Avocados and bananas go together like peanut butter and jelly---or for those of us enmeshed in the paleo-sphere, like bacon and dates (let's be real...like bacon and everything). So much so that avocado-banana mash is often recommended as one of baby's first foods.
This Key Lime Avocado-Banana Pudding recipe is a creamy, decadent, nutrient-dense dessert or mousse made with two magnesium- and potassium-rich fruits. I adapted the recipe from nutritionist Natalija Clark, who you can find at www.nclarknutrition.com and on Instagram at the account @nclark.nutrition.
But first...can I get a hallelujah that the low fat dietary dogma of decades past has finally been ditched and debunked? It's just plain silly to think that back in high school, my mom was warning me to limit consumption of avocados, my favorite fruit, because it was 'fattening'. In sharp contrast to this antiquated nutrition lore of decades past, studies indicate that indulging in an avocado a day or so can keep the doctor away.
We all know by now that healthy fat, like the monounsaturated fatty acids oleic and palmitic acids found in avocado, does not make you fat (Vekiari et al., 2004). Rather, one of the MUFAs in avocado, oleic acid, has been shown to significantly reduce oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, and production of reactive oxygen species---all of which contribute to obesity (Ortiz-Avila et al., 2015b). Likewise, oleic acid significantly reduces cholesterol and triglycerides, levels of which are correlated with visceral adiposity (the notorious beer belly) and metabolic syndrome, the precursor to heart disease (Ortiz-Avila et al., 2015b).
Moreover, one pilot study out of UCLA demonstrated that eating one-half of a fresh medium Hass avocado with a 90 percent lean beef hamburger significantly inhibited the production of the inflammatory cell signaling compound, interleukin-6 (IL-6) in comparison to consuming the burger alone (Li et al., 2013). IL-6, an intercellular cytokine which mediates inflammation, has been found to be elevated in autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, and mood disorders such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety.
Furthermore, differences in peripheral arterial blood flow, a predictor of vascular health, between the hamburger group and the hamburger-avocado group approached statistical significance (Li et al., 2013). Whereas eating a plain burger reduced blood flow by approximately 27%, on average, participants who ate the hamburger with avocado only exhibited a 4% reduction in blood flow (Li et al., 2013).
What's more, in a rodent model where rats were fed one of 22 fruits and then administered D-galactosamine, a potent hepatotoxin that disrupts liver function and results in aberrant cell death, avocados inhibited liver damage to a greater degree than the other 22 fruits tested (Kawagishi et al., 2001). The study authors articulate: "As measured by changes in the levels of plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST), avocado showed extraordinarily potent liver injury suppressing activity" (Kawagishi et al., 2001).
Lastly, avocados have been proven to reduce a cluster of risk factors that predispose an individual to metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, hypertension, obesity, stroke, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and cardiovascular disease (Tabeshpour, Razavi, & Hosseinzadeh, 2017). In other words, they have been demonstrated to have cardioprotective, lipid-lowering, antithrombotic, antihypertensive, antidiabetic, anti-obesity, and antiatherosclerotic properties (Tabeshpour, Razavi, & Hosseinzadeh, 2017). Thus, avocados are ideal for management of coronary heart disease, the number one killer worldwide, and the aforementioned conditions that emanate from a common denominator of insulin resistance.
In fact, one randomized crossover study revealed that consumption of a high monounsaturated fatty acids diet (including oleic acid from avocado and olive oil) by subjects with type 2 diabetes resulted in superior glucose control compared to those eating a high-complex carbohydrate diet (Lerman-Garber et al., 1994). Further, consumption of an avocado at lunch has been shown to attenuate the post-prandial increase in blood insulin and result in better satiety compared to the avocado-free control group (Wien et al., 2013).
In addition, active constituents within avocado, such as tocopherols, lutein, and other carotenoids such as beta-crytoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and alpha carotene have been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth (Lu, Zhang, & Wang, 2009).
Lastly, avocado has been demonstrated to have a variety of other benefits. This superfood fruit possesses antioxidant, antiosteoarthritis, chemoprotective (anti-cancer), anticonvulsant, antimicrobial, antilithiasis, antimycobacterial, antifungal, and antiprotozoal qualities (Nagaraj, Sandhya, & Spuriya, 2010; Christiansen, Bhatti, Goudarzi, & Emami, 2015; Ojewele & Amabeoku, 2006; Pradeep et al., 2012; Jiminez-Arellanes et al., 2013; Wientarsih, Madyastuti, Prasetyo, & Aldobrata, 2012; Lu et al., 2005)
In addition to the phytochemicals already mentioned, avocados are rich in the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E, as well as B vitamins, potassium, and other bioactive components such as carotenoids, flavonoids, phenolics, saponins, polyphenols, chlorophylls, and phytosterols (Tabeshpour, Razavi, & Hosseinzadeh, 2017).
