Avocado seeds may be able to treat inflammation
Avocado seed extracts could be a potential source for novel anti-inflammatory compounds that could be developed as a functional food ingredient or pharmaceuticals, according to researchers.
Serious health conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis and colitis are associated with chronic inflammation, but a study by Penn State researchers suggests avocados may be able to help. They found there are bioactive compounds in avocado seeds that have anti-inflammatory activity, and this lays the groundwork for more research.
“The level of activity that we see from the extract is very good,” said Joshua Lambert, Co-Director of Penn State’s Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health. “We saw inhibitory activity at concentrations in the low microgram-per-millilitre range, which is an acceptable amount of activity to justify further studies.”
Lambert said the researchers have developed the extract over the last decade as a food colourant and it is not known whether the compounds responsible for the extract’s vibrant orange colour play any role in its ability to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory mediators.
In the study, the researchers grew a class of immune cells called macrophages in Petri dishes and activated them with a pro-inflammatory stimulus in the presence or absence of the avocado seed extract. They measured the production of important pro-inflammatory mediators and signalling pathways in the cells after treatment with the extract.
“The next step, before we can draw further conclusions about the anti-inflammatory activity of this avocado seed extract, will be to design animal model studies,” said Lambert. “For example, we can look at a mouse model of ulcerative colitis where we formulate the avocado seed extract into the mice diet and look at whether it is able to reduce inflammation.”
As well as its potential ingredient and pharmaceutical benefits, the use of avocado seeds would help address the growing waste problem.
“If we can return value to avocado growers or avocado processors, that would be a benefit,” Lambert said. “And if we can reduce the amount of this material being dumped in landfills, that would be a good thing, given the huge amount of avocados that are consumed. This is encouraging because there is a market for other high-value sources of bioactive compounds we have tested in my lab, such as cocoa and green tea — whereas avocado seeds are essentially considered to be garbage.”
The research was supported by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The findings were published in Advances In Food Technology and Nutritional Sciences.
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