- What is Avocado Oil?
- Health Benefits of Avocado Oil
- 1. Improves Immune System Health
- 2. Combats Heart Disease
- 3. Improves Blood Health
- 4. Maintains Eye Health
- 5. Antioxidants Combat Aging and Serious Diseases
- 6. Reduces Prostate Cancer Risks
- 7. Regulates Metabolism
- 8. Improves Joint Health and Fights Arthritis
- 9. Maintains Dental Health as We Age
- 10. Improves Skin Health
- Making/Buying/Using it
- Side Effects and Other Concerns
- Don’t Miss: 11 Proven Health Benefits of Black Seed Oil
The popularity of avocados in recent times is huge – it has grown to become a staple in the diet of many of those in the English-speaking and has a buttery texture, being used in a variety of foods. Avocados are actually berries, making them a fruit rather than a vegetable. The high concentration of healthy fats in avocado are the reason for their popularity among those whose diets are ‘high fat’ and they provide an excellent source of calories for those on plant-based diets. Avocado oil, then, is the product of this high-fat fruit.
The popularity of avocado oil is increasing in line with its popularity as a food stuff and there are serious benefits to the oil itself, although it comes with its own risks and concerns. In this article we’re going to discuss the evidence-based benefits of avocado oil and what we should be on the lookout for when buying and using it.
What is Avocado Oil?
Avocado oil is the oil extracted from the common avocado fruit, taken from the flesh and distilled to remove the pulp or ‘flesh’ of the fruit. This is rare among oils, which are generally taken from the nut, seed or kernel of a plant rather than the flesh. The obvious reason for this with avocado oil is the toxicity of the avocado seed. It is a far easier oil to produce year-round than competitors such as olive and Argan, which are harvested during half of the year and stockpiled thereafter. Avocado oil is widely sold as a health food.
Avocado oil is processed very differently depending on what the intended use is: the extraction and processing of the oil for skin products generally involves bleaching and deodorizing, making it totally inappropriate for cooking use. The cooking oil, however, is purer and can be used for both skin and cooking purposes – we will focus mainly on the pure cooking oil.
Health Benefits of Avocado Oil
1. Improves Immune System Health
Avocado oil is a carrier and catalyst in the biological use of many other vitamins. Primarily, it can improve the absorption of carotenoids (Vitamin A analogues) and Vitamin E – these are incredibly important in the proper functioning of the human immune system. Increasing the intake of avocado oil can mean an improved resistance to illness and improve health in general.
2. Combats Heart Disease
The oleic acid found in avocado is Omega-9, a far less famous member of the omega family. This is primarily because it can be produced in the body to an extent, but a dietary intake of Oleic acid can have huge benefits on the health and longevity of the heart, protecting against plaque build-up in the arteries and coronary heart disease. Considering that heart disease is still the #1 killer in the English-speaking world, this is a huge benefit.
3. Improves Blood Health
‘Blood lipids’ refers to the balance of various fats in the bloodstream, with ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterols as well as triglycerides. Too much of either bad cholesterol or triglycerides can result in hyperlipidemia and cause serious problems such as the blocking of arteries, increase in blood pressure and increased likelihood of heart attacks. Compared to other oils – such as coconut, corn and even olive oil – avocado has the best effects on lowering bad cholesterol, whilst it tied olive for improving good cholesterol. These have yet to be discussed in human studies but the various animal studies show promising results.
4. Maintains Eye Health
Avocado oil is high in a variety of antioxidant agents – as it is produced from the pulp of the avocado rather than the seed or kernel of other plants, it provides a greater quantity of phytochemicals. These are plant-based chemicals that provide health benefits and have some effects similar to vitamins. Lutein is just one example of this, being incredibly effective antioxidants and having similar effects on the health of the eyes that we usually see in carotenoids (vitamin A).
5. Antioxidants Combat Aging and Serious Diseases
Aside from the specific effects of lutein, avocado oil’s antioxidant properties can reduce the risks of cell damage, which is a prominent cause of the negative effects of aging, the degradation of the organs and the development of cancer. By making a simple switch from corn oils to avocado oil, we can reduce the visible and internal signs of aging and improve health for the future – this is a huge benefit, but even more so when we consider that avocado oil is delicious!
