Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids.
The South Beach diet was developed in 2003 by Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist practicing in Miami. This diet is a variant of low-carbohydrate weight-loss programs such as the Atkins diet, according to MayoClinic.com. South Beach consists of three phases that emphasize plenty of lean protein and healthy fats such as those contained in avocados, while restricting carbohydrates from fruit, starches and grains. Before beginning the South Beach Diet, or any other weight-management plan that requires a significant change in your eating habits, talk to your doctor.
Guidelines for Avocados
Avocados are allowed on all three phases of the South Beach diet, even during Phase 1, which prohibits all other fruits and fruit juices. This is because avocados are considered a fat source, not a fruit. Agatston advises that South Beach dieters should count one-third of a fresh avocado as equivalent to 1 tablespoon of oil when planning their daily meals and snacks.
Benefits from Avocado
One-third of an avocado contains 10 grams of total fat, with approximately 6.5 grams supplied by monounsaturated fatty acids, according to the USDA. Registered dietitian Katherine Zeratsky of MayoClinic.com says that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats like those from avocados may help prevent diabetes and may lower your risk of heart disease by increasing your blood levels of HDL, or "good" cholesterol, while decreasing your LDL -- "bad" cholesterol -- levels.
During the South Beach diet's two-week Phase 1, all starches and whole grains are strictly prohibited. To incorporate avocados into your meals during this phase, mix diced avocados into salads of leafy greens and lean steak or poultry, or serve tuna or shrimp salad in the hollowed center of a ripe avocado half. You can also prepare a dip from mashed avocados and low-fat cottage cheese and eat it with vegetable sticks. Complex carbohydrates are reintroduced into Phases 2 and 3 of the South Beach diet. During these phases, layer avocado slices with vegetables in whole-wheat or whole-grain wraps, or use mashed avocado as a healthier substitute for mayonnaise in sandwiches.
Even though avocados are an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated fats, Zeratsky cautions against consuming them in excess. The calories you get from fat -- regardless of the source -- should not exceed 20 to 35 percent of your daily caloric intake, says Zeratsky. If you're following the South Beach diet and stick to the plan's rules for fat intake -- no more than 2 tablespoons of approved fat sources such as avocados, canola oil and extra virgin olive oil each day during all three of the diet's phases -- your fat consumption should stay within the recommended boundaries.