Avocado Seed: Unsafe to Eat or the New Super-Seed?

March 26, 2018
Avocado seed - Dr. Axe

The avocado has been all the rage lately with every type of avocado toast you can imagine being found at nearby cafes. Additionally, avocados offer the benefits of healthy fat — something keto diet fans crave. But what about the avocado seed? Before you toss that seed, you may want to tune in to what it can do for you, such as providing amazing antioxidants, possibly helping reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s and lowering pain from toothaches. It also may aid in the treatment of diabetes, constipation and diarrhea, and arthritis — not to mention its antifungal properties, collagen benefits, cholesterol-lowering effects and more — making it the latest and greatest super-seed.

There is another side to this story that you need to consider, however. Are avocado seeds edible? The California Avocado Commission specifically states that there is not enough data to know just how good the avocado seed is for you. Basically, it recommends avoiding it for now and suggests that sticking with the amazing nutrition found in the avocado flesh is a far better choice. (1)

On the other hand, research is being conducted. One study indicates that evidence leans on the side of it being a healthy alternative to consume and use with cosmetics. (2) Below I share what I have found so that you can decide for yourself, but always take precautions when trying anything new or anything that has not been supported by enough data prior to consuming. (3)


Potential Avocado Seed Benefits

1. Show Promising Antitumor Activity

According to the Leung’s Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients, the avocado seed contains biscatechin, a condensed flavanol. One study isolated biscatechin from avocado seeds and tested in mice and rats. The biscatechin was shown in vitro to have antimicrobial activity and antitumor effects on the animals. (4)

Another study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine noted catechin as a flavanol that offers various health benefits, such as neuroprotection, antioxidation, antitumor and antihepatitis characteristics. The falvanol shows that is is capable of suppresses inflammation in possible cancerous cells. (5

2. Great Antioxidant Source

Did you know that the avocado seed is a great antioxidant? According to a study performed at the National University of Singapore, the avocado seed offers more antioxidant activity than some more commonly eaten fruit parts. In fact, the study shares that the seeds may actually contain more than 70 percent of the antioxidants found in the entire fruit. That makes the avocado seed a powerful antioxidant resource. (6

3. May Help Patients with Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain and is considered one of the most neurodegenerative diseases on the planet. Many studies have been conducted to review the phytochemical contents of the avocado seed.

An evaluation published in the Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology showed the evidence of saponins, alkaloids and terpenoids in the extracts of the avocado seed. According to the researchers, these phytochemicals may offer a natural approach to helping manage the affects of Alzheimer’s disease, concluding “The anti-cholinesterase and antioxidant activities of avocado leaf and seed could be linked to their phytoconstituents and might be the possible mechanisms underlying their use as a cheap and natural treatment/management of AD. However, these extracts should be further investigated in vivo.” (7)

4. Can Help Balance Cholesterol Levels

The avocado seed is one of the top high-fiber foods on the planet, and we know fiber can help balance cholesterol levels. That may be why research shows avocado seeds can lower cholesterol.

Research from Penn State University’s Department of Food Science details the benefits the avocado seed has on cardiovascular health, noting: (8)

avocado seeds may improve hypercholesterolemia, and be useful in the treatment of hypertension, inflammatory conditions and diabetes. Seeds have also been found to possess insecticidal, fungicidal, and anti-microbial activities.

5. Works as a Natural Food Dye

Since conventional food coloring and food dyes contain chemical-based ingredients, it is best to go with natural options. You may have heard of beets being used to create a reddish color, for example.

Research has discovered that when crushed and blended with water, the avocado seed develops an orange color. (9)

This is great news since so many foods, especially food for children, are loaded with toxic dyes. Specifically, the numbered colors FD&C blues #1 and #2, green #3, red #3; and yellows #5 and #6 are synthetic or artificial colors. These colors are made from coal tar or petroleum and can cause all sorts of problems for your health, such as allergies, asthma, hyperactivity and cancer. In fact, artificial food dyes have been banned in the U.K. (10)

6. May Help Eliminate Microbial Growth

The residue of the seed of the avocado is rich in polyphenols, making the seeds powerful antioxidants and antimicrobials. Among the polyphenols are catechin, epicatechin, and chlorogenic and protocatechuic acid. This residue has been applied to pork burgers in studies, showing the residue of the avocado seed to be effective in preventing oxidation and microbial growth.

