If I asked you to picture an avocado, chances are good that you’d conjure up an image of a Hass avocado, the most popular avocado variety in the United States. But there’s more than one type of avocado out there—and as anyone who has accidentally grabbed a Florida avocado instead of a Hass avocado in the grocery store knows, there’s a big difference between Florida and Haas avocados. But why is there difference between types of avocados? Why do Florida and California avocados look and taste so different if they’re all avocados? And what about nutrition? Avocados are healthy, in general, but is it true that Florida avocados are healthier than their California brethren?
Let’s start by getting some names and numbers down first. About 95 percent of all avocados eaten in the United States are Hass avocados, according to data form the Hass Avocado Board. The Hass avocado was named after the man who patented it back in 1935: California postman Rudolph Hass. These Hass avocados are oval shaped with a bumpy black, nearly purple, skin when ripe. They weigh between five to twelve ounces, and, when you cut it open, the flesh is a creamy green. It's the avocado you think of using when you're making guacamole or avocado toast or even vegan chocolate cake.
Florida avocados, however, are very different. These avocado varieties, including the Choquette and the Lula, are primarily grown in Florida, as the name might suggest, and they are significantly larger than the Hass avocado. Choquette avocados, for example, can weigh as much as 32 ounces, nearly three times the weight of a large Hass avocado. The texture is also entirely different, both inside and out. The skin is smooth and green, rather than bumpy and black, and the flesh of the avocado itself, while still green, is less creamy, more watery and mild. It's less avocado-to-the-face and more "avocado rainwater," as one writer from Food Republic described it.
The "watery" texture of the Florida avocado is a result of a lower fat content than the Hass, or California, avocado. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a cup of raw Florida avocado has 23.14 grams of fat while a cup of raw California avocado has 35.44 grams of fat. Florida avocados are also a lower calorie option than California avocados; a Florida avocado has 276 calories per cup, while a California avocado comes in at 384 calories per cup. This lower fat content and calorie count has led some producers of Florida avocados to brand them as "healthier" than California avocados; Florida-based Brooks Tropicals, for example, calls their Florida avocados SlimCados.
California avocados aren't unhealthy, though. Sure, they have a higher fat content, but it's mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are the "healthy" fats. What that means, practically, is that eating foods with these monounsaturated fats "can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke," according to the American Heart Association. A 2013 review of scientific journal articles found compelling evidence across studies that "avocados may support weight management and healthy aging," too.
Though every avocado variety comes with different health benefits, by the time you're eating a raw avocado—which, again, is a fruit—you're making a healthy choice, regardless where it comes from. Really, the choice should come down to taste and texture. If you want an avocado you can mash up, like for guacamole, then go for the Hass. But if you need something that holds its shape better and tastes less fatty, then a Florida avocado is probably your speed. Either way, it'll be good, because it's got avocado.