By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD
Avocados are pear-shaped fruits that grow on tropical evergreen trees.
They generally have a rough, green outer skin, buttery flesh, and large seed in the middle.
Coming in many shapes, sizes, colors, and textures, their flavor is often described as mildly nutty and creamy.
Though you may only be familiar with a few types of avocado, hundreds of varieties are cultivated around the world — with 56 growing in Florida alone. Many are hybrids, meaning that they're the result of two varieties being bred together to create a new one (1).
This article reviews 15 common types of avocado, including their benefits and differences.
Health Benefits of Avocados
Avocados are highly nutritious. They're great sources of folate, potassium, and healthy fats, as well as vitamins K, C, and E. They also contain small amounts of B vitamins and minerals, such as copper, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron, and zinc (2, 3Trusted Source).
The monounsaturated fats in avocados — most of which are oleic acid — are good for your heart, fight inflammation, and may have anticancer properties. Eating avocados can also help you better absorb other fat-soluble nutrients (1, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Furthermore, avocados are full of fiber, an important nutrient lacking in most Western diets. Some studies have found that people who eat avocados tend to weigh less, perhaps due to the fruit's high content of fiber and healthy fat, as well as its low glycemic index (3Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
Avocados also contain antioxidants that are good for your eyes and brain, such as lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
What's more, research suggests that people who regularly eat avocados are healthier and have a lower risk of metabolic syndrome. However, this may be because many people who enjoy this fruit also appear to eat many other healthy foods (12Trusted Source).
Avocados are very nutritious fruits that offer many vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fats, fiber, and antioxidants that may help prevent disease and improve your health.
Different Types of Avocados
While you may only see a few types of avocado at your local grocery store, hundreds of varieties grow around the world. Though many hybrids exist, all avocados can be traced to either Guatemalan, Mexican, or West Indian origin (1, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).
The fruits are categorized as either A-type or B-type cultivars. The difference lies in the opening times and pollination behaviors of the avocado tree flowers. The type of cultivar has little effect on consumers and matters more to those who grow avocados.
Avocados are partially self-pollinating through a process called dichogamy. A-type flowers bloom as females in the morning and shed pollen as males in the afternoon. Oppositely, B-type flowers receive pollen in the afternoon and shed it in the morning (15).
Many varieties share similar features, with slight differences in size, coloring, flavor, shape, and peak growing season.
In the United States, avocados from California (Hass variety) are smaller with a pebbly skin, while those from Florida are larger and have a smoother skin (16).
Here are 15 of the most common types of avocado.
Though there are many more, below are some of the better-known A-type-cultivar avocados:
1. Choquette. The Choquette has smooth, glossy skin with watery flesh that often leaks when the fruit is cut. This variety comes from South Florida.
2. Lula. The Lula peaks during the summertime, has fewer natural oils, and contains more water than many other varieties. It's resistant to cold but highly susceptible to fungi. The Lula grows to weigh around 1 pound (450 grams).
3. Hass. The Hass is the most popular variety. It's available all year round and has a buttery, nutty flavor and spherical shape. Its skin turns from a bold green to a dark purplish-black as it ripens.
4. Reed. The Reed is only available during the summer months. It has a lighter, more subtle flavor and is about the size of a softball. As the Reed ripens, its skin remains the same green color, unlike other types.
5. Pinkerton. The Pinkerton has an oblong shape, rough skin that is easy to peel, and small seed inside of a creamy flesh. This type grows to 0.5–1.5 pounds (225–680 grams).
6. Gwen. The Gwen is similar to the Hass avocado in taste and appearance. This is a larger Guatemalan variety with a thick, dark-green skin that is easy to remove.
7. Maluma. The Maluma is a dark-purple avocado that was discovered in the 1990s in South Africa. This variety grows slowly, but the trees bear a lot of fruit.
Some of the B-type-cultivar avocados include:
1. Ettinger. The Ettinger is most often grown in Israel and has a bright green skin, large seed, and mild flavor.
2. Sharwil. The Sharwil is an Australian avocado with a rough, green peel and yellow flesh. It's very oily with a bold flavor and is susceptible to frost.
3. Zutano. The Zutano is covered in a lighter, yellow-green skin and has a mild taste that's unlike many other, more buttery varieties. It typically grows to around 0.5–1 pound (225–450 grams).
4. Brogden. The Brogden avocado is a dark-purple hybrid of West Indian and Mexican varieties. Though it's very resistant to the cold, it's hard to peel and thus not a popular commercial variety.
5. Fuerte. The Fuerte is distinctly pear-shaped and available for eight months of the year. Its name means "strong" in Spanish, and it has an oily texture similar to that of a hazelnut.
6. Cleopatra. The Cleopatra is a small dwarf avocado that is relatively new to the consumer market.
7. Bacon. The Bacon has a lighter taste than other varieties. Its light-brown skin is easy to peel.
8. Monroe. The Monroe is a large avocado that can weigh over 2 pounds (910 grams). It's a firmer variety and has less watery flesh.
Hundreds of avocado varieties grow around the world, including many hybrids. Avocados are generally categorized as A-type or B-type cultivars, based on their pollination and flowering behaviors.
How to Choose the Healthiest Avocado
In regards to nutrition, avocados are generally very similar, regardless of the type. All avocados are calorically dense and high in healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Avocados from Florida are sometimes advertised as "lite" due to their lower fat content compared with the popular Hass avocado, but the overall nutritional difference between the two is small.
Overall, avocados are very nutritious, and all types offer similar health benefits.
Most avocados only differ slightly in their nutritional composition, as they're all calorically dense and high in healthy fats and various vitamins and minerals.
The Bottom Line
Avocados are highly nutritious fruits that offer many benefits.
They're rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants, unsaturated fats, and fiber, which may help lower your risk of various chronic diseases and improve your health.
Though only one or two varieties are best known, hundreds of types exist around the world, primarily differing in size, color, shape, texture, and flavor.
The most popular and widely available type of avocado is the Hass. However, if you come across another variety, it would likely have a similar nutritional composition.
In any case, avocados make a great addition to a healthy, balanced diet.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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