Is It Possible to Eat Too Much Healthy Fat? A Doctor Weighs In

You know healthy fats like salmon, avocado, and olive oil are good for you, but can you overdo it? The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans don’t give a strict upper limit for how much total fat you should eat (though they do recommend keeping saturated fat consumption to less than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake). And as you know, healthy fats found in foods like avocado, nuts, salmon, and extra-virgin olive oil have many benefits: They provide your body with lasting energy, keep you feeling full longer, and help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. However, all dietary fat—both unhealthy trans and saturated fats and good-for-you monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—is more calorie-dense than protein and carbohydrates, so eating too much could lead to weight gain.

RELATED: 13 Healthy High-Fat Foods You Should Eat More Of

If you’re a generally healthy adult, I suggest getting anywhere from 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories from mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which is a moderate amount. (So if you eat, say, 2,000 calories per day, shoot for 65 grams or so of fat, which is equivalent to roughly one avocado plus 2 1/2 tablespoons of EVOO.) A registered dietitian can look at your diet and tailor that number to fit your needs.

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

Ask the Diet Doctor: Are You Eating Too Many Healthy Fats?

Q: I know foods like almonds, avocado, olive oil, and salmon have monounsaturated fats, but how much “healthy fat” is too much? And how much of these fatty foods should I eat to get the benefits without gaining weight?

A: Great question. Fats are a good thing, but they are no different in that you can get too much of them. Calories matter, and especially with oils, it’s easy to take in a lot of calories without knowing. I’m going to a make a couple assumptions so I can most accurately answer your questions.

Let’s assume that you eat 1700 calories per day, and you follow a diet that is roughly 40-percent carbohydrates, 30-percent protein, and 30-percent fat (a sensible, moderate diet). You eat 3 meals and 1 snack of almonds (1oz) each day.

Using these numbers you’ll be eating 57 grams of fat per day. Your snack of 1oz of almonds contains 14 grams of fat, leaving you with 14 grams of fat for each of your meals. This is the amount of fat found in 1 Tbsp of oil (olive, sesame, coconut, canola, etc) or ½ of an avocado. One ounce of cheese contains 9 grams of fat, while 1 whole egg contains 6 grams. You can see that it is actually pretty easy meet your fat goals for the day.

The amount of fat that would cause you to gain weight is more a question of total calories. You don’t need to be locked into the 30 percent of calories from fat example that I used above, but between 30-35 percent is where most people should land, unless they are more aggressively restricting carbohydrates (<20 percent of total calories). Research with very low-carbohydrate diets shows that you can be much more liberal with your fat intake when your carbohydrates are very low.

One last tip that I always tell clients is to measure oils. It is very easy to pour 2 Tbsp of olive oil into a pan instead of 1. This simple strategy can instantly turn your fat and calorie intake from excess to ideal.

Dr. Mike Roussell, PhD, is a nutritional consultant known for his ability to transform complex nutritional concepts into practical habits and strategies for his clientele, which includes professional athletes, executives, food companies, and top fitness facilities. Dr. Mike is the author of Dr. Mike’s 7 Step Weight Loss Plan and the upcoming 6 Pillars of Nutrition.

Connect with Dr. Mike to get more simple diet and nutrition tips by following @mikeroussell on Twitter or becoming a fan of his Facebook page .

  • By Mike Roussell, PhD

Fat Grams – How Much Fat Should You Eat Per Day?

Fatty acids are grouped according to the number of double bonds between carbons in their structures.

Monounsaturated Fat

Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) have one double bond in their carbon chains.

MUFA food sources are typically liquid at room temperature and fairly stable for cooking purposes.

The most common MUFA is oleic acid, which olive oil contains in high amounts.

Monounsaturated fat is linked to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of serious diseases such as heart disease and diabetes (5, 6, 7).

One review of 24 controlled studies found diets in monounsaturated fat lead to significantly lower blood sugar, triglycerides, weight and blood pressure, compared to high-carb diets. They also increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels (7).

