Avocados have long been thought of as a nutritional powerhouse. But new research may shed light on how much of an impact this potent fruit can have on overall health. Recent findings indicate avocados may do everything from helping increase the absorption of certain nutrients, to improving cholesterol and helping fight against heart disease.

An Ohio State University study found when avocados were consumed along with tomatoes or carrots, the absorption of beta-carotene — an antioxidant that plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin and promoting eye health — from the diet was significantly higher than when eaten alone. Consuming a diet rich in beta-carotene is only beneficial to your health if you can absorb this nutrient. Combining an avocado with foods rich in beta-carotene at meals may help enhance this absorption, helping you to gain the health benefits offered by this nutrient.

Avocados may also reduce blood lipids in overweight and obese individuals, helping to fight heart disease. A recent Pennsylvania State University study found when overweight and obese individuals consumed a moderate fat diet including avocado, they were able to reduce their total cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein levels significantly more than their counterparts who consumed a similar diet without avocado. If you are working to improve heart health, consuming a moderate fat diet with a portion of fat coming from avocado may help you lower your cholesterol levels more effectively than a moderate or low fat diet alone.

As you can see, consuming avocado on a regular basis may offer many health benefits. With avocados being a very versatile food, it’s easy to work them into your meal plan each day:

  • Substitute mayonnaise on bread with mashed avocado
  • Dice and scramble avocado along with eggs for a creamy meal
  • Swap out butter in recipes and replace with mashed avocado (use a 1:1 ratio)
  • Top sandwiches with a slice of fresh avocado rather than a slice of cheese

With a few adjustments, you can start to incorporate an avocado as a regular part of your meal plan. Looking at these promising studies, it’s easy to see why having an avocado a day may just keep the doctor away. Try this delicious recipe:

Avocado Banana Stacks Pancake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 ripe fresh avocado, halved, peeled, pitted and cubed, divided
  • 1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced, divided
  • 1 cup reduced fat milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl mix together all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a blender, combine half of the avocado pieces, half of the banana slices, milk, eggs and vanilla; puree until smooth.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined; batter may be lumpy.
  4. Spray a griddle or skillet with nonstick spray and heat over medium heat.
  5. Pour 1/4 cup of batter for each 4-inch pancake. Cook until bottom is lightly brown and bubbles begin to burst, about 2 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until golden brown. Serve warm with remaining avocados, bananas and syrup or other favorite topping.

Courtesy of Avocado Central
Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN is a nutrition consultant, speaker, spokesperson and avocado advocate who has authored Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, 2 Day Diabetes Diet, and the newly released Walking Off the Weight For Dummies. She specializes in the areas of diabetes and weight management and runs a healthy parenting blog.