Study: Regular consumption of avocados found to improve brain performance
05/11/2022 / By Rose Lidell / Comments
Study: Regular consumption of avocados found to improve brain performance

Avocado reigns supreme among other superfruits, thanks to its amazing health benefits and impressive nutrient profile. According to a recent study, consuming avocados regularly can also help overweight or obese adults improve their ability to focus.

Avocados are full of lutein, a dietary component linked to cognitive benefits. The benefits of avocado consumption have been previously studied in older adults and children.

However, no randomized controlled trials have looked at the cognitive effects of avocados in overweight or obese adults, even though at least 70 percent of the American adult population belong to that category, explained Caitlyn Edwards, a graduate student and the first author of the study.

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Naiman Khan, a kinesiology and community health professor who led the study, explained that earlier research suggest overweight and obese people are at high risk of cognitive decline and dementia in old age. For the study, Khan and colleagues investigated whether dietary approaches can offer cognitive benefits, especially in midlife.

Avocados, lutein and cognitive performance

The researchers provided 12 weeks of daily meals to 84 overweight or obese adults. All the meals were identical in calories and macronutrients, but one group’s meals included a fresh avocado every day.

At the beginning and end of the study, the volunteers were told to complete three cognitive tests to measure attention and inhibition. The researchers also measured the participants’ blood and retinal lutein levels, the latter of which is associated with lutein concentration in the brain.

The results showed that the volunteers who regularly consumed avocados improved their performance on the Flanker task. This cognitive test measures attentional inhibition or a person’s ability to maintain focus on the task at hand even while being distracted.

Khan explained that the nutrients in avocados have a specific action in the brain that supports attention and focus. They might also be more beneficial for certain cognitive abilities over others, he added.

There’s also the chance that other effects could be observed in a longer study or different tests. Data from other studies have found broader effects in other populations, and the findings of this study shed light on the specific effects of avocado consumption in overweight or obese adults.

The researchers also reported that even though the volunteers who consumed avocados had higher levels of lutein at the end of the study, the changes in lutein levels were not correlated with the recorded cognitive changes.

Avocados are also full of fiber and monounsaturated fats. Edwards suggested that these other nutrients may be linked to the cognitive effects observed in the study.

Healthy avocado recipes to try

Avocados should be part of a balanced diet if you want to boost your brain and overall health. Here are some tasty avocado recipes to try:

Egg and avocado toast

Start with this simple recipe for breakfast egg and avocado toast.

Ingredients for 2 servings:

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 thick slices multigrain toast
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, flaky if possible

Preparation:

  1. Toast the bread slices.
  2. Cut, pit and remove the avocado from its peel.
  3. Use a fork to mash the avocado in a small bowl until you reach your preferred texture. Mix in the lemon juice as you mash. You can also use a mortar and pestle instead of a fork.
  4. Divide the avocado mixture between the two slices of toast.
  5. Drizzle olive oil over the top of each slice of bread and add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and salt to each piece before serving.

Avocado, tomato, and mozzarella caprese salad

This recipe combines avocado, tomato and mozzarella to make a delicious caprese salad.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Sea salt or kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  1. Use a small knife to cut the little stem end out of the tomatoes.
  2. Use a serrated knife to cut the tomatoes into 1/3 inch slices.
  3. Slice the mozzarella about 1/4 inch thick.
  4. Alternate slices of avocado, tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. Arrange the ingredients like playing cards on all four serving plates.
  5. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top of the sliced ingredients.
  6. Season the salad lightly with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
  7. Serve the caprese salad with Italian bread or a fresh baguette. You can also serve the salad over a bed of romaine lettuce or Boston lettuce leaves if you want more of a salad and less of an appetizer.

Vegetarian portobello mushroom and avocado burger

Try this recipe if you’re craving a vegetarian burger that doesn’t skimp on flavor and nutrients.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 4 medium portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • 4 hamburger buns, lightly toasted
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 4 jarred roasted red peppers (Optional)
  • Lettuce (Optional)
  • Tomato slices (Optional)

Preparation:

  1. Lightly brush the individual mushrooms and onion slices with olive oil on both sides.
  2. Sprinkle the mushroom and onion slices with half a teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Set the remaining salt and pepper aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium heat until hot. Add the lightly oiled portobello mushrooms and cook them for eight to 10 minutes or until fully tender. Turn once.
  4. Once the mushrooms are fully cooked, transfer them to a plate, cavity-side up. Cover the mushrooms lightly with a paper towel or a kitchen cloth to keep them warm.
  5. In the same skillet or grill pan, cook the onion slices for at least eight minutes or until lightly golden brown on both sides. Turn occasionally.
  6. While the onions are cooking, prepare the avocado and yogurt sauce. Get a small bowl and combine half of the avocado, yogurt, minced garlic and the remaining salt and black pepper. Use a fork to mash everything together until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  7. Assemble the portobello burgers. Spoon the onions and the optional roasted red peppers into the grilled mushroom cavities. Divide equally.
  8. Spread the smooth avocado mixture on the bottom of each bun and top each with the stuffed mushrooms. Top each burger with the remaining sliced avocado and any additional veggie burger fixings of your choice.

Boost your brain health by incorporating nutritious avocados into your regular diet.

Sources:

ScienceDaily.com

TheSpruceEats.com 1

TheSpruceEats.com 2

TheSpruceEats.com 3

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