Avocado seed husks jam-packed with medicinal compounds

Henrietta Strickland
August 23, 2017

But though we may only eat the delicious middle green part of an avocado, that giant pit may have more uses than previously thought: A team of scientists has discovered the fruit's husk is packed with potentially valuable compounds.

The annual production of avocados throughout the world is approximately 5 million tons. Researchers found that avocado seed husks contain a variety of chemical compounds that could help to kill viruses, combat heart problems, and even treat cancer.

Researchers from the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, analyzed the components of the avocado seed husk and found the following chemicals: behenyl alcohol, an important ingredient used in anti-viral medications; heptacosane, which may help to inhibit the growth of tumor cells; and dodecanoic acid, which increases high-density lipoprotein and so may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, a press release reported.

"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", explained Dr. Debasish Bandyopadhyay, from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

The husk, when ground into a powder, provided approximately three teaspoons of seed husk oil and slightly more than an ounce of seed husk wax.

The researchers are presenting their work today at the 254th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Granted, the first two compounds have been found in other parts of the avocado, however, the last one isn't found in avocado flesh, illustrating the seed husk's untapped potential. Knowing that there was an annual worldwide production of five million tonnes of avocados - 1.9 million pounds of which are consumed in the US - and that their seeds contributed to industrial waste, he thought to collect the husks from the seeds to see how to put them to good use. But while the flesh is eaten, in most cases the seed is discarded.

The wax was also found to be full of benefits. In the wax, the team discovered a plasticizer called benzyl butyl phthalate that is used to improve flexibility in various products, including shower curtains and medical devices.

The team will be conducting further research to assess the use of these natural compounds in making medicines and their effectiveness.

"There are a lot of different compounds in the husks and you have to be able to separate them", he says.

In other words, continue smashing up your avocado on artisanal multi grain, but leave the husks to the pros.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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