Nutrition for Athletes: Avocados – More Than Just Guacamole

Guacamole is the most popular use of avocados. However, avocados are more than guacamole!

Athletes pay close attention – this rich green fruit can enhance your athletic prowess.

In the 1980s, fat was demonized and this fat-free fad became the demise of the avocado. The majority of the calories in this fruit are derived from fat. The good news is the fat source is mainly mono-unsaturated fat. Mono-what? Mono-unsaturated fat is known as the heart healthy fat. These fats help absorb vitamins from foods including vitamins A, D, E, and K which enables the body to utilize them.

The avocado

The avocado has many benefits for an athlete’s diet.

For your good health

The advantages of avocados do not end there. Besides serving as a nutrient vehicle, this fruit is also a nutrition powerhouse. Many people think that the best source of potassium is a banana. That is incorrect; avocados actually have more potassium. One serving, approximately one-half medium avocado, meets 14 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for potassium. One serving of a banana meets only 10 percent RDA. Potassium is important for athletes because it helps maintain electrolyte balance, prevents cramping and reduces blood pressure.

Avocados are also an anti-inflammatory food due to their high concentration of folate, vitamin K, and antioxidants such as lutein, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zeaxanthin and Vitamin B6. Exercise can produce small tears in the muscles. Anti-inflammatory foods are crucial for athletic recovery from these injuries. By eating anti-inflammatory foods, such as avocados, the body can recover better and faster by addressing inflammation and healing tissue damage caused by exercise or outside triggers.

Avocados are also high in fiber. One serving contains 7 grams of fiber which is a little over 25 percent of an adult’s daily needs. Adding avocado to the diet helps meet the goal of 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day which supports digestive health. A healthy gut supports nutrient absorption producing a stronger body.

Athletes, the take home message is clear: avocados are an all-purpose fruit.

Toss some slices onto your salad to get the most vitamins and minerals or add a few slices to your sandwich to give it an extra boost of nutrition. Next time avocados are in season, enjoy them for their taste and their health benefits: nutrient absorption, electrolyte balance and post-workout recovery.

– Emily Luxford, MS, RD Sansum Clinic
– Kailey Proctor, Cal State San Luis Obispo Dietetic Intern

Guacamole Potato Salad by (Serves 8)

• 2 lbs. small red potatoes, cleaned
• 2 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, peeled, seeded and mashed
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 green onions, whites only, finely chopped
• 1 large serrano pepper, seeded and minced
• ½ tsp. salt, or to taste

1. Place potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with water and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Test for doneness by piercing one potato with a fork. The fork should slide in with gentle resistance. Continue cooking if not done, otherwise carefully drain the potatoes and refrigerate them until cold.
2. Cut potatoes in bite-sized pieces (quarter or dice depending on size of potato). Place in a large bowl.
3. Stir in remaining ingredients, adjust salt to taste and serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving
Calories 140; Total Fat 6 g (Sat 1 g, Trans 0 g, Poly 0.7 g, Mono 3.5 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 45 mg; Potassium 710 mg; Total Carbohydrates 21 g; Dietary Fiber 4 g; Total Sugars 1 g; Protein 3 g; Vitamin A 70 (IU); Vitamin C 26 mg; Calcium 18 mg; Iron 1 mg; Vitamin D 0 (IU); Folate 54 mcg; Omega 3 Fatty Acid 0.06 g