Another study showed the effects that ground avocado has on meat. For a period of eight days, ground beef was observed containing 0.5 percent seed powder and 0.1 percent of lyophilized extract. Little oxidation occurred meaning the protection was higher than 90 percent. To note, the study indicates that avocado oil, added directly to the pork burgers, had a similar effect. (11

 

Avocado seed pros and cons - Dr. Axe

 


Avocado Seeds vs. Other Seeds

While the debate is still out about whether eating ground avocado seed is a good choice, it has been compared to the extraction process of the phenolic compounds from strawberries, apple pulp and the residues of chestnuts. But you need to be cautious when it comes to seeds since not all seeds are safe to eat. Apricot seeds and peach seeds contain a cyanide called amygdalin. And while it would probably take a lot to get sick, it is best to stay on the safe side when it comes to seeds or any food if you are not sure.


How to Use Avocado Seed and Where to Find It

Avocados can be found at most grocery stores. I recommend making sure the avocado is ripe. A ripe avocado is a bit soft yet still firm. If it feels like it might be mushy, it is probably too ripe. Whether that affects the nutritional value of the seed is not clear, but to benefit from the creamy, delicious avocado too, purchase a ripe one or one that is nearing the ripening stage and allow it to sit on the counter or in the fridge until ready.

Once you have the perfect avocado, wash it, then using a chef’s knife slice lengthwise around the avocado. You should be able to gently twist the two halves apart. Remove the seed from the avocado. To do this, use the chef’s knife and gently but firmly tap the heel of the blade of the knife right into the seed. It will catch. Then, give it a little twist. The seed should come right out.

In order to eat the avocado seed, it needs to be ground up into a powder. To do this, you can smash it with a mallet. Just put it in a thick plastic bag first. Another option is to dry it out. To dry it out, put it in the oven for a couple of hours at around 250 degrees. Next, take it out of the oven and remove the outer skin. Use an oven mitt to protect you from the heat of the avocado seed.

Now that you have dried it out, press on it with the back of a thick knife blade to split the pit in two. Dice the pit halves and toss into a high-powered blender. Pulse or grind until it has reached the consistency of a powder. You can also use a cheese grater, spice grinder, or heavy mortar and pestle. Store in a sealed container in your refrigerator.

Now that you have this nutritious powder, what do you do with it? Since it is bitter due to the tannins it contains, using it with other ingredients, such as a banana, pineapple and spinach, to make a smoothie may be the best way. However, you can sprinkle it on your morning eggs or put it in soup or on a salad. Another option is to put the powder into capsules, which can be found at health food stores, and consume as a supplement.


Avocado Seed Recipe

Avocado Seed Power Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1–1¼ cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds, soaked in 3 tablespoons of water for about 10 minutes
  • ½ teaspoon ground avocado
  • 1 scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder (preferably from bone broth)
  • 1 frozen banana- small
  • ice (optional*)
  • ¼ cup water, if needed for a thinner consistency

Directions:

  1. Add contents into a high-powered blender, and blend until well-combined.

Avocado Seed History

Let’s start with learning a little about the avocado tree. The avocado tree originated in southern Mexico and Columbia around 7,000 years ago. The Aztecs and Incas presented it to the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century, and by the early 1800s, the avocado tree had spread throughout southern Europe, the Hawaiian Islands, Africa and Southeast Asia.

The avocado tree made way to the United States in 1833 by Judge Henry Perrine, who had the trees sent from Mexico to Florida. It was Dr. Thomas White of the California State Agricultural Society who had the first avocado tree brought in from Nicaragua to Los Angeles in 1856. The California avocado industry was founded in the early 1870s when trees in Santa Barbara, which had been imported from Mexico, began to bear fruit. Hass is probably the most familiar name of the avocado and for good reason. It was Rudolph Hass who developed the Hass variety in 1932. By grafting seedlings onto existing trees that had previously produced the Lyon variety, he was able to create a new variety. (12)

Now, where does the avocado seed come into all this? The avocado seed seems to be a newer discovery which is why there isn’t much in the way of research. According to Purdue University, when the seed is cut in pieces, roasted and pulverized, it can be consumed to help overcome diarrhea and dysentery. The powdered form of the seed may help relieve dandruff, and a piece of the seed placed into a tooth cavity could eliminate a toothache. And because the milk of the avocado seed turns a bit red when exposed to air, it can be used as a topical ointment or rubefacient — to redden the cheeks by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation. (13, 14)

The seed contains a milky fluid similar in odor and taste of the almond. It turns red once exposed to air due to its tannin content; however, some say the liquid is not edible. This red-brown or blackish “ink”  was used to write many documents during the Spanish Conquest — documents that are now preserved in the archives of Popayan. The ink of the avocado seed has also been used to mark cotton and linen textiles.   


Precautions: Is It Safe to Eat Avocado Seed?

