Fifteen years ago, a New York Times reporter, a Good Day New York news crew, and a guy dressed like an avocado knocked on the door of an unsuspecting Bronx resident named Nancy Bayer to introduce her—and the rest of the country—to the California avocado. Bayer was treated to an avocado-stuffed omelet, as well as an avocado facial, and then a magician named Eddie made a bowl of avocados disappear. Before that show, many Americans had no idea just how versatile avocados really were.
Then, in 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) loosened restrictions on imported food and allowed shipments of avocados to start coming into the U.S. from Mexico, its largest producer.
Since then, we’ve become absolutely obsessed with avocados. So much so, that we consumed more than twice the avocados per capita in 2016 than we did in 2006, despite a nationwide avocado shortage that year.
Even after a 125 percent price surge in 2017, many health-conscious Americans continue to eat avocados almost every day, whether on toast or salads, in omelets, mashed into guacamole, or blended into smoothies.
We’ve clearly got it bad for the funky green fruit—but are we going a little avocado overboard? After all, “oftentimes in America, we find a health fad and we overdo it,” says Shivani Gupta, Ph.D., a nutritional research scientist and CEO of Fusionary Formulas.
Sure, avocadoes are great for us: They’re a good source of healthy unsaturated fat and antioxidants, are high in fiber and potassium, and have anti-inflammatory properties. All good things—except when we have them in excessive amounts. Too much fiber can cause uncomfortable side effects like bloating, gas, and cramping, while excess potassium can spell symptoms of fatigue, chest pain, and even heart palpitations in those with heart or kidney conditions, explains Sushrutha Nagaraj, a research scientist for nutritional research company Almeda Labs. Plus, an average avocado packs about 250 calories and between 20 and 25 grams of fat, so eating them every day can easily contribute to overdoing it on calories and fat.
Calorie concerns aside, are there some people who shouldn’t have avocados? Maybe. Avocado allergies are a very real thing—especially for people with other allergies. “Typically, people who are allergic to latex show a cross-reactivity to fruits like bananas, papaya, and avocados,” says Nagaraj. It’s a weird connection—and one that’s not quite clear to experts yet. People with an avocado allergy often break out in a rash or find that their tongue swells or mouth becomes itchy after eating it.
Some experts, like researcher Valter Longo, Ph.D., Director of the USC Longevity Institute, also believe that avocados could spur inflammation in certain people—namely those whose ancestors didn’t eat the fruit—if eaten in large quantities for a long period of time. “Since it’s a new ingredient to our diets, our [body] may think of it as an alien ingredient and exhibit an inflammatory response [to] fight the invader and repair [itself],” says Nagaraj.
The research on genetics and nutrition needed to confirm that theory is still developing, though, so you don’t need to go swearing off your avocado toast just yet. If you’re concerned about inflammation and what foods might be triggering it, Gupta recommends trying a food sensitivity test, like Everlywell or Viome, to identify the foods that don’t jive with your system.
Otherwise, consider it a-okay to enjoy three or four avocados per week, says Nagaraj. And, hey, a recent Nutrition study found that those who regularly ate avocados also ate more fruits and vegetables, fewer added sugars, and had lower BMIs and waist circumferences overall—so keep calm and guac on.