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What’s the Difference Between California and Florida Avocados?

One is higher in fat; the other is (a lot) higher in calories.  Find out which is which.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
April 26, 2011
Episode #136

Page 1 of 2

Botanically speaking, avocadoes are a fruit but they are quite unlike most of the fruits we eat. They are very low in sugar and very high in fat.  In fact, in the world of nutrition, we don’t count an avocado as a serving of fruit but as a couple of servings of fat.  That doesn’t mean avocados are bad for you; quite the contrary.

Is the Fat in Avocado Bad for You?

Most of the fat in avocado is monounsaturated, the same type of heart-healthy fat found in olive oil.  People whose diets are high in monounsaturated fats have lower risk of heart disease and also tend to be slimmer.  Nonetheless, if you’re watching your calories, you want to be aware that avocados pack a lot of calories into a relatively small space.

What’s the Difference Between California and Florida Avocados?

Just how quickly those calories add up depends on what type of avocado you have. Here in the U.S., the two main varieties of avocado are usually referred to as California and Florida avocados. The California avocados (also known as Hass avocados) are the ones with the dark, pebbly skins. The ones with the smooth green rinds are Florida avocados.

How Many Calories Are in an Avocado?

One obvious difference is that Florida avocados are larger than the California variety and so they are quite a bit higher in calories.  An average-sized Florida avocado has about 300 calories versus 200 calories for a typical California avocado.

A not-so-obvious difference is that California avocados have a higher fat percentage, which makes them higher in calories if you’re measuring by weight. An ounce of Florida avocado—which is a piece about the size of a golf ball—has about 33 calories, whereas the richer California variety packs about 50-calories per ounce (or golf ball).

This can all get very confusing when you’re trying to look up nutrition information for avocado. In order to get accurate information about fat and calories, you need to be sure that the source is referencing the same type of avocado as you’re eating.

What’s a “Lite” Avocado?

Just to make things a little bit more confusing, you may have seen something labeled a “lite” avocado at the store. This isn’t really anything new. It’s just a new marketing spin that some clever Florida avocado growers came up with.  Seeing as Florida varieties are lower in fat, they thought they’d play up that advantage by rebranding Florida avocados as “lite” avocados.  But buyer beware: Ounce for ounce, Florida avocados are lower in calories, but you have to remember that they’re also twice as big. If you’re going to eat the whole thing, you’d actually be far better off eating a California avocado.

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