MUFAs may also increase feelings of fullness that lead to reduced calorie intake.

In one study, people felt fuller and took in fewer calories for the next 24 hours after consuming bread rich in oleic acid, compared to bread that contained less (8).

Polyunsaturated Fat

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) contain two or more double bonds.

They can be divided into groups depending on the location of the double bonds. These include omega-3s and omega-6s.

These double bonds make PUFAs more flexible and fluid than saturated fats.

On the other hand, they’re also far more prone to damage and rancidity.

Studies have found that long-chain omega-3 fats have benefits for inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, depression and other health conditions (9, 10, 11, 12).

Although you need some omega-6 fats, they can be inflammatory when consumed in excess, especially if omega-3 PUFA intake is low (13, 14, 15).

Omega-6 fats are very common in modern-day diets. On the other hand, omega-3 fats are usually consumed in much smaller amounts.

Significantly, researchers report that the evolutionary diet of humans provided a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats between 1:1 and 4:1. By contrast, it’s estimated that most people now consume these fats in a 15–17:1 ratio (16).

Saturated Fat

Saturated fatty acids (SFAs) have no double bonds in their carbon chains, so the carbons are said to be “saturated” with hydrogen.

They are very stable at high temperatures and far less likely to be damaged during cooking than polyunsaturated fats.

SFA intake can raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels in some people, although this depends in part on the specific fatty acids consumed. It should also be noted that HDL cholesterol typically goes up as well (17).

Overall, research indicates that SFA consumption has a neutral effect on health and doesn’t appear to cause or contribute to heart disease (18, 19, 20).

In fact, some foods high in saturated fat may benefit metabolic health.

For example, studies suggest that the medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil and palm oil may boost metabolic rate and reduce calorie intake (21, 22).

Trans Fat

In a trans fats molecule, hydrogens are positioned across from each other rather than side by side.

Small amounts of trans fats occur naturally in dairy and other animal foods. However, nothing is natural about the trans fats used in processed foods.

These trans fats are produced by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats to create a product that functions more like a saturated fat. Ingredient labels often list them as “partially hydrogenated” fats.

Consuming trans fats can lead to a number of health problems. Artificial trans fatsare linked to inflammation, unhealthy cholesterol changes, impaired artery function, insulin resistance and excess belly fat (23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28).

One study estimated that replacing trans fat with other fats could reduce heart disease risk by up to 40%, depending on the type and amount of fat substituted (29).

Trans fats are often found in margarine and other processed spreads. Food manufacturers sometimes add them to packaged products such as crackers to help extend shelf life.

Bottom Line: Fats are grouped by the number of bonds in their carbon chains. Aside from trans fats, most fats have beneficial or neutral effects on health. However, a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio may cause problems.

Is oil healthy?

At the TCS complex, Chennai One, cardiologist Dr. Chockalingam munches a samosa, with a piece of chocolate cake waiting for its turn. Is that a medical certificate for what he is eating? He laughs and says, “Everything in moderation.” Our conversation — with Dr. Priya Chockalingam joining in — moves on to the use of cooking oil. Doesn’t our approach to it swing from one extreme to another? Is oil good, bad, or ugly?

“Before diving into oil, it’s important to understand that what we eat should provide us with carbohydrates, fats, proteins, water (macronutrients), vitamins and minerals (micronutrients),” says Dr. Priya, cardiac wellness physician. “These are essential nutrients that we cannot produce internally. We have to get them from our diet.” We need monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA); we can synthesise saturated fats (SFs). They are bad only when consumed in excess.

Types of fats in oil

“There is no way we can afford to avoid oil at any stage of our lives,” says Varsha, consultant nutritionist. “Lipids (oils plus solid fats at room temperature, 1 gram = 9 calories), besides giving us energy, are sources of fatty acids (its deficiency results in major health problems), and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D and K).”