Is it safe to eat the avocado seed? The California Avocado Commission says eating the flesh is great, but the seed — not so much. It claims that there simply is not enough research as noted in a 2013 research study by Pennsylvania State University. The university also indicated that “the safety of the various extracts of the avocado seeds must be assessed in order to more fully estimate the usefulness of this resource.”

A good rule of thumb is to avoid anything new or lacking research, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have any health conditions. Consult with a doctor for further information. The good news is the research is coming, and early indications are it has benefits and could be promising if further studies confirm this.


Final Thoughts on Avocado Seed

Is the avocado seed the new super-seed? Maybe, but since there is not enough substantial evidence to prove this, I recommend having small amounts or avoiding altogether. Be aware of how you feel upon consumption, and check with a doctor if you have any concerns.

The good news is the avocado seed has some researched benefits, including:

  • promising antitumor activity
  • great antioxidant source
  • may help patients with Alzheimer’s
  • balancing cholesterol levels
  • natural food dye
  • antimicrobial effects

Read Next: Why Avocado Oil Got Rx Status in France


From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can affect more. Because Leaky Gut is so common, and such an enigma, I’m offering a free webinar on all things leaky gut. Click here to learn more about the webinar.

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34 Comments

  1. Joyce on

    LOVED the Avocado seed article: Our family has used laetrile-B17- from peach and apricot pits for more than 50 years. Yes, the AMA outlawed it, so sometimes it was bought in a clandestine manner.
    Proof: someone in the generation above us had leukemia for more than 45 years and passed at age 77. Of course, laetrile was not the only healthy practice. No white flours, sugars, etc.
    This generation started with 3 growths in prostate. 2 years later, 2 of them are gone and the last one much smaller. The doctors behaved very badly about his refusal to follow the surgery/ chemo path. He had to throw a fit to get tests to reveal the improvements. ( he’s a former politician and certified health insurance broker. This helped.)
    We are currently using it with a 3rd generation with breast cancer. Unfortunately, we discovered late that she carries that gene… We are still fighting holistically.
    Last point: none of these people lived in the same state/ region, so environmental issues are not a causative factor– as far as we can tell.
    Since the avocado pit is under the radar, we will investigate it for all in our family.
    THANKS, Dr. Axe Keep on!

    Reply
    • Khulan on

      WOW. I would love to know the dosage of your apricot seed for adult and children. I really did not know the seeds were poisonous. So I have been eating the pulp and seeds altogether. So has my 2 yr old until recently. I have read adult can eat up to 60 seeds and any child can die just by eating one apricot seed. Please reply

      Reply
    • Tim on

      We grow organic hass in Colombia and have always been interested in finding uses for the seed but have been afraid to try it because of warnings about potential risks. I think we will start trying to consume it in different ways as well because of the potential benefits. I have type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure and dont like taking pills. I follow a strict diet but it is still hard to control. Thank you for posting this.

      Reply
      • r on

        I took a pit (seed) and crushed it in the blender and added it to my plate of beet greens with of course vinegar and all , so i seem fine and nothing happened to me.. Figured couldn’t hurt to try .. Besides not like the Gov is gonna tell you it is healthy anyway

      • Isabel Maria Zelkas on

        Look into time restricted feeding with dr sutchin panda. It is a fascinating concept and might be something for you to help fighting diabetes without pills!

  2. Helen Levin on

    Hi Dr. Axe, Re Avocado Seeds, A Point That Needs to Be Addressed:

    You cite that the avocado seed for its amygdalin (like many seeds and nuts containing same) as a “con”.
    According to alternative, complementary protocols for anti cancer treatments, amygdalin is considered an important component. So I ask:
    Why specifically do you consider amygdalin a “con,” and not a “pro” substance on your list?

    Reply
  3. Catherine on

    Your recipe calls for a handful of raw spinach, but raw spinach sequesters calcium and long term consumption raw spinach, even baby spinach, will cause stones. Perhaps kale is a better ingredient.

    Reply
  4. Karen Mellos on

    I’ve been seeing evidence of Lutien and another Natural ingredient was by the Aborigeness as a cure for eye disease. Have you any info on natural ingredients to
    Halt and or cure eye disorders?

    Reply
  5. Lynne on

    I was under the impression, by many other sources, that the amygdalin in the apricot seed, also known as B17, can cure cancer. I doubt, seriously, that it has enough arsenic in it to kill a fly. The chicken you eat, probably on a pretty regular basis, also has arsenic in it, as well as apple juice. I’ve, personally eaten apricot seeds in my smoothies after I workout and have had absolutely no ill effects from it. I, also, look a lot younger than most my age! If I had to bet on it, I would say that the avocado seed is perfectly healthy unless you’re allergic to avocado.

