You Can Blame the Keto Diet for Those Expensive Avocados
Don't point fingers at the rising popularity of avocado toast; high-fat, low-carb diets are the culprit for the avocado price hike.
It wasn't long ago that some Australian billionaire was blaming millennials' obsession with avocado toast for their financial woes. And, listen, there's nothing wrong with dropping $19 if you have it for smashed avocado on bread for that brunch 'gram.
But if you're just trying to eat healthily and maybe lose some weight, you're probably dealing with sticker shock every time you hit the supermarket for fresh produce. Turns out keto dieters—along with other high-fat, low-carb devotees—have driven up the average price of high-fat foods like avocados, butter, olive oil, and salmon by as much as 60 percent in the past six years, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. (The price of starches like corn, soybeans, and wheat has pretty much remained the same or dropped.)
The keto diet calls for 70 percent of calories to come from healthy fats, 20 percent from protein, and only 10 percent from carbs. Keto dieters love avocados because they're full of monounsaturated fats, or "healthy" fats, which can decrease the risk for heart disease and help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, K, D, and E. Plus, an average-size avocado has 227 calories, and 20 grams of fat, which is about 188 calories of fat per avocado, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. If you're on keto and consuming 2,000 calories a day, 70 percent—or 1,400—of those calories should come from healthy fats. You can’t get *all* those calories from avocados; you'd need to eat more than 7 a day.
But people are eating more than ever before, and as demand for these healthy fats has increased, land availability, growing seasons, and environmental concerns have kept manufacturers from going HAM on providing more products. Naturally, that's driven the market price up.
But, listen, relying only on avocados for your healthy fats is pretty lazy at this point. There are so many other healthy high-fat keto foods you can turn to instead of avocados: full-fat Greek yogurt, macadamia nuts, virgin coconut oil, cream cheese and tuna, bacon, algae, eggs, and grass-fed steak are just a few.
Plus, avocados are the least reliable healthy food in the supermarket. In November 2018, issues between avocado growers and packing and distribution companies in Michoacán, Mexico's top avocado-producing state, caused avocado shipments to drop by 88 percent. And experts warned of another shortage right before this year's Super Bowl, due to a fuel shortage in Mexico that had workers struggling to harvest the 120,000 tons of avocados that growers were hoping to ship to the U.S. That caused prices of avocado in 2018 to jump nearly $20 per carton.
Fact: It's not always cheap to eat healthily. But if you're really trying to follow one of these trendy diets, it's not just about choosing the obvious option (cough, pricey avocado smoothie) in order to stick to the parameters. You should always do your research before going all in on a restrictive diet like keto (Jillian Michaels hates it because it nearly eliminates an entire macronutrient group) because as popular as it is, it might not be the healthiest choice for you. And if you can't afford to stick to keto 100 percent, there are still healthy eating rules you can take from it.
Just remember that as great as avocados are, they're just one food. And healthy fats are just one part of a healthy balanced diet. If you can't bring yourself to drop $5 per piece of fruit, that's OK—there are plenty other options in the grocery store that won't break the bank.