Oils consist of MUFA/PUFA/SF in varying proportions, but in general, their SF content is low. Animal-based fats like butter and ghee, in contrast, are rich in SFs. Nuts, types of fish, and vegetables like avocado and olives have a lot of oil content. Plant-based fats increase good cholesterol (HDL) and decrease bad cholesterol. However, cholesterol is not part of the plant kingdom, is not derived directly from any nuts/seeds you munch. Yet, “HDL is indispensable for tissue function and cell memory,” says Dr. Chockalingam.

Only 20-30 per cent of our daily calories should come from fat, but we make it much higher. Excess fat is stored where we don’t want it, gets deposited in the arterial walls and blocks blood flow. Heart attack, stroke, breast/ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension, unhealthy weight gain, and joint pain are some of the ill effects associated with excessive fat consumption.

But if you totally avoid oil/oily natural items like nuts and fish, you’ll miss out on the MUFAs and PUFAs you need. The solution? “Balance intake, use oil wisely” — the principles of how we use what we eat is the same for all ages, says Dr. Priya. “Practise balanced healthy eating; keep oils to the bare minimum.” Oils have a lot of calories, “approximately 120 calories / tablespoon.” Excess oil, not burnt by physical activity, leads to unhealthy weight gain. Together with a sedentary lifestyle, it is a “killing combination.” “Develop a good mindset, exercise, desist from active/passive smoking and alcohol, and it will help HDL,” says Dr. Chockalingam.

Guidelines

How much oil is too much? “Recent healthy eating guidelines suggest using more than one type of oil in your daily diet,” Dr. Priya says. Sesame (nallennai), canola and olive oils have a lot of MUFAs — use them for salads and mild cooking. Sunflower, safflower and rice-bran oils have a lot of PUFAs — buy one for regular cooking. Trans-fat, found in hydrogenated vegetable oils and solid fats is too much in re-used cooking oils and burgers and pizzas. Trans-fat is bad — just stay away from it.

What is good for kids? Their energy requirement depends on their age (0-18) and physical/mental development, says Varsha. There are invisible and visible sources of lipids in diets, but a benchmark is a visible addition of 30-50 grams oils/day. She adds an interesting footnote: “As long as the plate and hands don’t require soap to clean up, one is doing good. And don’t fry all items at every meal.” Oils providing monounsaturates/polyunsaturates/saturates in the ratio of 1.5:1:1 is the recommendation.

Oils that are healthy at room temperature can become unhealthy when heated to certain temperatures, says Varsha. When oil is heated repeatedly, the proportion of harmful disintegrated parts increases. After deep-frying in it once/twice, use that oil for something else; don’t top it with fresh oil. Dietary-fat studies in UK/USA/Spain show polyunsaturated oils like soya, canola, sunflower, corn oils degrade easily to toxic compounds when heated. Prolonged consumption of any burnt oil leads to atherosclerosis, inflammatory joint disease and birth defects.

The final word? Peanut, mustard, coconut, and gingelly oil, used in different parts of India, are routine oils, she says. “Olive oil is the favourite in Mediterranean climes, where it is never exposed to heat. It is expensive and dangerous in Indian cuisines. Rice-bran is a speciality oil, and you know, coconut oil is re-emerging as the winner.”

mindbodygreen

Sure, all calories are the same in a laboratory when you burn them in a vacuum. Your body isn’t a laboratory, though; it’s an intricate, interconnected organism that simultaneously juggles thousands of duties.

Food isn’t just calories or a source of energy; it’s information that affects every biological function in your body. Food can literally “turn on” health genes or disease genes. Food influences your hormones, your brain chemistry, your immune system, and even your gut flora.

That idea becomes very empowering: You can change your health starting with your very next meal!

Studies show that healthy fats, not militant calorie counting or low-fat diets, can help you get lean. In human experiments, those who ate high-fat diets had a much faster metabolism. Low-fat, high-carb diets spiked insulin, subsequently slowing metabolism and storing as belly fat. The higher-fat diet group had a faster metabolism, even while eating the same amount of calories.

