Avocado for mums and bubs
Two new review papers recently published in the journal Nutrients highlight the valuable contribution avocados make to the diets of pregnant and breast feeding women as well as their babies (1,2)Diet during pregnancy influences the development of the foetus, birth outcomes, and breast milk composition. A mother’s diet choices can affect both the early health status and lifelong disease risk of her baby. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables are essential during pregnancy and lactation and avocados are unique among fruits and vegetables in that, by weight, they contain much higher levels of folate. Avocados are also a source of fibre, monounsaturated fats, and fat-soluble colourful carotenoids and antioxidants, which have all been linked to improvements in maternal health, birth outcomes and/or breast milk quality. Avocados are one plant food that should be included in the diets of women before, during and after pregnancy. Australian Health Survey (2011-13) found around 10% of women of child bearing age do not consume enough folate (3). However the ABS used 320microgram as the estimated average requirement for folate (3) which is below the recommended 400microgram of folate for women of child bearing age(4) so it is likely more Australia women are not eating enough folate. Since bread making flour in Australia now has folate added, avocado on toast for breakfast sounds like a good recipe to boost folate for women.
For infants avocado can play a role in the first 1000 days of an infant’s life (from birth to toddlerhood) Introduction of solids occurs when the infant is ready around 4-6 months of age. Avocado is a perfect first food as it has a smooth texture, mild flavour and is loaded with nutrients essential for growth and development. Nutrients such as: folate, vitamin E and lutein - a colourful carotenoids needed for vision, plus monounsaturated fats and fibre. Avocados are naturally low in sugars making them a good alternative flavour to other sweet fruits and may help transition infants to more savoury vegetable flavours. Avocados also help absorb fat soluble nutrients in other foods(2) such as fat soluble beta carotene in pumpkin and sweet potato. How about an interesting green and orange mash for babies?
Australian Health Survey found 2-3 year olds have about 1.5-2 serves of fruit a day and 1-1.5 serves of vegetables. What this means is less than 1% of kids aged 2-3 years are eating the recommended serves of vegetables a day but about 80% of kids are eating enough fruit. Kids aged 2-3 years should be eating 1 serve of fruit and 2.5 serves of vegetables a day.(5,6)
Fascinating research has found that the diet of the mother after pregnancy affects the infant’s diet quality and acceptance of fruits and vegetables.(7)
Including avocado in the diets of infants and toddlers is an easy way to top up fruit and vegetable serves and give them a nutrient boost too but only if mums are eating avocado too.
For more on avocado as baby’s first food click here
- Comerford KB, Ayoob KT, Murray RD, Atkinson SA. The Role of Avocados in Maternal Diets during the Periconceptional Period, Pregnancy, and Lactation. Nutrients. 2016 May 21;8(5). pii: E313. doi: 10.3390/nu8050313. (Free full paper is available here hyperlink http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882725/pdf/nutrients-08-003...)
- Comerford KB, Ayoob KT, Murray RD, Atkinson SA. The Role of Avocados in Complementary and Transitional Feeding. Nutrients. 2016 May 21;8(5). pii: E316. doi: 10.3390/nu8050316. Free full paper is available here hyperlink http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882728/pdf/nutrients-08-003...)
- Ashman AM et al. Maternal diet during early childhood, but not pregnancy, predicts diet quality and fruit and vegetable acceptance in offspring. Matern Child Nutr. 2014 Oct 8. doi: 10.1111/mcn.12151.