Whole and halved avocado, sliced avocado half, knife, parsley, napkin on a wooden boards background

by Paul Fassa
Health Impact News

Did you know that avocados are technically fruits, specifically single seed berries, and not vegetables?

In addition to the wide array of nutrients avocados offer, they contain an anti-cancer compound that is beyond preventative with certain cancers. It’s called Avocatin B, and it has been extracted to undergo trials for targeting certain cancer stem cells. 

There are many other health benefits offered by avocados that make it a true superfood.

Avocado’s Cancer Resisting Ability

Professor Paul Spagnuolo of the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada isolated a lipid called avocatin B from avocado and discovered that it is effective against a type of leukemia that’s a killer, acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

AML, also known as acute myelocytic leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia, and acute non-lymphocytic leukemia, is a form of blood cancer which is most common in older people. About 90 percent diagnosed die within five years.

Professor Spagnuolo and his colleagues discovered Avocatin B’s efficacy for eliminating cancer cells was unique. It targeted cancer stem cells without disrupting healthy non-cancerous cells. 

One major reason for conventional oncology’s dismal record of cancers recurring after claimed remissions is due to cancer’s stem cells left intact while damaging and destroying normal cells.

Spagnuolo stated in a University of Waterloo newspaper interview: 

The stem cell is really the cell that drives the disease. The stem cell is largely responsible for the disease developing and it’s the reason why so many patients with leukemia relapse. (Source)

Professor Spagnuolo and his academic research team tested Avocatin B’s efficacy in an in vitro study conducted a few years ago. Their study paper, Targeting Mitochondria with Avocatin B Induces Selective Leukemia Cell Death was published mid-2015.

So why aren’t there any Avocatin B supplements available to those of us who do our best to maintain our health using supplements within our financial means from natural sources? 

The professor had teamed with Canada’s Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) for the financial backing necessary to pursue animal and human clinical trials using the molecule he synthesized and patented to mimic natural Avocatin B.

Professor Spagnuola explained his rationale for pursuing avocado’s unique cancer resisting compound as a pharmaceutical drug:

Extracts are less refined. The contents of an extract can vary from plant to plant and year to year, depending on lots of factors – on the soil, the location, the amount of sunlight, the rain.

Evaluating a nutraceutical as a potential clinical drug requires in-depth evaluation at the molecular level.

This is critical to safely translating our lab work into a reliable drug that could be used in oncology clinics. (Source)

Very rational indeed. But the bottom line is as a primary patent holder, the professor looks to gain financially a few years down the line along with CCRM.

It will be years before it’s final approval as an expensive pharmaceutical drug for this particular cancer, which can ultimately lead to other “off label” applications. 

In almost all cases, drugs chemically synthesized to mimic active ingredients from plant sources will have some level of adverse side effects, because they are not natural and not balanced with other compounds that are part of the plant. That’s why chemically produced drugs have to be tested for safety 

But the fact that the natural version of Avocatin B is unique to avocados should be a calling to consume them often for preventing cancerous stem cells from blooming into cancerous tissue tumors or contaminating blood as leukemia.  

Other Findings on Avocado’s Cancer-Fighting Aspects

Naturapath Farrah Agustin-Bunch, MD, cites a few studies on avocado’s cancer-combating attributes on her website.

She cited a study at UCLA which discovered that lutein as part of the whole avocado was 60 percent more effective at fighting prostate cancer than lutein alone. And she mentioned a Chinese study that showed higher serum levels of lutein were connected with a 51% reduction in breast cancer risk.

Another study mentioned that involved 209 men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer and 226 cancer-free men in Jamaica.

This study showed avocados high monosaturated fatty acid content can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. (Source)

Avocado’s Nutritional Power as a Plant-Based Fatty Food

There are many nutritional aspects most aren’t aware of. For example, avocados provide all 18 essential amino acids needed by a body to create complete proteins.  

Assembling proteins from amino acids reduces the need for pancreatic proteolytic enzymes that are used to break down whole proteins into the amino acids the body needs. 

These same enzymes also break open cancer cell walls to make their destruction easier. So it’s good to have them around as part of your internal cancer-fighting arsenal. (Source)

Avocados are high in monounsaturated fatty acids similar to olive oil, including heart-healthy oleic fatty acid. 

Avocados are a rare plant source of omega-3 fatty acids as well. We need to consume many omega-3 fatty acid foods to prevent an imbalance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that cause chronic tissue inflammation leading to autoimmune diseases.

Avocados are bursting with enzymes and rich in minerals, including the master mineral magnesium, which is involved in over 300 metabolic functions of the body. Most Americans are deficient with magnesium. 

Avocados help the body develop glutathione, the important master anti-oxidant that can be replenished by the liver. Vitamins A, much of the B complex, K, E, and C are also very available in avocados. 

Heart-healthy potassium that balances internal sodium levels and boron are abundant in avocado along with several other minerals that are not present in processed foods. (Source)

Tips for Shopping and Eating Avocados

Different regional sources of avocado include Mexico, California, and Florida. Though organic avocados are available only in stores that focus on organic produce, non-organic avocados are more widespread and available to consumers everywhere. 

Fortunately, avocado leads the Environmental Working Group (EWG) “Clean 15” crops that are the least chemically sprayed. Most avocado farmers that do use fertilizers and pesticides do so through drip irrigation, and not by spraying.

Here is the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 EWG list.

When shopping for either organic or non-organic avocados, you need to develop a feel for the sweet spot squeeze of not hard and not mushy. They should have a little give without being mushy. 

Those that are too hard can ripen more over time without refrigeration. The mushy ones could be used for smoothies.

If you are trying to go ketogenic with your diet but prefer plant-based foods over animal fats, adding coconut oil and avocado daily makes sense.

The following video demonstrates how to buy avocados and how to deal with them in your kitchen. I prefer simply scooping out the fruit and eating it after a sprinkle sea salt on the half I’m eating.

Then there’s guacamole. Easy to make, highly nutritious, and tasty! I prefer adding the diced tomato that the demonstrator’s wife in the video below doesn’t like and going easier and seedless with the hot stuff. You can decide depending on your ability to handle hot spices.