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Study Hall: Avocado oil protects against free radicals


For Study Hall each week, we sort through the deluge of new medical studies and wordy white papers to bring you one that deserves your attention—in plain, healthy English.

avocado
(Photo: Acozykitchen.com)

According to research presented last week at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in San Diego, avocado oil may protect against pesky free radicals, molecules in your body that are linked to premature aging, tissue damage, and diseases like cancer and diabetes.

The study: Previous research has shown that the antioxidants in vegetables like carrots and tomatoes are not as effective at protecting against free radical damage because the antioxidants are unable to enter the mitochondria of the cell. Researchers from Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo in Mexico decided to test whether the antioxidants in avocados would be able to perform better.

They exposed yeast cells (their simple structure makes them easy to study) to iron, since iron produces high levels of free radicals in yeast, and measured whether avocado oil was able to reduce the levels of free radicals.

The results: Avocado oil did protect the yeast cells from the free radicals induced by iron exposure, and the researchers speculated that the fat found in avocado oil and pigments that inhibit oxidation (free radical production) contributed to this protective effect.

What it means: Switch things up in the kitchen. Avocado oil can be used in virtually any dish that calls for oil. Plus, olive oil has a fat composition that’s very similar to avocado oil, so if you’re diet is distinctly Mediterranean, you’re probably reaping similar benefits. —Allison Becker