Avocados are currently massively popular and rightfully so. These have got to be among the tastiest ‘superfoods’ out there, as well as perhaps the most versatile.
Avocados are fruits that grow naturally but that are somewhat different from other fruits that you might find in stores. Apart from anything else, these fruits are not sweet and juicy like oranges, apples or many other fruits. That’s because they are primarily a source of saturated fats rather than carbohydrates, which immediately makes them an appealing option for anyone on a low-carb diet.
Avoiding carbs is of course a popular way to avoid blood sugar spikes, energy surges and a range of other negative health effects. Saturated fats were once considered to be bad for us due to studies that found links between diets high in fat and heart problems, but they have since had their name ‘cleared’ and it is now known that healthy fats like avocado only increase the ‘good’ kind of cholesterol called HDL cholesterol. They’re actually very good for your heart, support healthy brain function and improve the absorption of nutrients.
Avocado can offer you all of these benefits and more, thanks to its content of numerous crucial fatty acids. And on top of that, it’s just fantastic tasting, very filling and incredibly versatile. It goes perfectly in salad and it works great when mashed up on toast.
In this post, we’ll be isolating one particular aspect of the wonderful avocado and looking at specific avocado oil benefits. You can get this by eating your avocados the old fashioned way, or you can consume it separately and even use it for cooking just like olive oil or other types of oil!
The first benefit you get from avocado oil is a high amount of oleic acid. Oleic acid is a particularly healthy fat that makes up 70% of the avocado oil (which is made by pressing the pulp of an avocado). This fatty acid is the main component of olive oil too and is the reason that that is likewise considered to be a very healthy type of fat.
Specifically, oleic acid seems to be especially good for the heart and this might be why those that eat a Mediterranean diet are generally so healthy and live such long lives.
Note that avocados have a high ratio of omega 6 to omega 3. This is a potential negative of avocado oil, seeing as omega 6 can cause inflammation. However, the amount of omega 6 present is low enough that this should not be considered a cause for concern.
As mentioned, more recent research has rubbished the notion that fat causes bad cholesterol. Multiple studies now confirm that healthy saturated fats actually only raise HDL cholesterol - which is the good kind – and lower LDL cholesterol, which is the bad kind.
In one study, avocado oil was compared with coconut oil and corn oil in order to see which had the most beneficial impact on cholesterol. Can you guess which won?
Avocado oil is a source of lutein, which is a carotenoid found in the eyes. Lutein is an antioxidant that works particularly to enforce eye health. Thus, this is often recommended in supplement form for the elderly and especially those that are struggling with eye problems such as cataracts.
What’s perhaps more interesting though, is that lutein also has beneficial effects on the cells and helps to make them more energy efficient. Specifically, lutein improves the function of the mitochondria to help burn through more glucose and provide more useable energy for the body.
In one study, lutein was given to mice in a cage and it was found that they began to voluntarily increase their activity on treadmills to the point that they began running long distances and burning more fat. For this reason, it was described by Men’s Health magazine as a motivational trainer ‘in a pill’.
More recently, it has also been found that lutein is a powerful brain boosting nutrient too and that it can enhance learning particularly in preadolescents. Infants get a lot of lutein from their mother’s breast milk and research appears to show that the amount of lutein in children’s eyes directly correlates with their developmental milestones and their overall academic performance. In adults, it appears to support cognitive speed and processing efficiency, along with memory. These effects are more noticeable when zeaxanthin is also present. And guess what else avocado contains?
The rub is that to get these benefits, it is important to consume zeaxanthin and lutein with a source of fat – seeing as they are fat soluble. So that means that avocado oil is actually the perfect delivery system as well!
As though all that wasn’t enough, there are plenty more good reasons to consume avocados and avocado oil as well. As we’ve already seen, the fats in avocado make it great for improving the absorption of fat soluble vitamins and minerals. This makes it a perfect choice for eating with a salad as it means you’ll get even more benefits from nutrients packed within.
Avocado oil is also a great source of monounsaturated omega 9 fatty acid and it could even be useful in combating arthritis symptoms due to unsaponifiables content. Some studies show that these unsaponifiables may also help to prevent gum disease by blocking the unwanted protein IL1B. This protein causes inflammation and is the main driving force behind the tissue destruction that leads to bone loss during gum disease. When combined with vitamin B12, avocado oil even seems to be effective at improving the health of the skin and has been shown to be effective in combating psoriasis over the course of a 12 week treatment.
Do keep in mind however, that avocados and avocado oil are high in calories. While they may aid with weight loss by helping you to feel fuller, they do add to your overall caloric intake so it’s important to factor this in when planning meals!