Do Avocados Have Protein?

Avocados and protein: how much protein do they contain, what else is in an avocado, and is it healthy for you? Find out!

It’s true: plant-based foods, including vegetables and fruits, contain protein. A vegetable with any more than 2 grams of protein is actually considered a high-protein vegetable, though they’ll always score lower than beans, just as beans score lower than meats. Of course, regardless of how an avocado is prepared or how green it can be, the avocado is actually a fruit, with a seed at its center. In fact, more specifically it’s classified as a single-seeded berry. So the short answer to the question, “Do avocados have protein?” is… yes! Avocados do contain protein, and to find out how much, which other fruits have protein, and how you can eat more avocados creatively, read on.

Fruits Containing Protein

The best dietary sources of protein will always be meat, followed by some beans, legumes, and dairy. For example, excellent sources of protein are chicken, turkey, fish and other seafoods, lentils, cottage cheese, and eggs. Other good sources of protein are nuts, nut butters, seeds, milk, green peas, and edamame, but it’s a sharp fall after that.

To be considered a good source of protein, a food should contain over 6 grams of protein, so none of the following fruits contains a significant amount of protein, but that doesn’t mean they don’t contain some protein for your body to use. Here are fruits high in protein, with how much content they have listed in grams per cup, from high to low.

  • Guavas: 4.2 grams of protein per cup (165 g)
  • Avocados: 4 grams of protein per avocado (201 g)
  • Apricots: 2.2 grams of protein per cup (155 g)
  • Kiwifruit: 2.1 grams of protein per cup (180 g)
  • Blackberries: 2 grams of protein per cup (144 g)
  • Oranges: 1.7 grams of protein per cup (180 g)
  • Bananas: 1.3 grams of protein per cup sliced (118 g)
  • Cantaloupe: 1.5 grams of protein per cup (177 g)
  • Raspberries: 1.5 grams of protein per cup (123 g)
  • Peaches: 1.4 grams of protein per cup (154 g)

So, while protein is easily found in animal-based foods, plant-based foods including fruits can provide it as well. Making sure there is a variety of food in your diet and establishing a balanced and healthy eating routine ensures that you’re more likely to get your daily recommended vitamins and minerals. As far as fruits, avocado is only barely beaten by guava in protein content, so it’s not to be counted out.

Do avocados have protein? Find out here

Do Avocados Have Protein That’s Good for You?

Avocados were originally called ahuakatl in the Aztec’s Nahuatl language, a word that meant testicle, referring to the food’s shape. American farmers in California later chose “avocado” to better market the fruit, but only after the original marketing idea of calling it an “alligator pear” didn’t catch on.

Avocados are best known for their healthy fat reputation, but are they healthy in other aspects? Well, it might be interesting to find out that avocados contain a fungicidal toxin that is not injurious or harmful to humans but is potentially poisonous to most animals. Basically, don’t feed any avocado or guacamole to horses, cows, goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, birds, or fish.

So we humans can eat avocados, but should we, especially for its protein content?

Well, we’ve established that fruits and veggies don’t have a huge amount of protein, and so don’t work so well as a protein replacement.

However, protein does provide amino acids important for building both muscle and body tissue. Along with helping to maintain tissue health, the protein gained from avocados also serves to boost your immune system. Not only that, eating avocados helps you feel more full when you pair your avocado protein intake with other high-protein foods. You’ll appreciate increased satiety and satisfaction that curbs your appetite, which can help with weight loss if that’s your aim. With the protein in avocados, you have plenty of health benefits to gain and nothing to lose.

What Else Is in Avocados?

Besides healthy fats and protein, avocados also contain iron, zinc, potassium, and vitamin E.

Of the two types of avocados that are abundant in the United States (those being Florida and California-grown avocados), the California avocados have darker skin and are richer in taste than the bright green-skinned Florida variety, which have a milder taste. While both have the same amount of valuable fats, the Florida variety is lower in both protein and carbohydrates (which may be a plus or a minus depending on your dietary needs).

The Carbs in Avocados

The energy in avocados primarily comes from their fat content, but avocados do have a fair helping of carbs, specifically about 3 grams of carbohydrates in a 1-ounce serving of California avocados, while it’s closer to 2 grams of carbs in Florida ones. The small amount of sugar in avocados, which is a simple carb, is also slightly higher in California avocados, but nevertheless for both varieties the amount is still less than 1 gram per serving.

