The Fatty Ingredient That Actually Makes Carrots Healthier

There is a reason that dieticians worldwide recommend you add fruits and veggies to your diet each day. They have so many benefits for your health. Carrots, for instance, are more than just a good source of daily fiber; they have benefits for vision, digestion, and even cancer prevention, according to Medical News Today. Those little orange nutrition bombs fill you up and give you the antioxidants you need to fight free radicals. But they can't do it alone.

Like cheese makes wine tastier, carrots need healthy fat to help them be absorbed in the gut and unlock their true dietary power. Not all vitamins are easily absorbed by the body; and carrots — which are rich in beta-carotene, an excellent source of vitamin A — are one of them.

While your body can absorb some nutrients from carrots alone, pairing them with avocado gives your absorption a considerable boost. Let us tantalize your taste buds by showing you how avocados can make carrots more beneficial for your body. We'll also tell you about other fats you can pair with carrots to boost their benefits when an avocado isn't on the menu.

Avocado improves beta-carotene absorption and conversion

It might seem like a weird pairing, but adding a bit of avocado to your salad or dipping your carrots in your guacamole will give you the most bang for your buck in the vitamin A department. The reason behind this is all those good fats that avocado is harnessing. A 2012 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states, "Dietary fat is required for intestinal absorption of β-carotene and facilitates the incorporation of β-carotene into mixed micelles." So, when you add the fat of the avocado with the carotene goodness, you get better absorption than eating the carrot plain or without fats.

Additionally, 2014 research published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that avocado's fat helps convert beta-carotene to vitamin A by a whopping 12 times. Dr. Steven Schwarz, professor of food science and technology, also noted in an Ohio State University press release, "We are continuing to learn that consuming fat in the diet not only enhances the absorption of carotenoids and fat-soluble nutrients, such as provitamin A beta-carotene but also increases the conversion and delivery of vitamin A." Since many people aren't getting enough vitamin A in their diet, upping your intake by pairing the right foods together is essential.

While avocado is the proven winner in getting the most out of munching carrots, it's not the only fat you can try.

Additional healthy foods to pair with carrots

Avocados are rich in good fats and very good for your health when consumed in moderation, but not everyone can jump on the avocado bandwagon; the texture and flavor can turn some people off. However, that doesn't mean you can't reap the rewards of going for carrots at lunch rather than cookies. In addition to avocados, you can try pairing your veggies with other unsaturated fats like olive oil and sunflower oil, according to research in the Journal of Food Science and Technology.

A study completed by Purdue University and published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research further verified this by showing that subjects who ate dressings rich in unsaturated fats absorbed more of the carotenoids in their salad. Lead author Dr. Mario Ferruzzi stated to Purdue University,  "If you want to utilize more from your fruits and vegetables, you have to pair them correctly with fat-based dressings." 

Beyond just adding a bit of fat-based dressing or olive oil, you might try adding sunflower seeds, walnuts, or other foods rich in unsaturated fats. Adding a few cooked carrots to your fish can help you boost your absorption, too.

Eating carrots and other vegetables can have a huge positive impact on your health. But to get the most out of your healthy eating adventure, you'll want to pair your carrots with a moderate amount of unsaturated fats like avocados. It's tasty and healthy!