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Recipe for Health: Chickpea Pasta with Avocado Cream Sauce

Avocado lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Chickpea Pasta recipe

A guac habit might be good news for the ticker—making the chickpea pasta recipe with avocado sauce below a win!

A 30-year observational study, and notably one without any industry funding, of more than 110,000 health professionals published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that participants who ate at least 2 servings of avocado a week had a 16%–22% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared with those who rarely ate the creamy fruit.

Researchers assessed participants’ diets using food frequency questionnaires provided at the beginning of the study and then every 4 years. One serving equaled half of an avocado (or a half cup of chopped avo).

Replacing animal products like butter, cheese, egg or bacon with avocado was also associated with a statistically significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease events, including heart attack. This was not so when it replaced olive oil, nuts and other plant oils.

The impressive nutritional résumé of avocado—which includes monounsaturated fat, fiber, antioxidants and a range of micronutrients including folate—is a likely reason it can have a positive impact on heart functioning despite being calorie-dense. That makes this creamy chickpea pasta recipe so much more comforting.

1/2 lb uncooked whole-grain fusilli or rotini pasta

1 avocado, peeled and pitted

1/2 C fresh basil

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 t chili powder

2 t olive oil

2 C cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 C chopped shallots

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 C cooked or canned chickpeas

4 C spinach, trimmed of tough ends

In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, prepare pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 C cooking liquid, then drain remainder. In a blender or food processor, purée together avocado, 1/4 C reserved pasta water, basil, lemon juice, chili powder and a couple of pinches of salt. Add extra pasta water if needed to reach a creamy consistency. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tomatoes, shallots and garlic; heat until tomatoes start to shrivel. Add spinach; heat just until greens wilt slightly. Stir in pasta, chickpeas and avocado sauce; warm through. Makes 4 servings.

See also: Avocados for Gut Health

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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