Healthy Snack Ideas

The Best Healthy Avocado Substitutes to Add to Your Diet

Photo: Stocksy/Natasa Mandic
Avocados are officially a food staple—whether they're eaten smashed onto some whole grain toast, as guacamole, or on their own with a pinch of salt. But not everyone is a fan. And they've earned their rep as a gold standard for healthy fats for good reason. "Avocados are full of properties that help eliminate toxins and inflammation stuck inside your tissues, contain healthy omega-3 fats that support the absorption of nutrients and minerals through the cell walls, and are high in fibers that help to bind toxins in the gut so you can eliminate potentially harmful consequences due to everyday foods, stress, and environmental toxins," says health coach Jenny Carr, author of Peace of Cake: The Secret to An Anti-Inflammatory Diet.

But not everyone is into the green creamy fruit. In which case, an avocado substitute is needed. For some people, it's the taste they can't stand. For others, it's the texture. Then there are those that experience gastro distress when they eat too much of it. Or, the aversion could be caused by an allergy. If you tend to experience itching and/or swelling of your lips, tongue, throat, or face in general, you might be experiencing oral allergy syndrome (OAS)—and unfortunately, avocado is one of the foods people are often allergic to, says Harvard Medical School. And if you're already allergic to latex, it's not uncommon to develop an allergy to avocados at some point (as well as bananas, kiwi, chestnuts, and papaya).

Even if you can eat avocados, it's never a bad thing to cut down once in a while. According to Michigan State University, the high demand for avocados year-round in the US has made farmers in Mexico up the sizes of their farms, causing deforestation issues and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. So, if you're looking for an avocado substitute for any of the above reasons—or your own, here are seven healthy alternatives that'll help you get your fix.

What To Eat Instead of Avocado

1. Pesto

If you love the texture of ooey gooey avocado, pesto is a solid replacement. "Similar to mashed avocados, pesto gives that rich, moist, and oily texture that's full of flavor," Carr says. Plus, since it's typically made with basil and pine nuts, you're getting plenty of vitamin A, iron, magnesium, protein, and healthy fat. Just be sure to make it with extra virgin olive oil instead canola to keep the inflammation at bay, she says.

How to use it: Carr recommends putting pesto, like this delicious spinach pesto recipe, on your gluten-free toast or in a quinoa pasta salad.

2. Nut butter

One of the most satisfying toast-toppers—aside from avocado, of course—is nut butter. There are plenty of different options—whether that's almond, cashew, regular ol' peanut—and each of them will give you a good amount of protein and healthy fat, à la avos.

How to use it: Spread these nut butters with high protein on whole grain toast or an English muffin, or add it to your oatmeal or smoothies.

3. Hummus

Sorry, avocados, but hummus might give you a run for your money in the dipping department. "Many people love to dip their chips or celery sticks into a beautiful bowl of guacamole," Carr says. "If avocados are a no-go, then hummus is the perfect swap for that creamy, satiating, and tasty treat. Plus, it gives you a nice dose of a clean protein." When choosing a store-bought variety, she recommends avoiding options that contain canola oil.

How to use it: Dip your veggies in it, smear it onto toast, or use it in your sandwiches in place of avocado slices, says Carr. Or, check out these alternative hummus recipes (made without chickpeas).

4. Bananas

Thanks to banana's texture, it's the perfect substitute for creamy avocado. "Like avocados, bananas offer smoothies a smooth texture and consistency. And they even deliver a perfect dash of added sweetness," Carr says.

How to use them: Put it in your smoothie, add them into your oatmeal, or turn them into nice cream.

5. Chia seeds

Chia seeds might not be similar to avocados on a taste or texture level, but they definitely are health-wise. "Avocados are high-fat, high-fiber foods. If you're looking for a food swap with similar nutritional values, your best option are chia seeds," Carr says. "Similar to avocados, chia seeds have inflammatory fighting omega-3 fats, and they happen to be one of the most fiber-rich foods. And an added bonus: They even come packaged in a complete protein."

How to use them: Make some chia seed pudding or add them into your smoothie bowls.

6. Silken Tofu

Tofu, a soybean product, is made from condensed, unfermented soy milk that's been processed into solid white blocks. Though it can come in different variations, like firm and soft, we find that silky tofu tends to have a similar consistency to a perfectly ripe avocado. The good news is that tofu has about eight grams of protein per 100-gram serving and has a neutral flavor that can be doctored up with some of your favorite avo-friendly ingredients like everything bagel seasoning.

How to use them: Here are eight not-so-boring tofu recipes, including a creamy tofu fettucine Alfredo.

7. Edamame

Of course, one of the best parts about eating an avocado is the vibrant green color. But when searching for a good substitute for this mighty fruit, it's tough to find suitable counterparts that have the same hue. Enter edamame. Aside from being visually stunning, this soybean is packed with loads of health benefits including: tons of protein, every single essential amino acid, and loads of vitamins like K.

How to use them: Try this silky green apple edamame smoothie recipe for breakfast.

What is avocado?

An avocado is a medium-sized fruit (not a nut) with a large pit in the center that's surrounded by bright green flesh. Its skin can either be smooth and dark green or dark and leathery, depending on the variety. Avocados are considered ethylene producers (aka they emit a plant hormone that triggers the ripening process). This is why you may notice that they have a rather short lifespan once harvested compared to other fruits like blueberries or strawberries that aren't sensitive to ethylene.

What can I substitute instead of avocado?

Avocados are also packed with tons of health benefits, including healthy fats. Specifically, monounsaturated fats, which can help improve cholesterol levels and give it that rich and creamy texture ideal for making avocado toast or a medley of other avocado recipes. However, if you're not fond of or can't consume this fruit, there are plenty of other foods with healthy fats, including: organic extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil, almond oil, macadamia oil, unrefined sesame oil, tahini, flax oil, hemp oil, nuts and seeds, butter (from pastured grass-fed cows, goats, or sheep), olives and other plant sources of fat, grass-fed ghee, organic humanely raised tallow, lard, duck fat, or chicken fat, coconut oil or MCT oil, and sustainable palm oil.

What does avocado taste similar to?

Of these options, we've found that a few ingredients that either share similar flavor profiles as the fruit or have comparable nutritional value. In terms of taste, edamame, tofu, and hummus can offer good replacements. However, when it comes to nutritional bioavailability, we'd opt for nut butter, chia seeds, or pesto for added nutrients and benefits.

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