Kim is an RN and author of the book "360 Health: Your Guide to Cancer Prevention, Healing Foods, & Total Body Wellness."
Avocado, that "good fat" fruit we've all heard about, has many uses in the kitchen. We make guacamole with it, chop it up for salads, and even blend it into our smoothies. It's creamy texture and rich flavor truly delight the taste buds. But have you ever used avocado oil?
Both avocados and avocado oil are nutrient dense, vitamin-packed superfoods. They contain, in abundance, fat-soluble vitamins like A, E, and K. They're also a good source of potassium, folate, vitamin C, and magnesium.
Probably the most beneficial aspect of the avocado, however, is its high monounsaturated fat content. Avocado oil is 70% oleic acid, the same omega-9 fatty acid that is found in olive oil. Oleic acid is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and is thought to even lower the risk for certain cancers. Oleic acid also resists oxidation, helping to make avocado oil quite shelf-stable.
Because avocado oil is made directly from the pulp of the avocado (and not from the seed of the plant as are many other oils), this oil retains all of the goodness and benefits of the fruit itself, minus the fiber.
5 Health Benefits of Avocado OIl
So, how exactly does avocado oil make us healthier? Research shows that its monounsaturated fats and nutrients help fight inflammation and disease; increase satiety, aiding in weight loss; and nourish our bodies inside and out.
1) Decreases the Symptoms of Arthritis
In France, doctors often prescribe a combination of avocado oil and soybean oil called ASU (Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables) to patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis. Studies in the United States have also shown that ASU reduces pain and stiffness while improving joint function, resulting in decreased dependence on analgesics.
A 2003 study published in the Journal of Rheumatologyreported ASU inhibited the breakdown of cartilage and promoted its repair. So not only can it help with pain, it can help prevent and reverse arthritis as well.
Alone, avocado oil has anti-inflammatory properties which can, in turn, reduce pain. It also contains magnesium which is a key mineral for bone health and relaxation of muscles.
2) Reduces the Risk for Cardiovascular and Other Diseases
Avocado oil contains beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol, which has been shown to positively affect cholesterol levels. This sterol works to balance out and improve LDL and HDL ("bad" and "good") cholesterol ratios. In rat studies, avocado oil was also shown to help decrease triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure.
In addition to the heart, beta-sitosterol has been found to reduce the growth of human prostate and colon cancer cells. It also acts against lymphocytic leukemia.
Because avocado oil can even help mitochondrial function, it further boosts immunity and decreases oxidative stress at the cellular level. This ensures healthy cell turnover and wards off the development of abnormal cancerous cells.
3) Wards Off Periodontal Disease
A 2006 study found that the avocado/soybean oil combination (ASU) blocks a harmful protein called IL-1Beta. This protein creates inflammation and is at the root cause of tissue loss in gum disease. It may also be responsible for tooth and bone deterioration in the mouth.
Have you heard of "oil pulling?" This trend is gaining popularity, and use of avocado oil for this may be just what the dentist ordered. Oil pulling involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for up to 20 minutes then spitting it out. This action supposedly draws out toxins in your body, primarily to improve oral health but also to improve your overall health. Avocado oil is a great choice for this technique because of its anti-inflammatory and gum-protective properties.
4) Increases Nutrient Absorption
Avocado oil's fats, when combined with other foods, increase the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, notably vitamins A, D, E, and K. Also, avocado can substantially increase the absorption of beta-carotene and lutein in foods.
Carotenoids are compounds (beta-carotene is one type) found primarily in brightly colored foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, squash, cantaloupe, and spinach. When these foods are eaten with avocado oil, the carotenoids are absorbed up to 15 times better. Beta-carotene can boost immunity and is associated with clear skin and improved respiratory health.
Lutein is another carotenoid known for improving eye health. It is a powerful antioxidant and can help decrease the chance of cataracts and macular degeneration.
5) Nourishes Skin and Hair
I personally use avocado oil as a facial moisturizer after showering. I apply a few dots to my cheeks, forehead, chin, and nose and blend it in. It absorbs nicely and really leaves my skin feeling hydrated.
Avocado oil is rich in vitamin E which helps to decrease skin damage. It can also tighten skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
The journal Dermatology reported that researchers studied an avocado oil and vitamin B12 combination cream and found it effective in the treatment of psoriasis. In rat studies, it also was found to accelerate wound healing.
Avocado oil, applied to the skin or to the scalp, is readily absorbed. The vitamin E, potassium, and lecithin nourish the epidermis and penetrate the whole way to the deeper dermis layer. This oil is said to strengthen hair and increase hair growth. It can even be applied to the hair roots and left on overnight before washing it out.
How to Use Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is so versatile. Because it has a high smoke point (above 500 degrees F), it is a good oil for cooking and is not damaged at elevated temperatures.
It can also be used on salads as a flavorful dressing. (See recipe below.) Plus it helps to absorb the goodness of all of the vegetables and salad toppings.
For skin, apply it alone as a moisturizer to any dry patches or as a nightly face serum.
* Look for organic, extra virgin, unrefined and cold-pressed avocado oil to ensure you're getting the highest quality.
Palsdottir, Hrefna. "9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Avocado Oil," 6 April 2016, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-avocado-oil-benefits.
"Why Avocado Oil Got Rx Status in France," 2017, Dr. Axe, https://draxe.com/avocado-oil/. (No longer available.)
"Avocado Oil Benefits: Healthier Than Coconut Oil?" 6 October 2017, Wellness Mama, https://wellnessmama.com/123677/avocado-oil-benefits/.
Taylor, Janice. "10 Amazing Avocado Oil Benefits for Your Health & Beauty," 28 April 2015, http://www.naturallivingideas.com/avocado-oil-benefits/.
Diorio, Brianna. "10 Health Benefits of Avocado Oil + 6 Bonus Ways to Use It," 2017, http://www.paleoplan.com/2017/07-31/avocado-oil/.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Liztalton from Washington on November 15, 2017:
While I don't use avocado oil for oil pulling, I do use coconut oil. I swear by the benefits of oil pulling. Thank you for the information. I think I'll switch from coconut oil to avocado oil for my daily oil pulling!
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 15, 2017:
These are all great benefits. Thanks for doing the research and sharing. I find it interesting that avocado supplies magnesium.