In recent years, the use of avocado seeds or pits in healthy diets increased in popularity. Some earlier research suggested that there may be some benefits in adding avocado seed extract to the diet.
In this article we look at how to eat avocado seeds and delve into some of their nutrition as well as some of the safety concerns around eating avocado seeds. We also discuss why experts recommend avocado pits are eaten occasionally rather than regularly.
Just What Are the Benefits of Avocado Seed?
An avocado seed can make up as much as 18% of a whole avocado and rather than just disposing of the seed after taking off the flesh, the seeds are now a popular addition to super smoothies and more.
Use of avocado seeds or extract of seeds actually dates back a lot longer than a few years ago. In some parts of Mexico and central America, avocado seeds were used as medicine to treat a range of conditions from toothache to skin problems and even arthritis.
Although information about nutrition is still limited, avocado seeds are known to contain fiber, carbs, a little protein and a range of fatty acids.
Avocado seeds also contain a range of other compounds not least antioxidants such as vitamins which play a key role in defending against damage by free radical molecules in the body – the molecules involved in aging as well as diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Avocado seed extracts have been linked in lowering blood sugar levels in laboratory rats with diabetes and they may also be able to help reduce blood pressure by helping to relax blood vessels and the polyphenols in avocado pits may also act as anti-inflammatories.
Avocado pit extracts have also been seen to act as antibacterial and antifungal agents in laboratories.
How to Use Avocado Seed
Avocado seed has a bitter taste, so however you decide to use it, remember to add some sweeter ingredients such as sweet berries to counteract its bitterness.
You can add avocado seeds to smoothies, green juices, teas and dips, or even mix it into your sauces or green salads.
What Is Avocado Seed Powder and Can You Make It at Home?
Avocado seed powder is the powder made from drying out and then blending or processing the dehydrated avocado seed. As you will be aware, avocado seeds are very hard, so before you can eat them, they must first be prepared.
Baking avocado seeds is the quickest way to dry them out unless you have a dehydrator. To dry out seeds in the oven, bake them for around two hours at 250°F. You can also leave the seed out to dry at room temperature overnight or out in a sunny spot on the balcony or porch. It may turn slightly orange – this is nothing to worry about.
Whichever way you dry the seed out, the skin of the seed should be starting to peel once the seed is dried. After drying out, the skin of the seed can be removed and trashed and the seeds then roughly chopped or crushed – such as with a rolling pin - and then blended or processed into a powder.
If you do not have a blender or processor, then a coffee grinder may also be suitable, or you can mince it with a suitable knife or even just grate the seed with a grater.
Just remember that processing the seeds through heat can reduce some of the avocado pit benefits.
If you do not have the time to make avocado seed powder at home, it can also be found pre-ground in some whole food or other specialty stores, or even online.
How Do You Make Avocado Seeds Tea?
There are different ways to make avocado seeds tea, from adding boiling water to avocado seed powder, or the more common way in which you boil the whole seed until soft – between five and fifteen minutes – then cut up the softened pit and steep the pieces of pit in hot water for five minutes or so before pouring out the tea.
As it does have natural bitterness, avocado seed tea can be sweetened with agave syrup or honey.
How Safe Are Avocado Seeds?
Opinion among experts seems to be consume avocado seed occasionally rather than regularly to prevent the risk of side effects and even professional organizations such as the California Avocado Commission recommends we do not eat the seed of the avocado, even the early data for avocado seeds ‘is promising’.
Although there is currently little evidence of side effects in humans, some animal studies have shown avocado seed extract to be toxic and even lethal at high doses. These effects in animals are possibly due to persin, a plant toxin found in both the seeds and leaves of avocado plants, although there are other compounds that may act on other living cells and tissues.
Interestingly though, persin has also been shown to cause cell death in two key female cancers in cancer cell lines in the laboratory.
Although avocado seeds do contain many beneficial nutrients, they also contain anti-nutrients, compounds such as tannins (found in tea), saponins (found in legumes such as peas and lentils) and oxalate (found in leafy greens).
Anti-nutrients can act to reduce the absorption of certain nutrients in the body and in some cases, such as with oxalate, lead to other health conditions such as kidney stones. Because these compounds work as negative nutrients, they may block some of the ‘good’ nutrition that you would otherwise gain from your healthy smoothie or salad.
To date, early research has focused on use of avocado seed extract rather than just avocado seed powder and the studies have involved animals and cell lines in the laboratory rather than human studies.Therefore, although some of the early research does appear positive, various experts do recommend that avocado seeds are eaten occasionally rather than frequently – at least until such time as more is known about how avocado pits may affect us.