Combining avocado with certain vegetables doesn't just increase your absorption of carotenoids - it also helps you convert more of them into Vitamin A. Nutrition Diva explains.
One of the very first Nutrition Diva podcast episodes I did, way back in 2008, talked about the fact that adding avocado to a salad (or, dipping your veggies into guacamole) greatly enhances the amount of carotenoids you absorb from the vegetables. Wouldn't you love to have been a subject in that study?
It seemed logical that consuming avocados, which are rich in monounsaturated fat, would enhance the absorption of carotenoids, which are fat-soluble nutrients. But as I learned while attending at this week's Food and Nutrition Conference in Atlanta, there seem to be more benefits to this tasty combination than we first realized.
A more recent study, supported by funds from the Hass Avocado Board, found that adding avocado to carotenoid-rich veggies not only boosts your absorption, but also enhances your body's ability to convert those carotenoids into fully-formed vitamin A - a process which can sometimes be rather ineffecient.
See also: Can We Trust Industry Funded Research?
The study involved combining avocados with a special orange-tomato sauce. The culinary nutritionists at my table immediately started riffing on inventive ways to put this research to delicious use: A slice of avocado in your green smoothie, for example, could help boost the effect of the greens. How about carrot muffins made with avocado instead of oil?
Here are some tips on using avocado to replace other types of fat in your baking.
And here's one I'm going to work on for Thanksgiving: an avocado-enhanced pumpkin pie. Stay tuned for progress reports...
Got an idea for a fresh way to combine avocado with carotenoid-rich fruits or veggies? Post 'em below in Comments or on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page.