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Medicinal compounds found in the shell of avocado seeds

Avocado seed shells "contain medicinal compounds that could be used to treat cancer, heart disease and other diseases," according to a new scientific study published on 21 August 2017.

The work, presented at the 254th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), held in Washington, assures that avocado seed shells could also be used in cosmetics and perfumery, among other sectors.

"Avocado seed shells, which most people consider just waste, may actually be a jewel of great value, because the medicinal compounds they contain could be used to treat cancer, heart disease and other diseases," stated Debasish Bandyopadhyay, of the Department of Chemistry of the University of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley.

According to the researcher, the results of the work "also suggest that the seed shells have a potential use in chemicals used in plastics and other industrial products."

This is the first study to highlight the value of avocado seed shells, which it describes as a "gold mine," because of the abundance of chemical compounds they contain which had yet to be identified.

For their research, scientists ground around 300 dried avocado seed shells, resulting in nearly 600 grams of powder processed to get about three teaspoons of oil and about 30 grams of wax.

Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis, the scientific team found 116 compounds in the oil and 16 in the seed shell wax, many of which had not been detected in the seeds themselves.

The list of components of the oil included behenyl alcohol, a fatty alcohol also known as docosanol, used in the manufacture of antiviral drugs, especially for the treatment of cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus.

They also found heptacosan, a substance that "could inhibit the growth of tumour cells," as well as dodecanoic acid, which boosts the presence of high-density lipoproteins, which carry cholesterol from body tissues to the liver and, as a result, could reduce the risk of atherosclerosis," added the researchers.

In the wax they detected benzyl and butyl phthalate, a plasticizer used to improve the flexibility of numerous synthetic products, from shower curtains to medical devices; Bis (2-butoxyethyl) phthalate, which is used in cosmetics, and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), which is a food additive.

It is estimated that around 5 million tonnes of avocados are produced per year, and only some manufacturers extract oils for human consumption from the seeds, but in all cases, they remove the shell that surrounds them before processing.

Bandyopadhyay assured they plan to modify several of these natural compounds found in the shells so they can be used to create drugs with fewer side effects.

Source: EFE

Publication date: 8/23/2017


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