How Healthy Is Guacamole?
Are you a guacamole fan?
Here’s one of my favourite guacamole recipes – check out the ingredients:
- 1 ripe medium avocado
- 1 small red onion (grated or very finely chopped)
- 2 tomatoes (de-seeded then finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Chilli sauce for flavour
At the end of the day, most things are a numbers game. So let’s review the stats on what’s in this guacamole:
Rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, guacamole’s main ingredient is the healthier fat option to dip into. Just half an avocado or around 120g can provide a nutritious boost to your snacks, giving you:
- 36% of an adult’s folate needs
- 32% of Vitamin C
- 24% of vitamin E
- 15% potassium
- 10% copper
- And a dose of antioxidants
Spanish (red purple) onion
The purple red pigments in fruits and vegetables signals the presence of important antioxidants. In the case of red onion these antioxidants include flavonoids – quercetin and anthocyanins (bonus points if you can pronounce those). The outer layers have the highest amounts so avoid over peeling Spanish onions as you can lose 20% of its quercetin and almost 75% of its anthocyanins from removing too many layers. 285
Your average tomato can provide around two thirds of an adult’s vitamin C requirements. Excellent news. Plus the lovely vibrant red colour of tomato points to the carotenoid pigment lycopene that is found in this fruit. Lycopene is thought to play a role in heart health and prostate cancer prevention; however, the scientific evidence to prove this is somewhat lacking. 286, 287 This is no reason to stop eating tomato, it just means we need more research to be sure.
While avocado and tomato both can provide vitamin C, lemon juice is just another big dose of it. Acids help prevent avocado from oxidising and turning brown when exposed to the air. Plus lemon juice provides a fresh zestiness to the flavour of the guacamole.
Chillies also contain small amounts of vitamin C and lycopene. One of the interesting chemicals found naturally in chilli is capsaicin – the chemical responsible for the burning and heat of chilli. Capsaicin also appears to cause the body to increase metabolism so may play a role in fat burning; 288 however, it is unknown at present how much chilli is required to have this affect.
So, overall just a serve of this guacamole (about 165g) can provide:
- 2g protein
- 13g total fat – vast majority healthy fats which you need
- 3g fibre
- 65% of RDI for vitamin C
- 20% of RDI for vitamin E
- 14% of RDI for folate
- A range of colourful pigments and antioxidants
Author: Lisa Yates, Consultant Dietitian Adv APD
Lisa Yates is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian with 18 years experience in nutrition, communications, clinical practice, as well as marketing strategy development and implementation.