Avocado Increases Carotenoid Absorption
Avocados contain carotenoids which are colorful plant pigments and powerful antioxidants that can prevent some forms of cancer and heart disease. Some carotenoids can be turned to Vitamin A in the body and enhance your immune response to infections.
Most fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids. They help give the yellow-orange-red color of many vegetables and fruits. These offer outstanding health benefits but only if they are absorbed up into your cells. Fat plays a big part in absorbing the intake of these carotenoids. Many of the best food for obtaining carotenoids—for example, sweet potatoes, carrots, and leafy greens—contain very little fat (less than 1 gram per serving).
As a special step for improving carotenoid absorption from carotenoid-rich foods, researchers have experimented with the addition of avocado to meal choices including salads, side servings of leafy greens, side servings of carrots, or tomato sauce. The amount of avocado added has varied from study to study but averages approximately 1 cup or 1 small/medium avocado providing 20-25 grams of total fat.
This added avocado has been shown to increase carotenoid absorption from all of the foods listed above. Anywhere from 2-6 as much absorption was found to occur with the added avocado! But in addition to this increased absorption was a much less anticipated result in a recent study: not only did avocado improve carotenoid absorption, but it also improved conversion of specific carotenoids (most importantly, beta-carotene) into active vitamin A. This unexpected health benefit of increased conversion was determined by the measurement of retinyl esters in the bloodstream of participants, which were found to increase after consumption of carrots or tomato sauce in combination with avocado.
How To Peel Avocado To Get Maximum Benefits
The method you use to peel an avocado may make a difference to your health. Research on avocado shows that the greatest phytonutrient concentrations occur in portions of the food that we do not typically eat, namely, the peel and the seed (or “pit.”) The pulp of the avocado is actually much lower in phytonutrients than these other portions of the food. However, while lower in their overall phytonutrient richness, all portions of the pulp are not identical in their phytonutrient concentrations and the areas of the pulp that are closest to the peel are higher in certain phytonutrients than the interior portions of the pulp.
Hence, don’t slice out that outermost, dark green portion of the pulp any more than necessary when you are peeling an avocado. Accordingly, the best method is what the California Avocado Commission has called the “nick and peel” method explained below.
Nick And Peel Method
-Cut the avocado lengthwise, producing two long avocado halves that are still connected in the middle by the seed.
-Hold both halves and twist them in opposite directions until they naturally separate.
-Now remove the seed and cut each of the halves lengthwise to produce long quartered sections of the avocado.
-You can use your thumb and index finger to grip the edge of the skin on each quarter and peel it off, just as you would do with a banana skin.
The final result is a peeled avocado that contains most of that dark green outermost flesh, which provides you with the best possible phytonutrient richness from the pulp portion of the avocado.
Adding Avocado To Other Food
Due to avocado’s high fat and carotenoid content, you get a good absorption of carotenoids. However, if you consume an avocado-free meal or snack that contains very little fat yet rich amounts of carotenoids, some added avocado might go a long way in improving your carotenoid absorption and vitamin A nourishment. Salad greens—including romaine lettuce—and mixed greens like kale, chard, and spinach are great examples of very low fat, carotenoid-rich foods that might be eaten alone but would have more of their carotenoid-richness transferred over into your body with the help of some added avocado.