Other research, conducted by Dr. David Ludwig and his Harvard colleagues, compared high-fat, low-carb diets with high-carb, low-fat diets in a controlled feeding study (where researchers provide all the food). Again, the high-fat group did better.

Those researchers subsequently did something called a crossover trial, in which you assign the same study subjects to different diets. For half the study, they ate one way. For the other half, they ate the opposite diet. So half the group ate high-fat, low-carb and half ate low-fat, high-carb; then they flipped those diets for the second part of the study.

This type of study allows researchers to study the effects on metabolism for different diets on the same person, creating a more accurate, comprehensive picture about the most effective eating plan. While their ratios of carbs, proteins, and fats differed, both groups ate the exact same number of calories.

What happened was shocking. The high-fat group ended up burning 300 more calories a day than the low-fat group. The high-fat group also had the most improvements in cholesterol, including lower triglycerides, lower LDL, and lower levels of PIA-1, which shows less likelihood of having blood clots or inflammation. They also showed bigger improvements with insulin insulin resistance or pre-diabetes.

The take-home message here is that most of your fat-cell biology becomes controlled by the quality and type of food you eat. That explains why we should eat a whole-foods diet that’s lower in refined carbohydrates, low-glycemic, and high in fiber and quality fat — including avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and eggs.

Eat Fat, Lose Weight: The Anti-Hunger Diet

By Alex Orlov, Life by Daily Burn

Eat less, move more. That’s the theme behind most diets these days. If we just consume fewer calories and put in more hours at the gym, we’ll shed pounds, right?

According to David Ludwig, MD, PhD, leading obesity researcher and professor of nutrition at Harvard University, our time and energy might be better spent paying more attention to what we eat rather than how much we eat. In fact, our diet has the capacity to actually retrain our fat cells to burn more calories, Dr. Ludwig says.

Released January 2016, Dr. Ludwig’s book Always Hungry?: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently explains how and why we can rewire our taste buds and “hack” our fat cells through specific food choices. The result: We can break the cycle of cravings, intense hunger and overeating that cause many of us to gain weight.

So what’s the secret to enabling your body to burn more fat? Here’s the scoop on this latest diet advice.

Related: The 3-Day Military Diet: Is It Legit?

CRACKING YOUR FAT CELLS

Working with your body rather than against it is key to success, says Ludwig. His three-step program called “The Always Hungry Solution” allows you to eat as many calories as you’d like from start to finish of this diet. Your goal: Never go hungry and fill up on foods that enable you to burn fat, rather than store fat.

So what causes your body to hoard calories as fat, rather than use them for energy?

It all has to do with insulin, a hormone your pancreas secretes when you are digesting foods. “Insulin is like a Miracle-Gro for your fat cells,” Ludwig says.

When you eat a meal full of processed carbohydrates like breads and bakery goods, your insulin level skyrockets as your body digests the carbs in your food and immediately stores the glucose (sugar) from your food in your fat cells. And when your body can’t access the calories in your fat cells? Hunger strikes! Your body experiences an energy crisis and it will demand food, stat. If you’re reaching for more processed carbs like bagels or pastas to stay satiated, the vicious hunger cycle won’t stop.

Your solution: Eat more fat. “The fastest way to lower insulin levels is to substitute fat for processed carbohydrates,” says Ludwig. Seems counterintuitive that fatty foods can help you lose weight, right? Catch is: They have to be healthy sources of fat (think: olive oil and avocados, not Reese’s and Doritos). Foods rich in fat will help you feel satiated, and they won’t trigger the insulin high and crash that most processed carbs do. Without insulin highs and lows, your blood sugar will be more stable and your body can access the fuel it’s storing in your fat cells.

