With its buttery texture and fresh taste, avocado is a food that is increasingly making its appearance on our tables. Excellent added to salads, delicious as a base for sauces or smoothies, avocado is also a healthy food. In fact, avocado protects the heart by increasing HDL cholesterol, or good cholesterol (Mahmassani et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2018). Not only that, avocado is a source of fiber, increases the sense of satiety, is a precious source of vitamins, such as A, C, group B, K and E, mineral salts, such as magnesium and potassium, and antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin (Dreher et al, Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 2013). And it is thanks to its content in antioxidant substances, such as lutein and vitamin E, that avocado also shows a neuroprotective action, since it helps to counteract the neuronal damage, which is caused by oxidative stress and which would lead to the death of neurons, a condition typical of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's (Ameer et al, Adv Neurobiol, 2016). Finally, eating avocado increases blood lutein values ??and this is linked to an improvement in memory and cognitive functioning (Scott et al, Nutrients, 2017). But how to eat avocado in order to maximize its properties? Let's see the best food combinations to bring avocado to the table and to strengthen brain functions and to protect the heart!
Avocado and salmon, to give to the brain the sprint during the lunch break
The combination given by avocado and salmon is excellent for those who carry out intellectual work, for students and for those who are facing a stressful period, since the intake of good fats of avocado nourishes the nervous system and the nutrients support memory and brain functioning (The nutritional and therapeutic role of foods, Fausto Aufiero). Not only that, as always indicated by Dr. Aufiero, this food combination is a precious source of substances that are beneficial in pregnancy and breastfeeding, for those who lead a very active life and for athletes. Here is the recipe. Chop mixed vegetables, such as salad, onion, carrots and rocket, and put them in a salad bowl. Peel an avocado and cut it into cubes. Add avocado and 50 grams of good quality smoked salmon to the salad. Complete with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half a lemon.
Avocado toast against cholesterol
Harvard University takes the field emphasizing the importance of avocado in the fight against high cholesterol and proposing a simple but healthy recipe, avocado toast. Peel an avocado and remove the pit, put the pulp in a bowl and mash it with a fork, add a teaspoon of the juice of a lime or fresh lemon. Complete with a pinch of sea salt, chili pepper and coriander. Spread on a slice of lightly toasted brown bread. This food combination takes advantage of the properties of avocado, capable of increasing good HDL cholesterol, and those of coriander, which is shown to be capable of reducing bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (Chithra et al, Plant Foods Hum Nutr, 1997). Chili pepper also helps reduce cholesterol, it counteracts obesity, high blood sugar and free radicals (Sanati et al, Iran J Basic Med Sci, 2018).
Avocado smoothie, for a nutritious and antioxidant snack
Here is a complete snack, nutritious and capable of providing valuable antioxidants, which fight free radicals, inflammation and support the immune system thanks to the presence of vitamin C. Peel an avocado and remove the pit. Put the avocado pulp in the blender along with a handful of blueberries, if it's not the season you can use frozen blueberries after thawing them. Blueberries are a source of anthocyanins, fight free radicals, protect the heart and brain (Kalt et al, Adv Nutr, 2020). To these ingredients add a banana, which provides energy, 2 teaspoons of chia seeds, which, in addition to reducing cholesterol, improves the immune response (Ullah et al, J Food Sci Technol, 2016), and half a glass of pomegranate juice, a powerful antioxidant (Zarfeshany et al, Adv Biomed Res, 2014). Blend until you get a creamy and yummy smoothie!