I love avocados. Not only do they taste great, they are low in sugar and high in good fats – the kind that actually help the body. And they contain a host of vitamins and minerals, including folate, lutein and potassium. Avocados are also versatile: from guacamole to smoothies to salads and sandwiches, this berry—yes the avocado is a berry—is a great addition to any menu. This versatility extends to their health benefits as well.
According to a study conducted at Pennsylvania State University, an avocado a day can keep the cardiovascular disease (CVD) away, as well as lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at Penn State and co-author of the study, concluded that “including one avocado each day as part of a moderate-fat, cholesterol-lowering diet compared to a comparable moderate-fat diet without an avocado provides additional LDL (low-density lipoproteins) lowering affects, which benefit CVD risk.”
While we eat the smooth green flesh of the avocado and compost the skin and seed (the hard brown pit at the center of the avocado), it turns out that the avocado seeds are actually super nutritious. Here are five ways avocado seeds are good for you.
Additional research at Penn State also found that over 70 percent of the total antioxidant capacity of avocados is found within the seed. Researcher Deepta Dabas, Ph.D., reported that colored avocado seed extract (CASE) was found to have radical scavenging activity and antioxidant activity. The extract also inhibited the growth of human cancer cell lines (lung, colon, breast and prostate) in vitro. This is exciting news, especially when it is combined with research from the University of Waterloo on avocatin B, a fat derived from methanol extracted from avocado seeds. Avocatin B was found effective against acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells.
Pain and Inflammation Fighter
While the seeds of the avocado were used by Mayan and Aztec cultures for both skin problems and infections, we are now only rediscovering their potent health benefits. The antioxidants found in avocado seeds include catechins and procyanidans, both of which are flavonoids with anti-inflammatory properties. They work on pain and swelling and improve joint function, so they are very beneficial to arthritis sufferers. These flavonoids can also improve hearth health and circulation.
Gastrointestinal and Digestive Support
Some health experts mistakenly tout the high level of fiber in avocados. While there is some fiber in the flesh, it is the avocado seed that deserves the credit. It contains more soluble fiber than most fruits and vegetables. Combined with its antioxidant benefits, the seeds are a great dietary addition for gastrointestinal health and improved digestion.
Balance Blood Sugar
All that fiber serves another purpose: it helps regulate blood sugar, which in turn reduces cravings for junk food. When your blood glucose levels remain balanced throughout the day, you are less likely to overeat and gain unwanted and unhealthy weight.
As we age, engage in highly physical activities or exercise, or simply experience too much stress in our lives, our bodies are subjected to increased free radical damage. The most visible signs of free radical damage can be found on our skin. The high levels of antioxidants in avocado seeds help repair the damage caused by free radicals, both on the skin and deep inside our bodies.
Various news sources, web sites and even the avocado lobbyists like the Haas Avocado Board don’t condone eating the seeds, but in the case of the latter, it is more likely for liability reasons than health concerns. If you still have doubts, simply enjoy the wonderfully smooth fresh fruit and wait for more research.
Before you go biting into the seed in the name of health, remember that it is ultra-hard. It is round and slippery so trying to cut it with a sharp knife is not recommended. I prefer hitting it with something hard so that it cracks into two or more pieces and then cutting it into smaller chunks. The dry chunks can also be run through a blender or grain mill to create a flour-like or powdery consistency, which can be added to smoothies or stirred into soups.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds: The 4-Week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier Brain.