Surprising Benefits Of Avocado Seed

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Health Benefits Of Avocado Seed

Avocado seed decoctions are popular in South American cultures to treat diabetes, diarrhea, kidney stones, and even snakebite. Add the antioxidant-rich dried seed powder to your smoothie to lower BP and cholesterol, control diabetes, and protect kidney and liver tissues. Start with 1/2 tsp and limit daily consumption to half a seed. Apply the seed paste on your skin to prevent UV damage and to cure fungal infections.

You know that avocados are a superfood and work wonders against ailments like diabetes and cardiovascular and liver diseases.1 What about the seed? Until a Facebook post showing ways to eat the nutritious avocado seed went viral, you were probably throwing the seed away or at best planting it in your garden. But it indeed has a high amount of nutrients and a lot of benefits. Here’s the list of proven health benefits of avocado seed.

1. It Can Lower Cholesterol Levels

Unlike other fruits, avocado contains large amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) or good fats, which keep your cholesterol levels from rising even after eating such a fatty fruit.

An animal study in the World Journal of Dairy and Food Sciences, however, finds that the avocado seed has more effect in lowering the lipid profiles in blood and liver than the fruit pulp itself,2 thanks to its beta-sitosterol, a plant steroid alcohol, and tocopherol, an antioxidant.3

The avocado seed contains more antioxidants than the fruit’s flesh and is more effective in lowering cholesterol.

While beta-sitosterol helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels by interfering with cholesterol absorption into the blood, tocopherols mop up free radicals that aid in fat deposition in the arteries and lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases.

2. It Can Lower Blood Pressure

When taken in the right dose, avocado seed extract can lower blood pressure.

Another study on hypertensive rats found that aqueous avocado seed extract can reduce blood pressure by reducing the total cholesterol levels, LDLs, and the triglycerol levels, and increasing the HDLs or the “good cholesterol.” But the helpful effect of the seed extract is dose dependent as a high concentration of antioxidants in the seed can cause hypothyroidism, which in turn increases the cholesterol levels.4 

3. It Has Anti-Diabetic Effects

An animal study found that the aqueous extract of avocado seeds contains elements like calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, and chromium.5These elements regulate key enzymes involved in the formation of glucose and help the body use existing glucose better, thus fighting diabetes.

The seed also contains other glucose-lowering antioxidant agents like flavonoids, saponins, steroids, tannins, and alkaloids.

Avocado seed extract can lower diabetes and protect liver, pancreatic, and kidney tissues.

The study suggested that the seed extract should be taken orally for a prolonged period of time to manage diabetes. This is in line with the traditional use of the seed in South American cultures. Another study validated the use of hot-water extract of avocado seeds in folk medicine to manage diabetes and even protect liver, pancreatic, and kidney tissues.6

4. It Treats Fungal And Bacterial Infections

Traditionally, avocado seed has been used in its countries of origin as a treatment for parasitic and fungal infections. Modern research attributes this to the various natural antifungal plant chemicals like phytosterols, triterpenes, fatty acids, furanoic acids, and flavonol dimers in it.7

Avocado seed extract can be as potent as or even more so than a standard dose of streptomycin when it comes to treating certain fungal and bacterial infections.

A study also compared the potency of avocado seed extract on disease-causing fungi and bacteria (including those causing typhoid, gonorrhea, and pneumonia) with a standard 30 mcg dose of streptomycin, a common antibiotic medicine. In a few cases, avocado seed extract (depending on the medium of the extract) surpassed streptomycin, thanks to these plant chemicals.8

5. It Keeps Skin Diseases Away

Avocado seed extracts have also been found to reverse or manage the skin damage and inflammation caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Its unique lipid molecules and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFA) are responsible for stopping a condition that could lead to skin cancer by DNA damage.9

Avocado seed extract can prevent skin damage caused by UV rays.

