When you down an overpriced smashed avo at Saturday brunch, you could be missing out on the most valuable part. New research suggests the avocado seed husk – that’s the hard shell that surrounds the seed – could be an untapped source of health-boosting compounds.
While you may have seen avocado seed oil at your healthfood store, manufacturers remove the husk surrounding the seed before making this oil. "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," says Dr Debasish Bandyopadhyay, from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
In their research, presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, the scientists ground up dried avo seed husks into powder. They processed this into oil and wax.
In the oil, they found 116 compounds. This included docosanol, which is already used in an anti-viral cold sore med; eptacosane, which might stop the growth of tumor cells, and dodecanoic acid, which increases good cholesterol – thus potentially reducing the risk of heart disease. In short: avo is useful for more than just a tasty taco topping.
The wax also contained a number of ingredients used in prods from shower curtains to cosmetics. FYI though – don’t do any DIY husk oil experiments. Two-thirds of the husk wax is made up of benzyl butyl phthalate – it’s very toxic.
The researchers hope to modify these compounds so they can be used to create medications with less side effects. The question is, will these meds also taste as delicious as smashed avo?