Avocados Could Help Stop Some Of These Listeria Outbreaks

By Mike Pomranz |

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Most people don’t need convincing about the awesomeness of avocado. The green miracle worker can easily elevate foods from toast to burritos and everything in between. (Let’s just assume most foods exist on a spectrum between toast and burritos.) But what if I told you that avocados could help fight foodborne illness? Then what if you heard it from someone whose opinion actually mattered – like a team of scientists??

According to a recently published study from researchers at Mexico’s Tecnologico de Monterrey, a compound called acetogenins found in avocados, especially within their seeds, may be able to inhibit the spread of listeria – the nasty bacteria behind one of the most common causes of food poisoning-related fatalities in the US.

Making the findings especially intriguing is that not only could acetogenins from avocados potentially be used as a natural food additive, extracting these compounds from seeds could represent a new revenue stream for the avocado industry. “Avocado acetogenins possess antilisterial activity comparable to that of synthetic commercial antimicrobials, indicating that enriched extracts or isolated compounds from avocado fruit can potentially be incorporated into ready-to-eat (RTE) foods as natural additives to control Listeria monocytogenes,” the authors write. “As a waste product of the industry, avocado seeds represent a good source of these molecules.”

According to Modern Farmer, exactly how acetogenins work to prevent listeria growth isn’t fully understood, but, since humans already consume acetogenins “above antilisterial levels” when we eat avocado pulp, it’s assumed that these compounds are probably safe. Still, the researchers do warn that “bioavailability and safety of the enriched extracts and isolated compounds needs further assessment.”

Also, keep in mind that these compounds are only able to inhibit the growth of listeria. They are definitely not a cure for food poisoning. So don’t try chowing down on an avocado next time you’ve caught a foodborne illness, unless you want your vomit to be a lovely avocado shade of green.

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