As far back as 1989, the United States had patented an oil-based composition made from grated avocado seed, sulfur, castor oil, cod liver oil, peppermint spirit, orange water, and camphor for the treatment of dry scalp and dry skin conditions. The mixture was to be applied on the affected area for a substantial period of time and then shampooed or washed off for best results.10

Having discussed the benefits, let’s now address the topic of a raging debate: should you at all have avocado seed? Isn’t it supposed to be poisonous?

Should You Have Avocado Seeds?

The California Avocado Commission claims that avocado seed contains elements unintended for human consumption.11One of the elements referred to is probably persin, which indeed makes avocado toxic to certain animals, but not to human beings. The seed also contains certain chemicals that can break down into cyanide, which is harmful, but the amount is too low to cause any damage.

It’s Not Toxic Unless You Overdose

A 2013 study finds that the seed can be toxic when eaten in large amounts – large being the operative word here – but doesn’t cause any genetic damage. The researchers also go on to say that they hope the seed and its extracts could be used in food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical material.12

Another study recommends that you should have it to lower your cholesterol and gain benefits from the antioxidants which are present in higher quantities in the seed than in the fruit flesh.13

Let’s not dismiss eating avocado seed as a passing fad, though.

Traditional Medicine Uses Avocado Seed

In the countries where avocado originated, that is in the South Americas, avocado seed has been traditionally consumed for its medicinal properties.

To Treat Diabetes, Diarrhea, And Even Snakebite

The decoction of the seed has been, and still is, used for as varied purposes as treating dysentry, diarrhea, whitlow,14fungal or parasitic infections, diabetes, and snakebite. Also known to function as a diuretic, it can eliminate uric acid and treat kidney stones. It is anti-inflammatory for the liver, anti-anemic, and can strengthen weak muscles.

The Mayans too used the seed decoction to treat bladder problems and diabetes and the grated seed as a condiment in their cooking sauces.15Herbalists in Nigeria recommend mixing the seed powder into soups and puddings to treat hypertension.

To Treat Aches And Pains

Because the seed has a local anesthetic,16anti-inflammatory, and rubefacient (something that increases blood circulation) effect, its paste is used to lower muscle pain and even treat arthritis. In folk medicine, the seed or its decoction is also placed in the tooth cavity to cure toothache.

To Ensure Safe Contraception

Some South American cultures like the Quechua and the Siyona-Secoya also use the seed decoction as a contraceptive or to stop menstruation.17It is safe to use as it does not cause permanent sterility. The decoction is made by boiling the seed in 4–5 cups of water for 15 mins till it turns bright red. It is then had during menstruation. In Cali, Colombia, the seed tea was used to bring on menstruation.18

To Treat Skin And Hair Problems

The seed powder is often used to cure dandruff and the seed oil is used to treat skin eruptions.19An ointment made from the powdered seed has also been traditionally applied to function as a rouge-like cosmetic because of its rubefacient property.20

Modern science has been able to back up most of these folk uses through animal studies and in vitro studies using avocado seed extracts. From anecdotal evidence, we see that the benefits are many and the risks few, which potentially include stomach upset and allergic reaction.

If you have latex allergy, do stay away from both the fruit and the seed. And to avoid stomach problems, start with a small dose of this bitter seed, say half a teaspoon. In fact, half the seed should be your maximum daily limit, anyway. High doses might also have an abortive action.

How To Eat Avocado Seed

  • Dry it or dehydrate it in the microwave oven and grind it into a powder. Mix it into smoothies or use as garnish for salads.
  • Dry it and grind it and mix with mashed banana, avocado pulp, and olive oil to make a quick DIY face-exfoliating mask.
  • Put chunks of the seed in a tea infuser and pour boiling water over it. To mask the bitter taste of the seed, add honey or other natural sweeteners.
  • Boil grated avocado seed in water. Let it cool. Strain it and mix it to a small portion of your regular shampoo for soft, thick hair. The saponins in it have soap-like function.

So, go on and incorporate this seed in your diet and beauty kit, but take care not to overdo it and reverse its many beneficial effects.

