Avocados are generally considered to be rather marvelous, and not just by those who lurk on Instagram trying to get their snap color balance just right. They’re tasty – with a bit of salt, lemon juice, and olive oil, of course – and they’re exceptionally nutritious, in that they’re packed with monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, soluble fibers, and minerals like iron, copper, and potassium.
You are, however, not getting the most out of them, at least according to a team of researchers at the annual gathering of the American Chemical Society. As it turns out, the fleshy green-yellow part of the avocado may be eaten with reckless abandon by millions every single day, but it’s actually not the most nutritious part of the berry.
That honor goes to the sheath that’s enveloping the pip at the center. This oil that partly makes up the seed husk is loaded up with (potentially, depending on which study you read at the time) anti-viral chemicals, anti-cancer compounds, and components that help to reduce the likelihood of blood clots appearing in arteries. The waxy part of the husk contains chemicals that, when processed, can be used to make medical device parts, food additives, and cosmetics.
All in all, these husks are veritable “gold mines” of useful compounds that have, until now, remained under the radar. Although this doesn’t mean that you should now go about peeling off these husks and munching on them too – especially as they’re fairly inedible in that form – it does suggest that avocados are more valuable than many have previously considered.
The team, from the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, explain in a statement that they dried and ground up the husks of 300 avocados, before putting them through a mass spectrometer, to make this discovery.
“It could very well be that avocado seed husks, which most people consider as the waste of wastes, are actually the gem of gems because the medicinal compounds within them could eventually be used to treat cancer, heart disease and other conditions,” lead researcher Dr Debasish Bandyopadhyay said in a statement.
“Our results also suggest that the seed husks are a potential source of chemicals used in plastics and other industrial products.”
They add that in the future, we should be recycling these pips so that they can be broken down and turned into a variety of delicious, medicinal, or constructive compounds.
Right now, most avocados that Americans consume come from Guatemala. They require a lot of water to grow, take a lot of land to cultivate, and are shipped via air. This means that a pair of avocados can often bring with them a heavy carbon footprint, one that’s higher than almost every other commonly consumed fruit or vegetable.
This new research isn’t just good news for health aficionados, but for the planet. A scheme to upcycle the pips would at least get more out of the popular fruit with the massive carbon price tag.
[H/T: Popular Science]