Could avocado oil fight aging and chronic disease? Christian Cortés-Rojo, a researcher at Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo in Morelia, Mexico, thinks it could prove to be a helpful tool in promoting health at the cellular level.
The oil, which is similar to olive oil in fat composition, could help to shield our bodies from and reduce the adverse effects of free radicals, damaged cells that can cause everything from heart disease to Alzheimer’s disease. According to Cortés-Rojo, “avocado oil could eventually be referred to as the olive oil of the Americas.”
Free radicals are particles that are in need of an extra electron and to stabilize, will often obtain this electron by damaging stable particles. This can cause a chain reaction, creating many more free radicals out of previously stable particles. Though free radicals are caused by pollutants, cigarette smoke, radiation, and certain chemicals, they’re also produced by your immune system and are a natural part of the aging process.
Research has found that antioxidants are an effective way to stop these reactions and stabilize free radicals, minimizing the problems they can cause in the body. While many fruits and vegetables have excellent antioxidant properties, they don’t often penetrate far enough into cells to protect the powerhouses of cells, mitochondria.
“The problem is that the antioxidants in [vegetables and fruits like carrots and tomatoes] are unable to enter mitochondria, “says Cortés-Rojo. “So free radicals go on damaging mitochondria, causing energy production to stop and the cell to collapse and die. An analogy would be that, during an oil spill, if we cleaned only the spilled oil instead of fixing the perforation where oil is escaping, then the oil would go on spilling, and fish would die anyway."
Enter avocado oil. Through tests on yeast samples, Cortés-Rojo and his team have discovered that avocado oil has an unusual talent—it can reach the mitochondria and defend against free radical attacks. "We'll need to confirm that what has been observed in yeasts could occur in higher organisms, such as humans,” says Cortés-Rojo. However, the initial results allude to avocado oil’s exciting potential to protect against free-radical-related maladies, like chronic disease and cell aging.
You can cook with avocado oil exactly as you would with any other oil, if not with even more versatility – it has a high smoke point so it’s especially well suited to stir-frying, sautéing, and searing.
How do you protect yourself from free radicals?