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The food pairing that will help you absorb more nutrients

Kristen Fischer is a writer living at the Jersey Shore. In addition to writing for SheKnows, she has penned articles for Prevention, Health, Woman's Day, BELLA, and New Jersey Monthly. Kristen enjoys spending time with her family, friend...

Avocado combos boost benefits of vitamin A

A new study shows that two veggies work well when paired with an avocado to get even more nutritional benefits.

Want to get more vitamin A in your diet? You should. It is vital for reproductive health, growth, healthy skin, immunity and vision. It also acts as an antioxidant — and we all need those. Good news: Eating avocados in combination with other veggies could help you get your fix.

A new study in The Journal of Nutrition finds that eating a whole, fresh avocado with an orange-colored tomato sauce or with raw carrots boosts the absorption of provitamin A carotenoid (alpha- and beta-carotene) and converts it into an active form of vitamin A. (Provitamin A alone is an inactive form of vitamin A.)

The research was conducted at Ohio State University and supported by the Hass Avocado Board (HAB). Scientists involved wanted to know if avocados could be the key to help people’s bodies better absorb vitamin A from carotene-rich foods when eaten together.

There were two randomized, two-way crossover feeding studies in 12 men and women. The first study looked at eating a beta-carotene tomato sauce to see if eating 150 grams of an avocado would promote the absorption of provitamin A carotenoids, and the conversion of them to an active form of vitamin A. The avocado more than doubled beta-carotene absorption (2.4 times), and more than quadrupled the conversion of vitamin A (4.6 times).

The second study evaluated the same thing, but involved eating raw carrots instead of the sauce — and it got even better results. In doing so, it boosted beta-carotene absorption 6.6 times, more than quadrupled alpha-carotene absorption to 4.8 times and increased the conversion to vitamin A by 12.6 times.

In a previous study, Steven Schwartz, Ph.D., who is the Carl E. Haas endowed chair and professor at Ohio State University, found similar results when he tested this with half an avocado.

"Pairing certain foods together is more than just about taste — specific foods eaten together can help your body utilize the benefits more effectively," said Nikki A. Ford, Ph.D., the director of nutrition at HAB. She said that more studies are needed to see if this will work in everyone.

In the meantime, it’s just another reason to pass the guac — perhaps, this time, with some shredded carrots mashed into it.

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