RVINE, Calif., Aug 2, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- New research from Ohio State University shows that avocados act as a "nutrient booster," allowing the body to significantly absorb more heart-healthy and cancer-fighting nutrients like alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and lycopene found in fruits and vegetables.
The new research builds on Iowa State findings published in this month's issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," which shows that adding full-fat dressing to salad increases carotenoid absorption. Processed salad dressings often include saturated fats, gums and preservatives. However, avocados provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids along with beneficial antioxidants and phytonutrients like Vitamin E, lutein, fiber and magnesium, making them a healthier alternative to many salad dressings.
Dr. Steven Schwartz from Ohio State University participated in research for both studies. According to Schwartz: "Many fruits and vegetables are rich in beneficial carotenoids, but most fruits and vegetables are virtually fat free, which may limit the body's ability to absorb some of these nutrients. Our latest research shows that the natural fat content in avocados increases carotenoid absorption, which offers nutritional advantages over other sources of fat like salad dressings."
Dr. David Heber, Professor of Medicine at the UCLA School of Medicine and author of "What Color Is Your Diet?," concurs with Dr. Schwartz. "While it is well known that fats help in the absorption of colorful compounds that are good for you such as lycopene from tomatoes and lutein from dark greens, the good fats from olives and avocados are better for you than many processed salad dressings made with hydrogenated vegetable oils."
In the Ohio State Study, adult men and women consumed salads and salsa with and without fresh avocado. The subjects who consumed a lettuce, carrot and spinach salad containing 75g of avocado (equivalent to 2.5 tablespoons) absorbed 8.3 times more alpha-carotene and 13.6 times more beta-carotene, both of which help protect against cancer and heart disease. The subjects also absorbed 4.3 times more lutein, which contributes to eye health and protects against macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the elderly.
The subjects who consumed salsa with 150g of avocado absorbed 4.4 times more lycopene, which has been linked to prostate cancer protection, while absorption of beta-carotene doubled.
The findings were recently presented at the Institute of Food Technologies Conference, July 12-14, in Las Vegas, and are being submitted for publication in a scientific journal.
Ounce-per-ounce, avocados rank highest in monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, folate, potassium, magnesium, lutein, beta-sitosterol and glutathione, compared to other commonly eaten fruits. According to the Food and Drug Administration, diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other chronic diseases. California avocados are a part of the National Cancer Institute's National 5 A Day program. For more nutrition information, please visit www.avocado.org.