The Fiber from Avocados

The above carb content is largely derived from the dietary fiber that avocados have, which is another beneficial contribution from this food. Fiber keeps your digestive system working comfortably, and has been shown to help fight cardiovascular disease. One serving of either kind of avocado produced in the United States offers 2 grams of fiber, which in the body also helps to control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels.

What Science Says About Avocados

The health benefits of avocados have been an area of interest for nutrition researchers. A survey published in Nutrition Journal stated that consuming avocados is associated with a better quality diet and nutrient intake, as well as lower metabolic syndrome in adults in the United States. They also advised that dietitians consider recommending avocado consumption to their patients and clients.

A study on Hass avocados (which originate from California) found that avocado oil helps promote healthy blood lipid profiles and enhances the bioavailability of the fat soluble vitamins obtained from other fruits and vegetables. Researchers highlighted that clinical studies show avocado consumption is associated with cardiovascular health, healthy aging, and proper weight management.

Avocado health benefits work on the inside and the outside. The avocado can be used as a natural cosmetic due to its rapid skin penetration and superior quality as a natural sunscreen. It turns out, the avocado is one of the healthiest things you can put in and on your body.

Ways to Include Avocado in Your Diet

Avocados feature very prominently in vegan and vegetarian diets, where any amount of extra protein is always welcome to help make up for the loss of protein gained from animal meats. If you’re only using avocados in guacamole, you are missing out on a world of new opportunities, especially if you or someone you know needs to make a new and healthier change in their diet from processed food to natural whole foods.

Its creamy texture makes it perfect for a healthy smoothie full of spinach and protein powder. You can also use avocados to make vegan ice cream, cookies, truffles, creme brûlée, or chocolate and peanut butter pudding. If you’re creating a diet that helps someone with diabetes stay off sugary snacks, avocado-based desserts could be a great way to give them a sweet treat without doing them any harm.

You could mash up a fresh avocado and use it as a spread to replace butter (it’s buttery in taste anyway!). Want to make green eggs and ham? Take that healthy avocado mash and combine it with your eggs before scrambling them, and not only do you get a fun color, but you also get a much denser, more balanced breakfast with heightened flavor and texture.

Pro Protein, Pro Avocado

Now that you know avocados are protein packed, consider all the creative ways you can make the avocado a more regular part of your diet if you want to gain all those healthy benefits. Surprise yourself and your loved ones!

Let’s Get to Know the Essential Amino Acids in Vegetables

Vegetables normally call to mind vitamins and antioxidants, but let’s not forget the protein component of our favorite and flavorful greens and roots. The essential amino acids in vegetables are crucial to our survival because proteins are needed for most biological processes in our body.

Amino acids are well known as the building blocks of protein—substances necessary for most biological processes in the body. It’s for this reason that proteins, and the amino acids that form them, are considered crucial to our survival. Some amino acids can be produced by the human body and are therefore called nonessential amino acids, but the remaining essential amino acids must be obtained through diet. While animal protein has generally been considered the easiest (and best) way to get all the essential amino acids, if you’re vegetarian or vegan, it’s helpful to know that you can still get everything you need from plant sources—the trick lies in simply eating the right types of plant foods. So come with us as we break down the essential amino acids in vegetables and uncover what you need to know to make sure you’re getting the amino acids your body craves.

Protein Sources: Animal vs. Plant

When we think of dietary protein, most of us probably think of meat, fish, and dairy products. Our minds don’t naturally land on hemp seeds, kale, or whole grains. But while animal sources do contain higher levels of quality protein than plant sources, people who rely on animal-based sources of protein are also at greater risk of developing many of the diseases most commonly associated with the traditional Western diet, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease

Moreover, a recent study indicates that the majority of Americans may actually be eating too much protein—and they’re getting the bulk of it from red and processed meats, both of which are associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature death.

What’s more, plant sources of protein, in addition to decreasing the risk of excessive protein consumption and chronic diseases, also offer additional health benefits that animal sources do not. Some of these benefits include:

  • Improved gut health
  • Immune system support
  • Increased longevity

Complete vs. Incomplete Proteins

Animal-based proteins are considered complete proteins because they contain relatively high levels of all nine essential amino acids:

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

Yet many plant proteins are considered incomplete, as they lack or have low levels of one or more of these amino acids. Moreover, it used to be believed that to make incomplete proteins complete, they had to be consumed together to compensate for each other’s lack of amino acids. Many of us probably even remember our parents instructing us in these complementary proteins, such as beans and rice.