Related: 12 Brilliant Meal Prep Ideas to Free Up Your Time

How to Get Started

In Always Hungry, Dr. Ludwig outlines his three-phase program for losing weight for good. His book is filled with tips on how to dine out and still eat healthy, nourishing recipes created by his wife, a professional chef, and insights on how to tap into your own motivation.

Overall, the diet’s emphasis on fatty foods like avocado and nut butters is similar to the Whole 30, but followers are still allowed to eat dairy, beans, and slow-digesting carbohydrates that are usually off the table for Paleo-type diets. A seven-day prep phase (which includes taking body measurements, cleaning your pantry and preparing meals) helps set you up for success, and then you’ll launch into the three phases of the diet:

Phase OneFor two weeks, you’ll eat a diet consisting of 50 percent fat, 25 percent carbs and 25 percent protein. All grain products, added sugars, and potatoes are off limits, and you have the option to follow these detailed menus. (Still on the table: fruits and natural carbs like beans and legumes.) The low-carb approach is meant to jump-start weight loss and help you conquer cravings.

Phase TwoThe length of this phase could last anywhere from several weeks to six months, depending on how much weight you want to lose. You’ll consume 40 percent of your calories from fat, 35 percent carbs, and 25 percent protein. During this period, you can add in slow-digesting carbs like brown rice, quinoa, and oats.

Phase ThreeThis is the lifestyle, or maintenance phase. You’ll aim to eat a diet consisting of roughly 40 percent fat, 40 percent carbs, and 20 percent protein. (This ratio is very similar to the Mediterranean Diet.)

Some people can lose two or three pounds a week on this program, while others will lose less, Ludwig notes. “The biggest obstacle is expectations from diets that promise sensational weight loss,” he says. What you need: a radically different attitude to eating and living well. Part of the reason the Always Hungry Solution works for some might be the gentle approach it takes to eating. “When you put biology on your side, you accomplish the most with the least amount of effort,” says Ludwig.

Related: 5 Healthier Ways to Detox (That Aren’t Juice Cleanses)

Can you eat too much healthy fat?

One of the reasons the Mediterranean diet gets so much (worthy) praise is because of its emphasis on healthy fats. There are undeniable benefits to consuming them—from reducing your risk of heart disease to helping regulate blood sugar levels and maintaining weight.

As the popularity of this eating mentality has grown, however, food marketers are urging the fit set to up their intake of omega 3 and unsaturated fats with wild abandon. Health-conscious eaters are tossing chia seeds into smoothies, ordering the salmon in lieu of chicken, and sprinkling a handful of nuts over everything. But, you may want to think twice before you pay extra for avocado every single time: dietitians agree that eating too much of anything is bad news.

How much healthy fat is too much healthy fat

Anything more than 35 percent of your daily calorie intake is too much fat. The National Nutrition Guidelines (USDA) and the American Heart Association agree that a healthy diet can include up to that amount of total calories from fat, but note that saturated fats (like cheese) should be limited to less than 10 percent of that number. “If you look at an 1,800 calorie per day diet, 35 percent is about 70 grams of fat per day,” says Steven Gundry MD, Medical Director of The International Heart and Lung Institute in Palm Springs, California. (For a frame of reference, half an avocado has 16 grams of fat and one tablespoon of nut butter has about 9.5 grams.)

When athletes should adjust the number

While this is the general rule of thumb, athletes may have different fat intake needs. “Endurance athletes typically require more carbohydrates than non-athletes so they would consume less of their calories from fat,” says LA-based personal trainer and nutrition coach Melissa Merritt. Strength trainers, on the other hand, typically tend to do better with higher fat diets so they can stick closer to the 35 percent guideline.

Why not to OD on healthy fat

While they’re not artery-clogging like the bad fats, even healthy ones contain a high amount of calories—nine calories per every one gram compared to carbs and protein which yield around four calories per gram. Some examples: An avocado can add a whopping 300 calories to your meal, a single teaspoon of coconut or olive oil has around 40 calories, and one handful of nuts can equate to about 150-200 calories. As you can see, going overboard can easily cause unnecessary weight gain, “which can inadvertently lead to all the conditions associated with obesity and being overweight such as heart disease, cancer, sleep apnea, and joint pain,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, a nutritionist based in New York City and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen.

