- Avocado nutrition content is high and the seed husks are rich in protective compounds
- These may prevent growth of malignant tumours and build-up of fat in arteries
- Could be used in treatments for cancer, heart disease and other illnesses
- Avocado oil is extracted from the seeds, but the husk surrounding it is discarded
Multiple scientific studies have linked avocados with health benefits ranging from anti-ageing to warding off cancer.
But new research suggests we’re eating them all wrong – and throwing out part of it that’s a ‘gold mine’ of powerful protective nutrients.
In the first study of its kind, scientists have discovered that the seed husks – which are usually discarded along with the seed – are rich in medicinal compounds that could prevent the growth of malignant tumours and the build-up of fat inside our arteries.
These could be used to improve treatments for cancer, heart disease and a host of debilitating diseases.
Experts say the least appreciated part of the trendy fruit could soon undergo a ‘trash-to-treasure’ transformation and as well as being used in medicine could enhance cosmetics, perfumes and other consumer goods.
The seed husks of avocados have been found to contain compounds which could treat cancer and heart disease.
The husk is the dry exterior of the seed found inside the fruit which has been found to have medicinal properties.
Dr Debasish Bandyopadhyay, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, said: ‘It could very well be that avocado seed husks, which most people consider as the waste of wastes, are actually the gem of gems because the medicinal compounds within them could eventually be used to treat cancer, heart disease and other conditions.
‘Our results also suggest that the seed husks are a potential source of chemicals used in plastics and other industrial products.’
WHY ARE AVOCADOS CONSIDERED SUPERFOODS?
The trendy green is largely made up of monounsaturated fat, one of the healthiest form of fats.
Half a large avocado contains 180 calories and counts as one of your recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.
Naturally low in salt and containing fibre, they are chock-full of other beneficial nutrients including potassium and vitamin E.
They are also packed with tyrosine, an amino acids which helps the body produce dopamine – known as the brain’s pleasure centre.
A spike of dopamine in the body leads to increased feelings of reward and motivation.
Avocados also contain more folic acid than any other fruit.
The B vitamin is not only especially beneficial to pregnant women, but helps reduce homocysteine, an amino acid linked to anxiety and depression, in the body.
Avocados are also packed with Omega-3, which have long been tied to improving eyesight, heart health and depression.
How the research was carried out
Nearly five million tons of avocados are produced worldwide annually – in most cases, the flesh is eaten and the seed is binned.
Some edible oil manufacturers extract avocado oil from the seeds, but they remove the husk surrounding the seed and discard it before processing.
Avocado nutrition and Key ingredients
Among the constituents in the oil was heptacosane, which might inhibit the growth of tumour cells, according to the team.
It also contains dodecanoic acid, which increases high density lipoprotein (known as HDL) and, as a result, could reduce the risk of atherosclerosis – the build-up of fatty material inside your arteries that can eventually cause life-threatening problems such as heart attacks and strokes.
Additionally, the team found behenyl alcohol – also known as docosanol – an important ingredient used in antiviral medications and treatments to cold sores/fever blisters.
In the wax, the researchers detected a range of compounds including butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), an antioxidant food additive and preservative in cosmetics.
Now Dr Bandyopadhyay says he and his colleagues will modify several of the natural compounds so that they can be used to create better medications with fewer side effects.
The findings were presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, DC.