When Should I Worry About...

Is Avocado Toast Actually Healthy?

Feb. 18, 2020 - Katie McCallum

Some weekends, all you need is a good brunch. That special mid-morning meal where mimosas replace orange juice, mayo gets "subbed" for aioli, and the regular-old breakfast staples just won't do — even if you're trying to be healthy. I'm looking at you, omelette.

Enter avocado toast.

"Avocado toast is one of the healthier brunch options at many restaurants, but you do have to be careful," says Kylie Arrindell, wellness dietitian at Houston Methodist. "From how much avocado is used to what's piled on top, avocado toast can go from a healthy to a not-so-healthy choice pretty quickly."

You'll have to decide for yourself whether or not its $15 price tag is worth it, but Arrindell is here to help you understand what makes avocado toast a healthy brunch option, as well as what gives it the potential to become unhealthy.

Is avocado toast healthy?

Brunch-goers, rejoice! Arrindell says that — most of the time — avocado toast is indeed a healthy choice.

"Avocado contains a lot of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, as well as a good amount of fiber," Arrindell explains. "Plus, if you're eating at a restaurant, you have a lot of control of what goes on top of your avocado toast. You can say 'no cheese' or 'no bacon,' which you can't always do as easily in other unhealthier breakfast dishes."

One thing to note, however, is that avocado isn't a great source of protein. To turn avocado toast into a well-balanced meal, you'll want to top it with something that has a lot of protein, like eggs, black beans or tuna. Or, you can try packing in the protein by blending Greek yogurt into your avocado mixture.

When it comes to the toast itself, the bread you use matters, too. To actually keep your avocado toast healthy, Arrindell recommends opting for a slice of whole grain bread — not white bread.

"Whole grain bread has more fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals than white bread," explains Arrindell. "The flour used in white bread has been refined and stripped of a lot of these healthy nutrients, so you tend to be left with high sugar and simple carbohydrates."

If you've made all these healthy choices but feel underwhelmed by your avocado toast, Arrindell suggests getting creative with your toppings.

"To add more flavor and texture, without making it unhealthy, there are several ingredients you can try, such as red onion, shredded carrots or herbs like basil, rosemary and parsley," says Arrindell. "One of my favorite toppings to add is everything-but-the-bagel seasoning."

But, isn't avocado toast fattening?

When avocado toast is made with a person's health in mind, it's not fattening, per se. In fact, it's a great source of healthy fats — which you need since they play an important role in your overall health.

But, don't assume every avocado toast you come across is healthy. Here are two big fat mistakes that can cause your avocado toast to take an unhealthy turn.

Big fat mistake #1: You let the avocado become too much of a good thing

Since the majority of the calories in avocado come from fat, using too much avocado can contribute to going way over your daily fat intake if you're not careful. While the fats in avocado are healthy (yay!), they still need to be consumed in moderation (boo).

"A serving of avocado is one-third of a medium avocado," says Arrindell. "So to get those healthy fats without overdoing it, I recommend limiting the amount of avocado you put on your toast to two servings or less."

At home, controlling the amount of avocado on your avocado toast is easy.

At a restaurant, it's a totally different story. In fact, you should probably go ahead and assume that most restaurants use an entire avocado (at least) in an order of avocado toast — which comes out to about three serving sizes of avocado. This is important to keep in mind since it means you'll need to be extra careful about avoiding fat elsewhere on your toast.

Big fat mistake #2: You forget that bacon, cheese and butter are still unhealthy — even on avocado toast

Bacon, cheese, butter. Three ingredients we all know to be delicious, but also three ingredients we all know to be pretty high in fat.

"Since the avocado itself has quite a bit of fat per serving, adding bacon or cheese on top of it can turn avocado toast into a very high-fat meal," warns Arrindell.

If you're at a restaurant, there's the almost certain reality that the bread is probably slathered in butter before being toasted, too.

"You don't always know whether or not a restaurant uses butter when making your toast, but you can ask to leave it off or account for it and use it as yet another reason to avoid adding additional high-fat toppings to your avocado toast," says Arrindell.

Plus, bacon, cheese and butter are high in saturated fats, which are much less healthy than the unsaturated fats found in avocado. That's right, not all fats are created equal.

"At the end of the day, bacon-topped avocado toast is still probably a healthier choice than some other brunch options, like biscuits and gravy with bacon. But just know that it's become a less healthy version of avocado toast at that point."

Categories: When Should I Worry About...
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