But according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this entire thought process is actually flawed, as it’s been shown that an optimal amino acid profile is perfectly obtainable by eating a variety of protein sources over the course of a day.

Essential Amino Acids in Vegetables

If we take a look at some of the best sources of plant-based protein, nine of the top contenders are:

  • Tofu
  • Quinoa
  • Chia seeds
  • Legumes
  • Hemp seeds
  • Spirulina
  • Broccoli
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Although every plant on this list isn’t universally considered a vegetable, deciding whether something is a fruit, vegetable, or something entirely different isn’t always straightforward. So, with this in mind, we’re going to omit the true nuts and seeds from our discussion and keep the legumes—but don’t forget the importance of all these sources when it comes to your actual diet!

Starchy Vegetables

The starchy vegetables, which include potatoes, taro root, and corn, may not contain complete proteins, but they do deliver more protein than you might think. For example, a large baked russet potato with the skin on contains 7.9 grams of protein, while a cup of cooked taro root has 5.7 grams and a cup of corn dishes up 5.4 grams.

The starchy vegetables also furnish all nine essential amino acids, but many contain lower levels of lysine and the sulfur-containing amino acid methionine.

As the term “sulfur-containing” suggests, the amino acid methionine helps increase the uptake of sulfur, but it also aids in the absorption and bioavailability of selenium and zinc and the removal of heavy metals.

Lysine is the second most abundant essential amino acid in muscle protein and is a necessary component of immune, bone, and cardiovascular health. Lysine is also a precursor of the amino acid carnitine, which is responsible for delivering fatty acids to the mitochondria—the so-called powerhouses of the cell—for use as energy.

Legumes

The protein-rich legumes, whose members include beans, peas, and lentils, help pick up where the starchy vegetables leave off. For instance, several varieties of beans, including kidney beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans, can conceivably furnish a full day’s supply of lysine. However, like the starchy vegetables, the legumes also tend to contain lower levels of methionine.

Green Leafy Vegetables

While the leafy greens also contain relatively high levels of protein, they tend to contain higher levels of the amino acids leucine, phenylalanine, threonine, and tryptophan.

Phenylalanine is a precursor of tyrosine, which is itself a precursor of neurotransmitters and thyroid hormones. Leucine is important in muscle building, while threonine is essential for nervous system health and tryptophan is needed for the production of niacin, melatonin, and serotonin.

Cruciferous Vegetables

The cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower and broccoli, also have high levels of protein and tend to contain higher quantities of isoleucine and valine, which are important for hemoglobin synthesis and regulation of blood sugar and energy levels (isoleucine) and muscle growth and tissue repair (valine).

Marrow Vegetables

The marrow vegetables include pumpkin and zucchini and are rich in leucine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, threonine, and tryptophan.

Stem Vegetables

The stem vegetables include celery and asparagus and are relatively high in tryptophan.

Allium Vegetables

The allium vegetables include onions, garlic, and leeks. Because this group of vegetables is high in sulfur, it actually contains relatively high levels of methionine, in addition to tryptophan.

The essential amino acids in vegetables are crucial to our survival because proteins are needed for most biological processes in our body.

Plant-Based Complete Proteins

Among plant-based protein food sources, both quinoa and soy contain high levels of all nine essential amino acids—hence, their designation as complete proteins. But as we’ve discussed, the term “complete” is now considered misleading, so while including quinoa and soy in your diet is certainly not a bad idea, it’s still possible to achieve a complete amino acid profile through other sources.

As you can see, Americans who choose to eat a plant-based diet don’t need to fear that they’ll end up deficient in protein and amino acids as long as they are including a diverse array of high-protein plant sources in their diets. Even so, several factors can affect the nutritional profile of any food, including soil quality and the method of storage and food preparation.

Which is why, in addition to eating a healthy diet and aiming for both variety and adequate calories, you may want to consider supplementing with essential amino acids to make sure you are obtaining all the different amino acids your body needs.

Essential amino acid supplements enhance your muscle strength and mass and provide benefits that even the highest quality dietary proteins cannot. But single therapy supplementation, such as with lysine, won’t meet your protein needs. All amino acids need to be present in their optimal amount for supplements to be truly beneficial.