This much-maligned high-fat avocado might be better for you than you think. Certain good fats help absorb key nutrients important to your health. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Ohio State University researchers reported that avocados, which are high in omega-3 monounsaturated fatty acids, help the body absorb up to 15 times more of a class of protective nutrients called carotenoids the body against heart disease, inflammation, cancer and blindness.
In recent decades, people have been encouraged to eat more vegetables, especially green ones. Many vegetables, especially the red, orange, yellow, and green ones, are high in carotenoids but extremely low in fat. In previous studies, researchers found that a little fat added to salads in the form of salad dressing helped the body absorb more carotenoids, unlike fat-free salad dressing, which hampered absorption somewhat. In this recent study, researchers found that the type of fat, particularly monounsaturated fat, significantly increased carotenoid absorption and even allowed for more efficient conversion to vitamin A in the body.
The study focused on four specific carotenoids – lutein, lycopene, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. In three different aspects of the study, 11 healthy adults were served a salsa containing approximately 24 grams of fat, with or without 2/3 of a cup of avocado.
In another aspect of the study, healthy adults were divided into 4 groups that were served a salad with romaine lettuce, carrots, and spinach, all of which contained carotenoids, in addition to a whole avocado, half an avocado, no avocado, or 24 grams of pure, cold-pressed avocado oil. Subjects were required to remain at the university campus research center for the duration of the study so that their food intake could be monitored and their blood drawn at specified times during the duration of the study. Blood carotene levels were measured over a 10-hour period after subjects ate the test meal.
The researchers found the most profound effects in the group that ate the whole avocado with its salsa. This group consumed nearly 4.5 times more lycopene, which protects against prostate cancer, and 2.5 times more beta-carotene, which protects heart health and reduces cancer risk.
The subjects who ate a whole avocado with their salad absorbed 5 times more lutein, which is an important protector against macular degeneration and cataracts. They also got 7 times more alpha-carotene and 15 times more beta-carotene than those who didn’t have an avocado at all. The group that ate half an avocado with their salad had almost identical results as those that ate the whole avocado. Subjects who had the avocado oil had results similar to those who ate the whole avocado. The study shows that adding monounsaturated fat to a meal of carotenoid-rich vegetables does help their absorption, but researchers don’t know exactly how much fat is needed until further studies are done.
When counting calories, a whole avocado comes out to about 250 calories, while 24 grams of avocado oil has 212 calories. It’s quite a lot of calories at once, but when weighing the benefits of consuming it, adjustments can be made throughout the eating plan to avoid weight gain. Guacomole anyone?
Thanks to E. Jean Perrins | #Good #fats #nutrient #absorption