And if you’re not eating too many calories but rather, too high of a percentage of them from fat, that means you’re neglecting other nutrients. “Going above and beyond and consuming greater than 35 percent of your calories from fat could mean that you are missing out on other important components of a nutritious diet,” Gundry says. “Protein is important for athletes in order to repair and remodel skeletal muscle cells after training and carbs are a key fuel source before training and help replace depleted glycogen stores after intense exercise,” adds Merritt. A 2016 study in Nutrition Bulletinsuggests that a 132-pound athlete should aim for a daily protein intake of 72-120 grams, while a 176-pound athlete should opt for between 96 and 160 grams. Overdoing the healthy fats without adding extra calories could significantly cut into these numbers.

Let us interrupt your love affair with avocado for just a moment.

No, it doesn’t have to be a breakup, just a little reminder for anyone enjoying large quantities of avocado toast, guacamole, avocado salad, avocado scrambled eggs, avocado wraps and avocado smoothies — and feeling good about it because of the “good fat.”

It all started with a TODAY article about foods cardiologists try to avoid and a conversation with Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado, and a member of the American College of Cardiology’s Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Section Leadership Council.

Freeman mentioned he was taken aback by how much of the fatty fruit everyone seems to be consuming.

“It feels like people are eating avocados by the dozen, like every day,” Freeman told TODAY. “I tell people to certainly enjoy avocado, but not to overdo it. Because it seems crazy — I just feel like people are eating unbelievable quantities.”

When it comes to avocados, you can have too much of a good thing and overdo it, said NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor Madelyn Fernstrom and Kristin Kirkpatrick, manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute and a TODAY contributor.

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First, let’s talk about all the wonderful health aspects of an avocado.

A whole fruit contains about 21 grams of heart healthy monounsaturated fat, Fernstrom said. This type of fat — also found in nuts and vegetable oils — can help lower your LDL, or bad, cholesterol, and helps develop and maintain your cells, according to the National Institutes of Health. This fat is also high in vitamin E, which is needed for healthy vision and a healthy immune system, the agency added.

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Monounsaturated fats can have a positive effect on your health when eaten in moderation, the American Heart Association notes.

One avocado also contains 10 grams of fiber — or almost half of your daily requirement — and with a variety of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B-6 and magnesium, the fruit is also naturally free of sodium, cholesterol, and sugar, Fernstrom said.

“Its creamy texture and high fat content makes portion control easy because a small serving provides high eating satisfaction and fullness,” she noted.

“Studies show that consumption of avocado could help with reducing the risk of both metabolic syndrome as well as heart disease. Plus, avocados are a filling, lower-carbohydrate snack for anyone looking to lose weight,” Kirkpatrick added.

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So what’s the problem?

Avocados are not calorie-free.

One avocado — about one cup cubed — contains about 240 calories, or about 10-20 percent of most people’s daily calorie needs, said Fernstrom. Think of them as a fat, not a fruit. Heart-healthy fats have the same amount of calories as artery-clogging fats, so moderation is key to maintain a healthy weight.

“When you eat avocados, the calories add up quickly. You can overdo even healthy foods if it ends up costing you hundreds of extra calories per day that your body simply does not need,” Kirkpatrick noted.

Some of her patients have rationalized their decision to overeat fried corn chips because they thought the chips were a “healthy snack” when guacamole was present.

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How much to eat:

One avocado a day can help improve bad cholesterol levels in overweight and obese people, a study published in 2015 in the Journal of the American Heart Association found.

Make avocados part of your daily healthy eating plan, but consider downsizing your servings to:

  • half of a whole fruit, 120 calories
  • a third, 80 calories
  • a few thin slices, 65 calories

Balance it with a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to maximize nutrient intake.

