Avocados are hugely popular these days and have made their way onto menus across the globe.
They’re super nutritious, great in smoothies and easy to include in tasty, raw desserts.
Each avocado has a single large seed that is normally thrown away, but some people claim that it has health benefits and should be eaten.
However, others wonder if it’s even safe to eat an avocado seed.
This article explores the potential health benefits of avocado seed, as well as possible safety concerns.
What’s in an Avocado Seed?
The avocado seed is encased in a hard shell and comprises 13–18% of the size of the whole fruit.
Information about its composition is limited, but it does contain a good range of fatty acids, dietary fiber, carbs and a small amount of protein.
The seed is also considered to be a rich source of phytochemicals, including substances that plants produce to protect themselves.
While some of the phytochemicals in an avocado seed may have antioxidant potential, others may not offer any health benefits.
The carbs in an avocado seed consist mainly of starch, with its dry weight being nearly 75% starch. Starch is made up of a long chain of sugars, and researchers have begun to investigate its potential use in food products.
SUMMARY: The seed of an avocado consists mainly of fatty acids, carbs in the form of starch and dietary fiber, as well as a small amount of protein and a broad range of phytochemicals.
Potential Health Benefits
In Nigeria, avocado seed extracts are used to manage high blood pressure.
The seeds are considered to be under-utilized, and early research suggests that they may have some health benefits.
Below are some potential ways in which avocado seed may benefit your health:
- Cholesterol: Avocado seed flour has been shown to reduce total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol in mice.
- Diabetes: It may reduce blood sugar levels in diabetic rats. One animal study showed that it was as effective as an anti-diabetic medication.
- Blood pressure: Animal studies suggest that avocado seed extracts may help relax blood vessels, which helps to reduce blood pressure, a key risk factor for heart disease.
- Antioxidant: Test-tube studies on avocado seed extracts have shown that the avocado seed may have strong antioxidant properties.
- Antibacterial: One test-tube study found that it stopped the growth of Clostridium sporogenes, a spore-forming bacteria.
- Antifungal: Avocado seed has inhibited fungal growth in test-tube studies. In particular, it can inhibit Candida albicans, a yeast that often causes problems in the gut.
While these findings are promising, note that they’re based on test-tube and animal studies. Further human-based research is needed before any conclusions can be made.
In addition, these studies mostly used processed avocado seed extracts, not the whole seed itself.
SUMMARY: Studies on avocado seeds suggest they may reduce your risk of heart disease and fight off bacteria and fungi. Nevertheless, further research in humans is needed before any conclusions can be made.
There are concerns that some plant compounds in avocado seed, such as trypsin inhibitors and cyanogenic glycosides, may be harmful.
Safety tests on avocado seed are in the early stages and limited to animal studies.
One Nigerian study gave rats very high doses of avocado seed extract over 28 days and observed no harmful effects.
Furthermore, based on the local population’s consumption of avocado seeds, it estimated the maximum daily intake of avocado seed extract to be 1.4 mg per pound (3 mg per kg) of body weight in adult humans.
Another study in mice found that avocado seed extract showed no toxicity when ingested in concentrations up to 227 mg per pound (500 mg per kg) of body weight per day. Mice who ingested this or a higher level of avocado seed extract died within 24 hours.
There are also concerns that avocado seed oil may cause harm, as it has been shown to increase enzymes and fat build-up in the livers of rats.
Currently, there is not enough evidence to be assured that avocado seed is safe for human consumption, as the research thus far has been conducted in animals.
Also, the extraction process used in the studies could alter its effects on your body.
SUMMARY: Research on the safety of avocado seed is sparse. It can be harmful to mice and rats in very high doses, and it’s unknown whether it’s safe for human consumption.
How to Eat an Avocado Seed
Avocado seeds are very hard and must be prepared before they can be eaten.
First, they need to be dried out in the oven at a high temperature for a few hours. Some people dry the seeds in the oven for two hours at 250°F (121°C).
Once the seed is dehydrated, it can be chopped and placed in a blender or food processor until it forms a powder.
The powder can then be added to smoothies or used in teas, sauces or dips.
However, drying out the seed may reduce its antioxidant content, so you may not reap the benefits you expected.
Note that the seed is bitter. If you are going to add it to your smoothie, make sure to balance it with some sweetness by including fruit, such as a banana or some strawberries.
Importantly, there is no evidence to show that avocado seed is safe to eat. It’s likely a better idea to have a cup of green tea or handful of berries, rather than taking a risk.
If you do decide to try avocado seed, it might be best to only eat it occasionally to reduce the likelihood of harmful side effects.
SUMMARY: Avocado seeds need to be dried out, chopped and blended before they can be eaten. However, the drying process may significantly reduce their antioxidant content.
The Bottom Line
While animal and test-tube studies have found some benefits of avocado seeds, evidence to suggest health benefits in people is lacking.
Animal studies also show that high amounts may cause adverse side effects, though no human-based studies have examined their safety.
It’s currently not recommended to eat avocado seeds.
If you do decide to try avocado seed, keep your intake to a minimum to reduce the risk of potential adverse side effects.
Title: Is It Safe and Healthy to Eat the Seed of an Avocado?