Florida avocados are the larger, smooth-skinned choices. California avocados sold in supermarkets are the Hass variety, and are smaller and have a pebbly skin that turns from green to a purplish-black when ripe. The biggest nutritional difference between California and Florida avocados is their fat content. For each golf ball-sized portion (two tablespoons, or two to three thin slices), a California avocado such as Hass contains 4.6 grams of fat and the same portion of a Florida avocado averages 3 grams of fat. More than half the fat in avocados is the healthy monounsaturated fat (the type in olive oil) and saturated fat is minimal.
You may sometimes see Florida avocados marketed as “lite” avocados – an effort to highlight their lower fat content. This difference in fat content means Florida avocados are a little lower in calories than the California types. For that golf ball-sized portion, the Florida variety has 36 calories versus 50 for the California one. Otherwise, nutritional value of the two types is similar. Avocados contain the B vitamin folate (especially California avocados), vitamin K and fiber. Both avocados also contain lutein (the carotene “cousin” of beta-carotene that may promote eye health), but the amounts don’t come close to what’s in truly high-lutein vegetables like kale, spinach and other cooked greens.
Many people prefer the rich flavor of California avocados, and for guacamole and other dips, it’s hard to beat their creamy texture. For slices in a salad, however, some prefer the way the Florida type holds its shape. Either is a great way to add flavor, fiber and a healthy fat to your meal while adding essentially zero sodium. For weight control, simply enjoy their good taste in moderate portions.
For a refreshing way to try either type of avocado, try this Simple Summer Salsa, which also features mango and jicama.