacking.
Stuff Your Potato
Instead of sour cream and cheese, reach for the guacamole for a healthy and flavorful way to top your baked potato. Or, make our Sweet Potato Skins with Guacamole.
Guacamole can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet, and is a great way to increase your intake of health-promoting nutrients like monounsaturated fats, fiber, folate, and potassium. Because it is a calorically dense food, enjoy it mindfully and pair it with other healthy foods to get the most out of your meal.