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Avocados can keep you young

Lianzi Fields
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Antioxidant properties of avocados
Image: Thinkstock

Pile on your guacamole, because in the war against disease and ageing, avocados may be your best ally.

New research on the creamy green fruit (yes it's a fruit!) has shown that active ingredients in avocado oil can fight free radicals in a way that other fruit and vegetables can't, reports the UK's Daily Mail.

Gallery: Best avocado recipes

Free radicals are the cell-damaging molecules produced by the body that are thought to contribute to the onset of many degenerative diseases including cancer, Alzheimer's and heart disease, as well contributing to early ageing.

Mitochondria, or the "power house" regions of the cell that convert food into energy, are especially prone to free radical damage, which can be eliminated with the administration of antioxidants, most commonly through diet.

The Mexican researchers say fruit and vegetables like tomatoes and carrots possess antioxidant properties, but don't work quite like avocados.

"The problem is that the antioxidants in [other] substances are unable to enter mitochondria," researcher Christian Cortes-Rojo told the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at their annual conference.

"So free radicals go on damaging mitochondria, causing energy production to stop and the cell to collapse and die.

"An analogy would be that, during an oil spill, if we cleaned only the spilled oil instead of fixing the perforation where oil is escaping, then the oil would go on spilling, and fish would die anyway."

In pics: Wonder foods

Free radicals are naturally produced by the body as it metabolises food, but factors such as pollution, smoking and radiation may trigger increased production of free radicals that harm the body's cell membranes, proteins and DNA.

When tested on yeast cells, avocado oil has the ability to stand up to concentrated exposure to iron — an element that catalyses the production of free radicals, the researchers found.

"We'll need to confirm that what has been observed in yeasts could occur in higher organisms, such as humans," said Cortes-Rojo, from the University Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo in Mexico.

Cortes-Rojo also noted that the composition of avocado oil is similar to olive oil which is believed to be a contributing factor for low levels of chronic disease in some Mediterranean countries.

Your say: What's your favourite way to use avocado?

Watch: Curtis Stone make Basa fish cakes with tomato and avocado salsa

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