By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
It's not often you can whip up a homemade version of a medical study and, in this case, deliciously follow the basics of it as participants do. In fact, when food is being scrutinized by researchers, sometimes the cupboards are bare and supplements take their place, or nothing at all in the forms of placebos. Results may not be known for long periods of time after numbers are crunched.
If you like avocados, though, you could do a mini review yourself. For a study funded by the Hass Avocado Board, researchers at Loma Linda University, Penn State, Tufts University and UCLA were looking for 250 people each to eat either an avocado a day or two a month for six months. Researchers wanted to test if the guacamole ingredient promoted reduction in belly fat and weight loss.
Avocados already have been shown to have heart healthy fat that may lower cholesterol. In addition, a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association
found that replacing saturated fats with one avocado a day lowered blood pressure.
It's tempting since, once cut in half, the pear-shaped stone fruit is tasty, creamy and easy to work with by scooping its smooth moist flesh from its shell. Beyond guacamole, avocado toast and smoothies also have become staples on many menus.
Following are some fun ideas if you want to increase your avocado-based meals at home and check your own weight loss or waistline reduction. All ingredients below are to taste. In addition, during your test, consider replacing saturated fat whenever you can with a few slices of avocado flesh. Those participating in the actual study had to be 25 years old or older, measure at least 35 to 40 inches around the waist and couldn't be pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for preparing homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it! Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.
- GIVE GUACAMOLE A LIFT
Replace lemon or lime juice in your favorite guacamole recipe with fresh tangerine juice and, when mashing, add in finely diced spinach, pressed garlic and chopped roasted heirloom tomatoes.
- HUMMUS THAT'S NOT HO-HUM
Stir store-bought or homemade guacamole into store-bought or homemade hummus along with minced roasted red bell peppers and diced pitted black olives.
- A TOAST TO AWESOME AVOCADO TOAST
Top whole-grain toast with slices of avocado flesh, orange marmalade, dash of cayenne pepper, minced cilantro and gently mash atop the toast.
- SMOOTH AS SILK
In the container of a blender strong enough to chop ice, combine spinach, bite-sized chunks of carrots, peeled orange slices, chopped pitted apple, dark chocolate pieces, slices of avocado flesh and ice and blend to desired thickness.
- BETTER BAKING
Replace one-quarter of fat in homemade muffin, cake, brownie and cookie recipes with well-mashed avocado flesh. In addition, blend a small amount of well-mashed avocado flesh into frosting for baked goods.
Inspiration for adding avocados to the diet sets in the moment one looks at the cover of Lara Ferroni's An Avocado a Day: More than 70 Recipes for Enjoying Nature's Favorite Superfood
. The photographer/cook shows the holes left by the pits of halved avocados filled with seafood salad, fruit salad and dip. What an easy idea for entertaining and getting more of the superfood in your diet, if with each bite of filling you get a bit of the fruit's smooth flesh as well. Such easy experimentation shows how well the mild, creamy avocado goes with other flavors. Ferroni's even more sophisticated innovations include: Spinach-Avocado Phyllo Rolls, Tropical Avocado Oatmeal, Avocado Chutney and Avocado Brulee. Lisa Messinger
at Creators Syndicate
is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes
(Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet
(Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.