So, to sum it up---don't feel guilty if, like me, you have an expensive avocado habit (those little buggers can be pricey). Avocados are one of the safest commercial crops in terms of pesticide exposure, so you don't need to spend the extra money to buy them organic, and they also have been demonstrated to elicit a plethora of health benefits in the scientific literature---so eat 'em up!
Christiansen, B.A., Bhatti, S., Goudarzi, R., & Emami, S. (2015). Management of osteoarthritis with avocado/soybean unsaponifiables. Cartilage, 6, 30–44.
Jiménez-Arellanes, A., Luna-Herrera, J., Ruiz-Nicolás, R., Cornejo-Garrido, J., Tapia, A., & Yépez-Mulia, L. (2013). Antiprotozoal and antimycobacterial activities of Persea americana seeds. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 13, 1–5.
Kawagishi, H., Fukumoto, Y., Hatakeyama, M., He, P., Arimoto, H., Matsuzawa, T., Arimoto, Y.,...Sugiyama, K. (2001). Liver injury suppressing compounds from avocado (Persea americana). Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 49(5), 2215-2221.
Lerman-Garber, I., Ichazo-Cerro, S., Zamora-González, J., Cardoso-Saldaña, G., & Posadas-Romero, C. (1994). Effect of a high-monounsaturated fat diet enriched with avocado in NIDDM patients. Diabetes Care, 17, 311.
Li, Z., Wong, A., Henning, S.M., Zhang, Y., Jones, A., Zerlin, A.,...Heber, D. (2013). Hass avocado modulates postprandial vascular reactivity and postprandial inflammatory responses to a hamburger meal in healthy volunteers. Food Functions, 4(3), 384-391.
Lu, Q-Y., Zhang, Y., Wang, Y., et al. (2009). California hass avocado: profiling of carotenoids, tocopherol, fatty acid, and fat content during maturation and from different growing areas. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 57, 10408–10413.
Nagaraj, M., Sandhya, V., Supriya, G., et al. (2010). Antioxidant and antibacterial activity of avocado (Persea gratissima Gaertner) seed extract. World Applications in Science Journal, 9, 695–698.
Ojewole, J.A., & Amabeoku, G.J. (2006). Anticonvulsant effect of Persea americana Mill (Lauraceae) (Avocado) leaf aqueous extract in mice. Phytotherapy Research, 20, 696–700.
Ortiz-Avila, O., Esquivel-Martinez, M., Olmos-Orizaba, B.E., Saavedra-Molina, A., Rodriguez-Orozco, A.R., & Cortes-Rojo, C. (2015a). Avocado oil improves mitochondrial function and decreases oxidative stress in brain of diabetic rats. Journal of Diabetes Research, 1–9.
Pradeep G, Naresh A, Reddy GN, Reddy VR, Kotaiah S. 2012. Anti-microbial and anti-diabetic activity of Prosopis chilensis extract against alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Int J Res Pharm Nanosci 1: 139–146.
Tabeshpour, J., Razavi, B.M., & Hosseinzadeh, H. (2017). Effects of Avocado (Persea americana) on Metabolic Syndrome: A Comprehensive Systematic Review. Phytotherapy Research, [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5805.
Vekiari, S.A., Papadopoulou, P.P., Lionakis, S., & Krystallis, A. (2004). Variation in the composition of Cretan avocado cultivars during ripening. Journal of Science and Food Agriculture, 84, 485–492.
Wien, M., Haddad, E., Oda, K., Sabaté, J. (2013). A randomized 3x3 crossover study to evaluate the effect of Hass avocado intake on post-ingestive satiety, glucose and insulin levels, and subsequent energy intake in overweight adults. Journal of Nutrition, 12, 1.
Wientarsih, I., Madyastuti, R., Prasetyo, B.F., & Aldobrata, A. (2012). Anti-lithiasis activity of avocado (Persea americana Mill) Leaves Extract in White Male Rats. HAYATI Journal of Bioscience, 19, 49–52.
2 ripe bananas
1 large avocado
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 lime, juiced
1 cup unsweetened Kite Hill almond yogurt (can substitute with coconut yogurt)
Optional Toppings - unsweetened dried cranberries, diced fresh strawberries, blueberries, and crumbled Key Lime Lara Bar (can substitute with chopped nuts, chia or flax seeds, hemp hearts, puffed quinoa, etc.)
1) Mix bananas, avocado, yogurt, lemon juice, and honey in a food processor.
2) Enjoy with your favorite toppings (serves 2).