Mexican researchers have found antioxidant-rich avocado oil boosts the body’s ability to fight harmful free radicals that can lead to disease.
The finding, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in San Diego, suggests avocado oil works to boost health at the cellular level by powering up cells’ ability to combat diabetes and other diseases and illnesses.
"Our results are promising because they indicate that avocado consumption could improve the health status of diabetic and other patients through an additional mechanism to the improvement of blood lipids," said lead researcher Christian Cortés-Rojo, with the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo in Morelia, Michoacán, México.
Researchers noted a number of environmental factors -- such as pollution, cigarette smoke and radiation -- can turn the oxygen molecules found in the body’s mitochondria (power plants of cells) into harmful free radicals. These unstable molecules destroy lipids, proteins and even DNA and are associated with aging and a variety of diseases, including diabetes and high blood pressure.
As a result, scientists are investigating the health benefits of a wide range of antioxidants and other substances that bolster cell resistance to the harmful effects of free radicals.
Cortés-Rojo’s team used yeast cells – those used in wine and beer production – to examine avocado oil's beneficial properties. They found avocado oil allowed the yeast cells to survive exposure to high concentrations of iron, which produces a huge amount of free radicals, "even to higher levels to those found in some human diseases."
Cortés-Rojo noted past research has found that avocado lowers cholesterol and certain fats that are increased in diabetic patients and that may lead to stroke or heart attack.
He added that his study’s findings suggest increased use of avocado oil or some of its components could reduce the impact of chronic degenerative diseases.
"In some Mediterranean countries, low or almost no appearance of these kinds of diseases has been associated with the high olive oil consumption," he said. "Olive oil has a fat composition similar to that found in avocado oil. Therefore, avocado oil could eventually be referred to as the olive oil of the Americas."
The study was funded, in part, by the Mexico's National Council on Science and Technology and the Program for Improvement of Professorate of the Mexican Ministry of Public Education.