Avocados are Antioxidant and Anticancer
Science is now confirming that avocado fights cancer and free radicals. Avocados are serious antioxidants. This in addition to the incredible array of health properties of the humble avocado.
Study shows antioxidant fats
Research from the School of Medicine of Mexico’s Monterey College of Technology, studied the L-ORAC of the avocado (Persea americana).
The ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) test measures the antioxidant capacity of a food. This is done using by using chromatography after a food has been fractioned.
In this case, the researchers used a lipid fraction to conduct the ORAC test – measuring the lipophilic elements of the avocado’s pulp. Lipophilic roughly means “fat-loving” – the ability of a certain compound to dissolve in or have affinity with fats, also called lipids.
The avocado’s lipophilic phytonutrients, which include tocopherols, sterols, monusaturates, carotens and acetogenins, provide the bulk of these antioxidant benefits.
The acetogenins in avocados have been found to provide more than just antioxidant benefits. Researchers from Ohio State University found that two of avocados’ acetogenins – dihydroxyheptadecenyl acetate and dihydroxyheptadecynyl acetate – inhibited the growth of cancer cells.
The researchers found that these two acetogenins blocked the phosphorylation process of oral cancer cells. This effectively stops their ability to expand and metasticize.
So far, five acetogenins have been found in avocado. The Monterey researchers found two addition acetogenins in their research.
Avocados reduce LDL-c and Triglycerides
Other research has found that avocados reduce low-density lipoprotein – a carrier for cholesterol in the body that is subject to peroxidation – which damages the blood vessel walls.
For example, 15 women were studied at the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, Australia. Those who ate a diet rich in avocados for three weeks found their total cholesterol reduced by over 8%, and LDL-c levels also went down significantly.
Another study of 12 diabetic women found that a four-week diet rich in avocaods reduced triglycerides by 20%. The study also found that the avocado diet increased their glycemic control as well.
Another study tested 67 volunteers – a third of which had high cholesterol – with either an avocado-enriched diet or a control diet. After only seven days, those on the avo-rich diet showed a reduction of total cholesterol by 16%-17%, an LDL-c reduction of 22%, and a 22% reduction in triglycerides. Those on the avocado-rich diet also had an average increase of 11% in HDL-c – the “good” lipoprotein.
Avocados contain numerous nutrients
Avocado contains a fatty alcohol or triol, called avocadene. Avocadene has a molecular structure of 16-heptadecene-1,2,4-triol. Avocadene has been shown to be antibacterial as well as anti-inflammatory.
Avocados also contain numerous other nutrients, and one of the best sources of B vitamins. Avocados contain 28% RDA (recommended daily amount) of vitamin B5, 20% RDA for vitamin B6. 20% RDA for folate (B9), 12% RDA for niacin and 9% RDA for vitamin B2.
Avocados also contain significant amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc.
Avocados also contain good fiber – about five grams for a medium avocado, equating to about a gram of fiber per ounce.
Most of avocado’s calories are derived from monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats like oleic oil have been found to reduce heart disease, reduce dementia risk and lower cholesterol levels.
Avocados are not fattening
Most people think that avocados are fatty foods that increase weight. Not true. In a study of sixty-one persons, with a control group on a calorie-restricted diet, those who ate avocado oil to replace their other oil sources had comparable weight loss with the other participants on diet.
The research was conducted by researchers from South Africa’s Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education. Their stated purpose was to “dispel the myth that avocados are fattening.”
gave part of a group of sixty-one obese persons on a weight loss regimen avocado oil to replace their other fat and oil sources. At the end of six weeks, the avocado oil subjects had similar weight loss results as with the other weight loss subjects.
The research included 13 men and 48 women, with BMIs (body mass index) of 32 +/- 3.9. They were paired and assigned to either a group who consumed 200 grams per day of avocados, each containing over 30 grams of fat on average. This served as a substitute for 30 grams of other dietary fats in their diets. The other group excluded avocado from their diets, while on a reduced-calorie diet for 6 weeks.
At the end of the six weeks, body mass, body mass index, and percentage of body fat decreased significantly in both groups in a similar manner.
The avocado plant is also medicinal
Traditional herbalists have used the bark, the seeds and the leaves of the avocado tree as a medicinal herb. The bark and the leaves of the avocado are used to strength irritable bowels, anemia and lung infections. The bark has been used to regulate menstruation.
Avocado pulp is also beneficial for the skin. The pulp can be spread over irritated and sensitive skin to provide an emollient effects as well as to speed up healing and reduce rashes and skin abrasions. For this reason avocado is also used to help slow wrinkle formation.
Truly, avocado is one of the most beneficial foods available. Personally I like to apply avocados as a dish topping – I call it my “tree cheese.”
Rodríguez-Sánchez D, Silva-Platas C, Rojo RP, García N, Cisneros-Zevallos L, García-Rivas G, Hernández-Brenes C. Activity-guided identification of acetogenins as novel lipophilic antioxidants present in avocado pulp (Persea americana). J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2013 Oct 18;942-943C:37-45. doi:10.1016/j.jchromb.2013.10.013.
D’Ambrosio SM, Han C, Pan L, Kinghorn AD, Ding H. Aliphatic acetogenin constituents of avocado fruits inhibit human oral cancer cell proliferation by targeting the EGFR/RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK1/2 pathway. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 Jun 10;409(3):465-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.05.027.
Pieterse Z, Jerling JC, Oosthuizen W, Kruger HS, Hanekom SM, Smuts CM, Schutte AE. Substitution of high monounsaturated fatty acid avocado for mixed dietary fats during an energy-restricted diet: effects on weight loss, serum lipids, fibrinogen, and vascular function. Nutrition. 2005 Jan;21(1):67-75
Lerman-Garber I, Ichazo-Cerro S, Zamora-González J, Cardoso-Saldaña G, Posadas-Romero C. Effect of a high-monounsaturated fat diet enriched with avocado in NIDDM patients. Diabetes Care. 1994 Apr;17(4):311-5.
Colquhoun DM, Moores D, Somerset SM, Humphries JA. Comparison of the effects on lipoproteins and apolipoproteins of a diet high in monounsaturated fatty acids, enriched with avocado, and a high-carbohydrate diet. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Oct;56(4):671-7.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.