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Essential Fatty Acids in Avocados

By Juniper Russo

The avocado, a fatty tropical fruit known for its buttery texture and mild flavor, is a popular component of healthy cuisine throughout the world. In addition to supplying folate, potassium, vitamin C and several other important nutrients, an avocado is an excellent source of essential fatty acids. Those consuming a restricted or vegan diet can benefit from the use of avocado to supply these critical compounds. However, its nutritional profile is not ideal for people eating a conventional American diet.

Alpha-Linolenic Acid

According to NutritionData.com, a 1-cup serving of avocado contains 253 milligrams of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. This essential fatty acid offers several important benefits for the heart, joints and central nervous system. However, avocados contain a fairly small amount compared to a person's total need for the compound.

Linoleic Acid

One serving of avocado contains a generous 3886 milligrams of linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. This essential fatty acid, found in most high-fat foods, enables many essential functions within the human body. However, nutritionists warn that most Americans get too much of this important compound, not too little. Nevertheless, the fats found in avocado are predominantly monounsaturated and present a healthier alternative to cheeses and butters.

Oleic Acid

Avocados contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid also found in olive oil. In April 2009, the BBC reported that this healthy fat compound can enhance memory and brain activity; early evidence also suggests that it may improve cholesterol levels.

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