Botanical oils are a base for many cosmetics and topical pharmaceuticals. The best absorption happens when plants have lots of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that is present in abundance in avocados, and saturated fats with long carbon backbones, like the stearic acid present in avocados.
Uses In Ayurvedic And Chinese Medicine
In Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine system of India, the rich oils of the avocado are valued as grounding and nourishing. It is a food recommended in Ayurvedic medicine for use in the dry seasons of fall and winter, and to support poor digestion, joint health, essential vitality and skin conditions.
In traditional Chinese medicine, avocado is used to treat the GI tract and lungs. It lubricates the colon to treat constipation and stomach ulcers. Avocado also moistens the lungs to treat chronic coughs. The oils are considered nourishing to the Yin and therefore protective of an aging body.
Burns And Scars
Stearic acid, the saturated fat in avocado oil, is anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. It has been demonstrated to be effective at treating chemical burns, decreasing the redness and irritation of the burn. There are no trials demonstrating that effect on humans, but there is evidence from trials done on rats that components of the avocado, combined with similar components of the soybean, did improve wound healing. The component is called an unsaponifiable, which means oils that retain their properties and do not mix to create soap.
The unsaponifiable part of an avocado is the fraction that cannot be made into soap. It contains lots of fat-soluble vitamins and phytosterols. Avocado unsaponifiables, when combined with soy unsaponifiables (together abbreviated as ASU), are very effective at treating osteoarthritis, a painful condition of the joints. ASU has been shown to reduce joint pain and inflammation, reducing the need for medications, which carry the risk of serious side effects. More impressive, these plant components prevent the progression of osteoarthritis, which pain medication alone cannot do.
Avocado oil is green, and fairly thick, making it less desirable as massage oil. However, its ability to penetrate the skin deeply, paired with the rich nutrient profile of avocado oil, makes it a popular choice for anti-aging. Vitamins A, D and E, all of which are abundant in avocado oil, moisturize dry skin. Its rich antioxidant profile is combined with the high fat content work to restore collagen and skin elasticity.
The anti-aging effects have been found from eating avocados as well. The rich anti-oxidant content of avocados helps repair DNA, reversing the effects of ionizing radiation and slowing the aging process.
The pits have been studied for their anti-microbial activity. As more organisms show resistance to pharmaceutical antimicrobials, the interest in plant material is expanding. Avocado seeds have been shown to be effective against several strains ofCandida, E. Coli, Staph aureusandmethicillin-resistant staph aureus (MRSA).
While it is very high in fat, the avocado oil is rich in monounsaturated oleic acid, along with beta-sitosterol, and contains no sugar. The low sugar content of the avocado helps stabilize blood sugar in patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.
Plant sterols are used to help lower cholesterol. Better clinical studies are needed to determine whether avocados prevent deaths from heart disease, but it has been shown that an avocado-rich diet improves the risk factors for heart disease. Avocados have been shown to lower total cholesterol while preserving or increasing HDL, and lowering LDL, the bad cholesterol.
The main saturated fat in avocados is the 16-carbon fat stearic acid. Stearic acid when eaten is the most poorly absorbed of the common fatty acids, so most of it is passed through the GI tract. When found in the blood stream, it does not convert to the triglycerides that are well recognized as a contributor to heart disease. The liver quickly converts stearic in the blood stream to the unsaturated fatty acid oleic acid.
In addition to the recognized place for nutrient-dense foods, including the avocado, in preventing cancer, the avocado is being studied for possible efficacy against cancer. Several bioactive phytochemicals taken from avocado have shown promise in fighting cancers ranging from cancers of the head and neck to prostate cancer. Persin, an anti-fungal agent present in small doses in the avocados skin and seed, may be effective at treating breast cancer.
When combined with vitamin B12 in a topical cream, avocado oil has been shown to be effective for managing chronic plaque psoriasis. It was consistently effective at managing symptoms without side effects and without waning in efficacy over a 12-week trial.
Spanish explorers observed Aztec cultivation of the avocado and noted the resemblance of the avocado to a testicle. The Spanish word for avocado is ahuacate, which was the Aztec word for testicle. At the time it was believed that plants that resembled body parts would enhance the function of that body part, so they believed the avocado would serve as an aphrodisiac and enhance male virility.
Avocado oil is also popular for essential oils preparations. The oil has a bland scent, so it does not overpower the essential oils that may be added to it.
More Avocado Oil Facts
Unrefined, expeller pressed almond oil will contain the best profile of nutrients and fats. Avocado oil is green when it is extracted, but it quickly turns pale brown. If an avocado oil is bright green, it has probably been altered or dyed with coloring agents.
If you have an allergy to latex, or if you are not sure if you have a latex allergy, avocado oil should be avoided, even as a topical agent. The IgE reaction that occurs when someone has a latex allergy seems to cause a cross-reaction with certain foods, including avocados, as well as bananas and kiwi.
If your child has a latex allergy or if you are not sure if your child has a latex allergy, avocado oil should be avoided, even as a topical agent. The flavor of the oil itself may not agree with kids, but the fats contained in an avocado are wonderful support for their developing nervous system. Whole avocados are often pureed as a babys first solid food or added to smoothies to give them a creamy consistency, loaded with nutrients.
Avocado oil is an overlooked gem for cooking. Nutrient rich and stable at high heat (higher than olive oil), it is a way to protect your heart when frying and a great option for sauting as well. It does have a bitter flavor when heated, so adjustments to the recipe may be needed to improve the palatability.
Kept under proper storage conditions, avocado oil will last about 1 year. Vitamin E may be added at a concentration of 1 percent to help extend the shelf life. Many sites claim that avocado oil is effective as a sunscreen, however there is no evidence to support that claim. While avocado oil penetrates the skin and contains lots of antioxidants, the only study examining it as a sunscreen was using the avocado oil as a base for octyl methoxycin and titanium dioxide. Always use a sunscreen with a guaranteed SPF.
Most studies show that weight loss is the result of avocado in the diet. As a nutrient-dense food, it can help you feel full sooner, replacing higher carbohydrate foods that are lower in nutrients overall.
Caution And Considerations
The IgE allergy reaction that occurs when someone has a latex allergy seems to cause a cross-reaction with certain foods, including avocados, as well as bananas and kiwi. Avoid avocados if you have a latex allergy until you talk it over with your doctor.
Persin is the toxic component of the skin and seeds of avocados. It seems to be mostly safe for dogs to eat, but other household or farm animals, including cattle, goats, horses, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, sheep, budgerigars, canaries, cockatiels, ostriches, chickens, turkeys and fish, may develop serious complications from eating avocados.
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