If you’re struggling to lose weight, find yourself gaining weight or develop any condition that requires you to slash all fats in the diet, it might be time to take a hard look at having avocados all day long, Kirkpatrick said.

Try it on salads, sprouted whole grain bread or just by itself.

By the way, avocado oil offers another option for heart-healthy cooking, but it has a distinct taste, can be pricey and, like all oils, has 120 calories per tablespoon, Fernstrom said.

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Yesterday, it was mashed avocado slathered on gluten-free toast, a runny egg and a few dashes of Sriracha hot sauce. Today’s lunch? Cubed avocado on your spinach salad. So would guacamole with tonight’s tacos be overkill?

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Sure, you can’t technically “overdose” on avocado, is there ever too much?

Functional medicine dietitian Ariana Cucuzza, RD, says there’s no one simple answer because no two bodies are the same.

“Obviously, there is good reason for including avocado in your diet because it offers so many benefits,” Cucuzza says. “But like anything good, people do have a tendency to go overboard.

“It is all the rage right now. And with good reason. It has the ability to be sweet or savory. You can throw it in a smoothie for texture or make some guac. But this is one of those instances when there’s no one-size-fits-all for recommendations.”

But some basic guidance

Deciding how many avocados to throw in the grocery basket? You first have to look at what your goals are for your weight, gut health, overall healthy diet — and your body type, activity level and genes, Cucuzza says.

“Usually, I would recommend that ½ to one avocado a day is reasonable,” she says.

She notes that since avocados are a pretty significant source of healthy monounsaturated fat, they make you more satisfied and are harder to overdo because they tend to fill you up. (Of the 20 to 25 total grams of fat in avocados, 15 grams is monounsaturated fat.)

It’s worth noting that avocados aren’t low-cal, with a whole one generally having between 200 and 300 calories, depending on size. But functional medicine experts don’t usually focus on calories alone, Cucuzza explains. “We really look more at increasing whole foods in the diet first,” she says. “We find when patients eat more real food, and less processed food, things tend to fall into place.”

Don’t make it your only healthy fat

Going all gung-ho on avocado? Just be sure not to eat it so much of it that you’re shunning other healthy fats in your diet.

“If you’re getting all of your healthy fat from avocados, you’re not getting all of the benefits from things like olives, olive oil, nuts and seeds,” Cucuzza says. “To maintain an overall healthy diet, variety is key to get everything that your body needs.”

After all, we now know that fat doesn’t make you fat per se. The real culprit of many issues — like metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes — is processed carbohydrates, not the fat we’re consuming, she says.

Singing avocado’s praises

Besides its healthy fats, there’s plenty of other lesser-known reasons to include avocado on your plate.

“Avocados are really high in fiber, which is important for feeling full between meals and for keeping our digestive tract moving and lowering our cholesterol,” Cucuzza says.

It’s also really high in potassium, one of those good electrolytes that’s essential for our heart, muscles and many body processes.

Plus, avocado actually helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K. “So eating avocado with a salad or a lot of different vegetables actually helps you to absorb the vitamins from those foods,” she says.

That vitamin E is important for immune function. And overall, avocados are known for supporting brain function and healthy memory thanks to their healthy fats.

Those who should eat avocado more sparingly

If you’re really watching your weight, Cucuzza says, it’s probably wise to stick to about one-half to one whole avocado per day, assuming you are also eating other sources of healthy fats.

Avocados are also a higher FODMAP food, meaning they contain carbohydrates that may not be digested or absorbed well. So, those following a low-FODMAP diet or those with intestinal bacterial overgrowth will also want to stick to an eighth an avocado serving, although there is no magic amount for everyone.

The bottom line? “Avocado could be part of your daily diet as long as you’re including a variety of colors, textures and kinds of food,” Cucuzza concludes.

Eating too much fat

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