References   [ + ]

1. Carvajal-Zarrabal, Octavio, Cirilo Nolasco-Hipolito, M.; Guadalupe Aguilar-Uscanga, Guadalupe Melo-Santiesteban, Patricia M. Hayward-Jones, and Dulce M. Barradas-Dermitz. “Avocado oil supplementation modifies cardiovascular risk profile markers in a rat model of sucrose-induced metabolic changes.” Disease markers 2014 (2014).
2, 13. Shehata, M. M. S. M., and Sahar SA Soltan. “Effects of Bioactive Component of Kiwi Fruit and Avocado (Fruit and Seed) on Hypercholesterolemic Rats.” World Journal of Dairy & Food Sciences 8, no. 1 (2013): 82-93.
3, 4. Imafidon, K. E., and F. C. Amaechina. “Effects of aqueous seed extract of Persea americana Mill.(avocado) on blood pressure and lipid profile in hypertensive rats.” Adv Biol Res 4, no. 2 (2010): 116-121.
5. Alhassan, A. J., M. S. Sule, M. K. Atiku, A. M. Wudil, H. Abubakar, and S. A. Mohammed. “Effects of aqueous avocado pear (Persea americana) seed extract on alloxan induced diabetes rats.” Greener Journal of Medical Sciences 2, no. 1 (2012): 5-11.
6. Ezejiofor, Anthonet Ndidi, Abednego Okorie, and Orish Ebere Orisakwe. “Hypoglycaemic and tissue-protective effects of the aqueous extract of Persea americana seeds on alloxan-induced albino rats.” (2013).
7. Leite, João Jaime Giffoni, Érika Helena Salles Brito, Rossana Aguiar Cordeiro, Raimunda Sâmia Nogueira Brilhante, José Júlio Costa Sidrim, Luciana Medeiros Bertini, Selene Maia de Morais, and Marcos Fábio Gadelha Rocha. “Chemical composition, toxicity and larvicidal and antifungal activities of Persea americana (avocado) seed extracts.” Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical 42, no. 2 (2009): 110-113.
8. Idris, S., G. Ndukwe, and C. Gimba. “Preliminary phytochemical screening and antimicrobial activity of seed extracts of Persea americana (avocado pear).” Bayero Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences 2, no. 1 (2009): 173-176.
9. Rosenblat, Gennady, Shai Meretski, Joseph Segal, Mark Tarshis, Avi Schroeder, Alexandra Zanin-Zhorov, Gilead Lion, Arieh Ingber, and Malka Hochberg. “Polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols derived from avocado suppress inflammatory response and provide non-sunscreen protection against UV-induced damage in skin cells.” Archives of dermatological research 303, no. 4 (2011): 239-246.
10. Ruiseco, Mario G. “Oil based scalp treatment composition.” U.S. Patent 4,849,214, issued July 18, 1989.
11. Is It Safe to Eat the Avocado Seed? Calfornia Avocado Commission.
12. Padilla-Camberos, Eduardo, Moisés Martínez-Velázquez, José Miguel Flores-Fernández, and Socorro Villanueva-Rodríguez. “Acute toxicity and genotoxic activity of avocado seed extract (Persea americana Mill., cv Hass).” The Scientific World Journal 2013 (2013).
14. Hatfield, Gabrielle. Encyclopedia of folk medicine: old world and new world traditions. ABC-CLIO, 2004.
15. Kunow, Marianna Appel. Maya Medicine: traditional healing in Yucatan. UNM Press, 2003.
16. del Refugio Ramos-Jerz, María. Phytochemical analysis of avocado seeds (Persea americana Mill., cv Hass). Cuvillier Verlag, 2007.
17. Duke, James A., and Rodolfo Vasquez. Amazonian ethnobotanical dictionary. CRC press, 1994.
18. De Gezelle, Jillian. Q’eqchi’Maya Reproductive Ethnomedicine. Springer, 2014.
19. Dabas, Deepti, Rachel M Shegog, Gregory R Ziegler, and Joshua D Lambert. “Avocado (Persea americana) seed as a source of bioactive phytochemicals.” Current pharmaceutical design 19, no. 34 (2013): 6133-6140.
20. Morton, Julia Frances. Fruits of warm climates. JF Morton, 1987.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.