The type of fat in avocados does more than help the body absorb beneficial carotenoids. It also helps convert them to vitamin A, a vital function that could cut severe vitamin A deficiencies in the developing world.
So says a recent study by OARDC scientists, which found that the body formed more than 12 times as much vitamin A from carrots — and more than four times as much vitamin A from tomatoes — when eaten together with avocado compared to when eaten alone.
The Journal of Nutrition published the study last August.
“From previous studies, we expected to find an increase in absorption of provitamin A, and we did,” lead author Rachel Kopec said. “But our finding about the conversion to vitamin A is new and pretty significant.”
The body turns provitamin A substances into active vitamin A.
“Our finding about the conversion to vitamin A is new and pretty significant.”—Rachel Kopec
Tastes good, good for you
- Vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem in more than half of all countries, especially developing countries, the World Health Organization says. Vitamin A deficiency raises infection risks and is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children.
- Many countries with widespread vitamin A deficiency, including Mexico and India, have the right climate for growing avocados, Kopec said.
- Kopec worked on the study as part of her Ph.D. research under Steven Schwartz, professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology and holder of the Carl E. Haas Endowed Chair in Food Industries. She now works at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research.
- To contact the scientists: Rachel Kopec at firstname.lastname@example.org; Steven Schwartz at email@example.com.