    Reply
    • Khulan on

      Hi,

      My son niw 3 yr old ate apricot seed probably 5 seed in a row average almost daily in February. Because I only knew the pro and started eating it couple of years ago that made me think he can eat too. Luckily both of us are alive today. Can you please share your dosage in the smoothie?

      Reply
  6. Ac on

    I cannot say enough about how appreciative I am for the wealth of information you, and your contributors bring ALL THE TIME Dr. Axe! God has truly used you in my journey to improve my, and my family’s health. Lol, sometimes you answer my questions just as they come to me that very day…scary! I encourage you to keep up the good work, bc you truly are blessing so many people. I tell everyone I know about you..i think my Pcp is getting jealous!? lol, many blessings and thanks to you Dr. Axe!

    Reply
  7. Rafael on

    Dr. Axe!

    I’ve been consuming raw avocado seeds a while now. Sometimes pretty often.
    I heard it was considered a powerful Qi food. I use a high powered blender to pulverize it. Next time I’ll try your suggestion to dry it out first.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  8. cis on

    Who writes these articles? I am guessing a ghost writer (from a few failings here and there). It should be indicated.

    I was disappointed the article just put “amygdalin” in the “cons” column without explaining more about it. Joyce below does a better job at explaining traditional uses for it.
    Bitter (and sweet) apricot seeds have been traditionally used against cancer. Just a few a day, mind you. You need to know what you are doing.

    This article explains why cancer cells are attracted to laetrile more than others:
    https://www.naturalnews.com/031336_laetrile_cancer_cells.html

    For those who are worried about the cyanide, many of you are paying to consume cyanocobalamin in your vitamin pills nd happy to do so! It depends on the form and on the quantity too…

    I heard of a doctor in Italy was using this approach 10 years ago. Of course, sugar avoidance and a healthy diet is essential too.

    I wish my dad had tried apricot seeds (more abundant than avocadoes where he lived) instead of the radio and chemotherapy that killed him (and were given to him even though there was no hope of them helping him). He went in for chemo the first time and came out in a wheelchair. He (my strong and previously well-built dad) never walked again.

    We are just pawns in the hands of the big pharma industry, making them money. Go the health-promoting way! Think with your own brain…

    Reply
  9. Robert on

    Dr. Axe,
    Has there been any more research on the avacato seed that confirms it’s safety to be consumed since your last article?

    Reply
    • Lynne Stevens on

      YES! Inquiring minds want to know! I would think that if you take the avocado seed powder in small amounts it won’t hurt you but like anything in moderation if it has so many great healthy benefits for you.

      Reply
  10. Brittany Sowers on

    Hello everyone,

    I would like to share a short testimony.
    So, I recently started eating avocados.
    EVERY SINGLE TIME I see the avocado seed, I feel like it is of significance in some way.
    When I throw away the seed, I feel like it could have been very useful for my body.
    So, now reading this, I may try to add it to my diet.
    Also, aside from avocados, I want to speak briefly about Jesus.
    Jesus loves you and want you to love him back!
    If you feel like something is missing from your life, the TRUTH is JESUS.
    Jesus is the WAY. Jesus is everlasting LIFE!
    I would LOVE to answer any questions one may have about Jesus or God or anything pertaining to Heavenly things.
    Please contact me at [email protected]
    Blessings!

    Reply
  11. Roberto on

    *How to make a lovely avocado kernel infusion*

    1. Remove the pulp of two avocados.
    2. Wash the kernels and dry it with a tea/paper towel.
    3. Grate them finely.
    4. Place the finely grated avocado in to a hot-water-proof recipient. Not plastic!
    5. Pour 1.5L boiling water over it and stir 4,5 times. The water will become beautifully coloured: pinkish ochre-ish.
    6. Leave it to cool.
    7. Sieve it.
    (8. The roughage can be added/mixed to soups and any other foods). DO NOT THROW IT AWAY.
    9. Drink to pleasure warm or cold.
    10. Ideally drink it natural. The taste is almost bland. No surprise!
    11. If you *really* want add a teaspoon of Manuca honey.
    Enjoy your infusion ☺

    Reply
  12. Chris J. Robert on

    After eating Avocado seeds for a couple months. I noticed my penis grew 2 inches longer. Which is a big achievement since I started with barely 4 inches. My girlfriend is happy and so is my right hand. Did I mention I’m 53 years old too! Yeah baby!

    Reply
  13. Gary Kunselman on

    I did the avocado in grain blender – put it in plastic container that was used for condiments; now the “meal” *(ground avocado seed) has a pinkish tint to the meal? Is that normal?

    Reply
  14. Samantha on

    I use the Avocado seed powder in my food. I used to have pain in my fingers from athritis, since I started taking the Avo seed powder my fingers dont hurt anymore.

    Reply

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