If you’re like me your relationship with avocados goes something like this: buy them, wait for them to ripen, forget about them, then, when you want to use them, they aren’t any good. Sound familiar?! There really is a fine line between unripe and overripe when it comes to avocados 🥑!
But we really do need to work these little green gems into our daily food intake, especially if you’re approaching middle age. Why? Well, according to a study done at Tuft University, avocados are very high in lutein, a plant nutrient that keeps our brain healthy.
Lutein a member of the carotenoid family of phytonutrients, is closely related to vitamin A and beta-carotene. Lutein is often connected with another carotenoid called zeaxanthin in relation to eye health, but it’s benefits go beyond the eye.
- Reduced risk of vision disorders
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Improved cognitive health
- lowers inflammation
- weight control
Back to the Tuft University study. Researchers recruited 40 healthy individuals age 50 and over, and tested the lutein content in their brain. Scientists had half the test subjects eat one avocado per day for 6 months, while the control group ate either one potato or one cup of chickpeas per day. Potatoes and chickpeas have very low lutein levels. Both groups kept all other aspects of their diets the same.
At the end of 6 months, the avocado group had a 25% increase in lutein levels, versus no increase in the control group. Other improvements seen in the avocado group include: significantly improved memory and problem solving skills. The study was led by Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, a professor of nutrition at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. She said:
“Eating one avocado a day is particularly effective at enriching neural lutein levels. A balanced diet that includes fresh avocados may be an effective strategy for cognitive health.”
Other foods high in lutein include:
If you’re like me, you always mean to eat more avocados, but they ripen so quickly. It seems one day they’re unripe, then the next, they’re over ripe. Well, when I began receiving avocaods in my produce delivery every week, I knew I needed to solve this problem, and preserve them until I could throw them in my smoothies. That’s when I started to freeze them.
I cut each half into 1/8’s, place them on a parchment covered tray in a single layer and place them in the freezer for a few hours. After they’re frozen, you can put them in a ziplock bag.
FYI, this is for use in smoothies. 2 pieces are 1/8 of an avocado. I haven’t yet used them to make guacamole. If I do, I’ll let you know how it goes. For now, I throw a couple of pieces in every smoothie I make. Best of all, I’m not throwing away past ripe avocados any more!