6. Reduces Prostate Cancer Risks
Phytosterols – cholesterol-like compounds found in plant foods – are also able to improve the health and wellbeing of the body through the prevention of certain forms of cancer. Phytosterols found in avocado oil have been shown to preferentially affect the chances of developing prostate cancer, meaning that the simple switch from corn oils to avocado oil could reduce the risks of developing life-changing medical conditions.
7. Regulates Metabolism
The composition of avocado oil is also useful for health – it is primarily constituted by monounsaturated fats, which are effective in the control of blood sugar levels and the healthy secretion of insulin. For those who suffer from Type-2 diabetes, this can be a huge benefit. There are also low levels of Omega 3 and 6 found in avocado oil, which cannot be synthesized by the body so they should be represented (ideally with as much Omega-3 as Omega-6) in the diet.
8. Improves Joint Health and Fights Arthritis
Studies have shown that the consumption of certain types of fat, including avocado oil, can reduce the stiffness and pain in the joints that is symptomatic of arthritis. This is another common problem associated with aging and can be incredibly uncomfortable. This may mean that there are protective effects from avocado oil on those who are healthy or in the early stages of developing arthritis – studies have not shown the effectiveness in improving joint health in healthy individuals, but the mechanism seems to exist.
9. Maintains Dental Health as We Age
The reduction in the severity of arthritis (and osteoarthritis in particular) is also relevant to dental health: the proper uptake of minerals into bone and dental tissues are an essential part of continued health in these areas. Studies suggest that avocado oil blocks proteins that degrade bone and tooth minerals, aiding in the maintenance of dentin and enamel. If we can maintain the health of calcium and potassium in these parts of the body, we can maintain healthier teeth, gums and bones into advanced age.
10. Improves Skin Health
Avocado oil is useful for skin health whether we use it as a cooking oil or apply it directly to the skin! We have already mentioned the effect of avocado oil in improving the absorption of vitamins A and E, but vitamin E is closely related to the health of skin and hair. Equally, when we apply avocado oil to the skin, it is a moisturizing agent, provides UV ray protection and contains chemicals such as persin which are used to combat cancer cells. The anti-inflammatory effects of avocado oil may also be directly effective when applied to the skin, reducing the appearance of inflammation around blemishes, spots and low-level irritations.
11. Repairs and Conditions Dry Hair
As with skin health, avocado oil is helpful for the cosmetic and health properties of hair when consumed with food or applied directly to the hair. The absorption and use of key nutrients is achieved through cooking, but direct application to the hair supports the proper balance of essential oils and assists in repairing damage. This is commonly used to treat the damage associated with excessive wind, heat, cold, grooming and dry hair from genetic disposition.
Avocado oil has become widely available on the market – we suggest avoiding “avocado oil based” products as these tend to contain unnecessary bleaches and deodorants. A natural, cold-pressed avocado oil will be an interesting green color but will provide all the benefits associated with both cooking and cosmetic uses, without any of the unnecessary processing. Cold-pressed avocado oil generally costs around $10-25 and can be acquired in health stores or online. The main benefit of buying avocado oil in this form is that it is versatile and can be used for both cooking and cosmetic purposes, meaning that the costs are spread across skincare, hair condition and cooking.
Side Effects and Other Concerns
Our only real concern for the use of avocado oil is the concentration of persin, which has been flagged as a possible negative health concern in avocados. This is a fungicidal toxin found in avocado plants that is used to fight off fungal infections such as mold, but it has been claimed that there are some concerns for the damage of health. This compound is primarily effective in damaging cancerous cells – hence its value when applied to the skin – but some individuals can experience severe allergies to it. If you are allergic to persin, it is incredibly important to consult your healthcare professional and avoid avocado oil, as it may have a concentrated form of persin depending on the distilling process. For individuals who have no such allergies, there are almost no negative side effects and the consumption of persin has not been shown to cause negative health effects.
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