If you've logged onto Facebook in the past few days, you may have seen a viral video demonstrating how you can prepare the seed of an avocado for consumption. The video claims the seed is the most nutrient-dense part of the fruit, and that by drying it, chopping it up into pieces, and blending it, you are left with a powder-like substance that you can mix into smoothies or use for baking, adding an extra nutritional boost to your diet. The video has gained more than 25 million views since it was published on March 13.
So what's the deal? Have we been missing out on a highly nutritious part of one of our favorite superfoods?
Not so much, says Health's contributing nutrition editor, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD. "I'm a huge avocado fan. I eat them daily, and recommend them to my clients, but I have reservations about eating the seeds," she says. "While there is some research about beneficial compounds in the seed, the safety of ingesting it hasn't been established, so the risks versus benefits aren't fully known."
The research on avocado seed consumption is very limited. In the studies that do exist, scientists conclude that additional research needs to be done to determine whether it's safe or beneficial to eat them. Additionally, the existing studies have focused on the potential benefits of avocado seed extracts, rather than the consumption of the seed itself, and they provide information only on lab testing, not on clinical data.
"There is a body of evidence exploring potential health benefits in extracts of the avocado seed, but these potential benefits versus risks of eating the avocado seed are not well fleshed out," says Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LDN, an Atlanta-based nutritionist.
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Even the California Avocado Commission writes on its website that it does not recommend the consumption of the avocado pit: "The seed of an avocado contains elements that are not intended for human consumption."
The bottom line: Until more research is done to establish if the seeds are safe to eat, and how much and how often you should eat them, stick to eating the avocado's creamy flesh. "It's chock-full of good fat, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber," says Sass.