It seems I’ve been doing it wrong all this time! I’ve been hacking out the most important part and dumping it: so many years of utter waste! A friend once told me he watched a group of tourists eating mangosteen for the first time at our famous Newton Circus hawker centre, but the fruitseller had not told them how to eat the fruit, and they were biting into each one as if eating an apple, flashing purple-stained grimaces with each awful mouthful. I feel a little like one of those tourists.
Apparently, the most nutritious part of an avocado is its seed, which is edible! If an avocado (flesh) is a super-food, then its seed is an extra-super-duper-food. And here are some of the reasons – which I’ve just found out – why this is so.
Firstly, the avocado seed is packed with soluble fibres. It’s reported to contain the highest amount of soluble fibre in the world for its size. So this little fella is punching supremely well about its weight in this category. What the fibres do is lower cholesterol levels. One theory why it’s so effective is that the fibres bind cholesterol before it can be absorbed into our blood system. So for anyone who’s watching their cholesterol levels, this may be some exciting knowledge.
Secondly, avocado seeds are super rich in antioxidants. Avocado is an antioxidant superhero, but in fact 70% of an avocado’s antioxidants are found in its seed. Many read “antioxidant” tagged to a product and are immediately sold, no further questions need be asked. I’d like to hold back a step though and list some of the benefits antioxidants have for us:
- Acts against plaque buildup, in turn decreasing the risks of stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases
- Strengthens the immune system, neutralises free radicals in our body, and so reduces the incidences of a variety of illnesses (eg. common colds, flu, etc), and obesity
- Boosts collagen production, thus keeping skin – our body’s largest organ – firm and youthful; improves flexibility, thus decreasing risks of joint and muscle injuries, and also helps preserve youth-like power and strength.
Thirdly, evidence from medical and nutrition research continues emerging of the avocado seed’s ability to help us fend off deadly diseases. For example, avocado seeds contain polyphenols, which are micronutrients shown to have a role in the prevention of degenerative diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The seed also contains flavonols, which are phytochemical compounds known to be powerful antioxidants that keep cancer at bay by preventing or reducing tumour growth. Some studies have shown that avocado fruit and seed extract caused luekemia cells to self-destuct, and that avocatin B found in avocado seed extract was effective in counteracting acute myeloid leukemia cells.
Lastly, avocado seed extract has been shown to lower blood glucose, curbing appetite (read: preventing the urge to snack in between meals!) by making you feel full for a longer period of time, thus helping to maintain a healthy body weight.
One way to eat avocado seed is to blend it directly in a smoothie together with other ingredients like bananas, pineapple, yoghurt, honey, and so on. The choice of ingredients to mix is limited by your own tastes and imagination. But the requirement is to use a powerful blender (eg. a Vitamix, etc), so as not to ruin your regular blender. If you get onto YouTube, you’ll find many videos to give you countless ideas and tips for avocado-seed-smoothie-recipes.
Another way is to grind the avocado seed into a powder. You can put a dried seed in a bag, wrap securely with a cloth, and bash it with a mallet or meat tenderiser. Or try the “traditional way” of using a mortar and pestle.
Once you have the powdered avocado seed, you can add it to sauces, salad dressings, or take it with fruits (eg. a dip for sliced guava instead of the popular but less healthy preserved plum powder, perhaps?). It has a bitter aftertaste – due to its tannin content – so you may want to use some sweetener with it, like honey or gula malaka (sedap!). If you get really into it, you could even carry your own supply of avocado seed power around, and sprinkle it onto food like you would a seasoning such as crispy fried shallots, pepper and salt.
I can think of so many local favourites which would be avocado-seed-powder-friendly, such as pohpiah, laksa, mee siam, mee rebus, satay (in the peanut sauce), or in the curry for prata… Or desserts like ice-kachang, chendol, bur-bur-cha-cha, pulut hitam, tao suan… Then I can indulge in these local favourites whole-heartedly without worrying too much about their unhealthy reputation or lack of quality nutrition, just by adding a sprinkle of this “miracle” powder.
And here’s one more bit of trivia on the wonderful avocado seed – for the adventurous and creative, and those gifted in art and craft – you can use avocado seed powder as a dye for fabric. With its natural pink hue, its sure to add a beautiful touch to your masterpiece (and whenever you feel like a quick boost of nutrition, just suck on your sleeve! Ok, that’s a joke, I’m serious).
So, this precious thing that I, and most people, have been throwing away for years, is actually an antioxidant powerhouse, good for the heart, immune system, preserving youthfulness, helping to maintain a healthy body weight, and can also be used for art and craft – talk about having value!
Every week we supply hundreds and hundreds of Kgs of avocados to cruise ships. And from now on, we’ll do so with the added knowledge of the miracle that’s hiding inside each one of them. No more throwing the baby out with the bath water! Have a good week everyone!