Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Avocado Oil
Unlike most other fruits, itâ€™s rich in healthy fats and is often used to produce avocado oil. Though not as well known as olive oil, this oil is just as delicious.
Avocado oil also has numerous health benefits, largely related to its content of antioxidants and healthy fats.
Here are 8 evidence-based health benefits of avocado oil.
1. Rich in oleic acid, a very healthy fat
Avocado oil is the natural oil pressed from the pulp of an avocado. Almost 70% of avocado oil consists of heart-healthy oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid (1, 2, 3).
This fatty acid is also the main component of olive oil and is believed to be partly responsible for its health benefits. Additionally, around 12% of avocado oil is saturated fat, and about 13% is polyunsaturated fat (1, 2, 3).
Avocado oil has a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (13: 1), and we usually want around 3: 1 or 2: 1 for better health. But this shouldnâ€™t be a concern, because the total amount of omega-6 is relatively small.
Most research suggests that a diet rich in unsaturated fats is beneficial for health and may reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and dementia (2, 4).
The most abundant fatty acid in avocado oil is oleic acid, a fatty acid that provides numerous health benefits.
2. Reduces cholesterol and improves heart health
Avocado oil is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, which are linked with better heart health (5).
In a small crossover study in 13 subjects, participants were first given either a control meal using butter (25 grams of saturated fat) or a test meal (25 grams of unsaturated fat) with avocado oil (6).
Over a 240-minute post-meal period, blood samples showed that the test-meal group had significantly lower levels of triglycerides, total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, inflammatory cytokines, and blood sugar compared with the control group (6).
One rat study compared avocado oil to losartan, a blood pressure medication, for 45 days. It found that avocado oil reduced diastolic and systolic blood pressure by 21.2% and 15.5%, respectively, and had similar effects to losartan in reducing blood pressure (7).
Another rat study found that avocado oil was effective in reducing levels of triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol and did not affect HDL (good) cholesterol. This was comparable to olive oil, another heart-healthy oil (8).
While these results are promising, larger human clinical trials are still needed.
A few studies in humans and animals suggest that avocado oil may benefit heart health by reducing blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
3. High in lutein, an antioxidant that has benefits for the eyes
Avocado and its oil are relatively good sources of lutein, a carotenoid and antioxidant thatâ€™s naturally found in your eyes (9, 10).
Research has shown that a diet rich in lutein and another carotenoid called zeaxanthin is essential for eye health and may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, which are common age-related eye diseases (11, 12).
Since your body doesnâ€™t produce lutein on its own, you must obtain it from your diet. Fortunately, adding avocado and avocado oil to your diet is a great and easy way to support your eye health (13, 14).
Lutein is a carotenoid found in avocado oil. This nutrient improves eye health and may lower the risk of age-related eye diseases.
4. Enhances the absorption of important nutrients
Some nutrients need to be combined with fat to allow your body to absorb them, such as the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K (15).
In particular, carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are poorly absorbed without fat. Unfortunately, many fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids, such as watermelon and tomatoes, are low in fat (15, 16).
Therefore, adding avocado oil or another type of fat to your meal may help you better absorb these nutrients.
One small study found that adding avocado oil to a salad with carrots, romaine lettuce, and spinach increased the absorption of carotenoids. The increase was substantial â€” 4.3- to 17.4-fold â€” when compared with a salad without fat (17).
Other studies have shown that olive oil, which has a very similar oleic acid content to avocado oil, is highly effective in increasing the bioavailability of carotenoids (18, 19).
Therefore, adding avocado oil to a salad, marinade, or other dish may help your body absorb more nutrients.
There is good reason to include a healthy fat source like avocado oil when eating vegetables, as it may increase the absorption of carotenoid antioxidants up to 17-fold.
5. May reduce symptoms of arthritis
Arthritis is a very common disease that involves painful inflammation of the joints. It affects millions of people worldwide (20).
While there are many types of arthritis, the most common type is osteoarthritis, which is associated with the breakdown of cartilage in the joints (20, 21).
Numerous studies have found that extracts from avocado and soybean oil, called avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU), may reduce the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis (22, 23, 24).
In particular, ASU seems to be beneficial for people who have hip and knee osteoarthritis (22, 25).
You can find ASU supplements in most wellness stores and online. But be sure to speak with a healthcare professional to make sure itâ€™s right for you.
Multiple studies have reported that avocado/soybean unsaponifiables â€” a combination of avocado and soybean oil extracts â€” may relieve pain in those with hip and knee osteoarthritis.
6. Improves skin and enhances wound healing
Avocado oil is rich in fatty acids and nutrients that may benefit your skin. Itâ€™s a good source of vitamins A and E, which are linked to skin membrane health (26).
One study in 24 people with plaque psoriasis found that a cream containing avocado oil (20%) and vitamin B12 improved symptoms of psoriasis after 12 weeks of treatment (27).
Other studies in humans and animals have also shown benefits to using avocado oil in psoriasis treatment and wound healing (28, 29).
That said, most of the studies used avocado oil in conjunction with other ingredients, such as B12 and moisturizing agents, so itâ€™s difficult to say whether avocado oil by itself would result in similar findings.
In addition to topical application, consuming a diet rich in unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins A and E, and antioxidants is associated with healthier skin (30, 31, 32).
Itâ€™s best to avoid putting avocado oil directly on any open wounds. Instead, buy products containing avocado oil from reputable companies.
Avocado is high in fatty acids and antioxidants that promote wound healing and overall skin health. Some studies have shown that applying a cream containing avocado oil (20%) and vitamin B12 led to significant improvements in psoriasis symptoms.
7. Rich in antioxidants
A diet rich in antioxidants helps fight free radicals, which are unstable compounds that can damage cells over time. When an imbalance occurs, this can lead to oxidative stress and may contribute to conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer (33, 34).
By donating an electron to free radicals, antioxidants can neutralize them, preventing them from causing harm (33, 34, 35, 36).
Fortunately, avocado oil contains a large number of antioxidants to benefit your health, such as carotenoids, tocopherols (forms of vitamin E), and various plant sterols (2, 4).
Avocado oil is rich in disease-fighting free radicals such as carotenoids, tocopherols, and plant sterols. Consuming avocado oil and other antioxidant-rich foods can help reduce your risk of chronic disease.
8. Very easy to use
Though this is not technically a health benefit, avocado oil is highly versatile and easy to incorporate into your diet.
For example, you can consume it cold, but itâ€™s also a safe and healthy cooking oil because its fatty acids are stable at high heat (up to about 520Â°F or 271Â°C) (37).
Here are a few ways to add avocado oil to your diet:
- Add a tablespoon to a smoothie.
- Drizzle it over a salad.
- Use it as a marinade for grilling meat.
- Include it when baking.
- Use it in homemade mayo.
- Drizzle it over vegetables before roasting.
- Top hummus off with it.
- Drizzle it over cold soups such as gazpacho.
Avocado oil is versatile and easy to use. You can add it cold to salads or smoothies, and itâ€™s great for cooking, grilling, and baking.
The bottom line
Avocado oil is delicious, nutritious, and easy to use.
Itâ€™s rich in oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat), polyunsaturated fats, carotenoids, and other antioxidant-rich nutrients that are linked to improved heart, skin, and eye health.
You can easily add it to your diet in a salad, as part of a dip or marinade, or as a replacement for most other plant oils.
If youâ€™re looking to switch things up, give avocado oil a try.
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