WASHINGTON — We know that avocados contain many nutrients for human bodies, not the least of which is healthy fat that our brains need to run efficiently. Now a new study reports that an avocado’s seed husks, the flaky layer surrounding the seed, could contain a “gold mine” of compounds useful for treating a plethora of debilitating diseases, and even enhance the effectiveness of cosmetics, perfumes, and other consumer goods.
Researchers from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley ground 300 dried avocado seed husks into 21 ounces of powder. They further processed the husks to produce about three teaspoons of seed husk oil and a little more than one ounce of seed husk wax. Using a process called chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis, the team found 116 compounds in the oil and 16 in the wax.
“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 lead author Debasish Bandyopadhyay in a news release by the American Chemical Society.
Dr. Bandyopadhyay found behenyl alcohol, also called docosanol, an important ingredient in many anti-viral medications; heptacosane, which is being tested for its ability to inhibit the growth of tumor cells; and dodecanoic acid which has been shown to increase the levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good fat,” which can help prevent plaque buildup in arteries.
The researchers also discovered several potentially useful chemical compounds in the wax they produced. Those compounds can be used in everything from cosmetics to shower curtains to food additives. “Our results also suggest that the seed husks are a potential source of chemicals used in plastics and other industrial products,” says Bandyopadhyay.
Looking to the future, the research team plans on using the compounds to try and create modified versions of medications that could lead to fewer side effects.
The research was presented Aug. 21, 2017 the 254th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.