Avocados have received plenty of praise as a superfood, but—despite being delicious—they can’t always take sole responsibility for those health benefits. Much of what makes avocados so good for you is their high levels of vitamin E, a compound that can be found in many foods. But now researchers have homed in on another avocado compound that a recent study shows may be able to help fight certain types of cancer.
Avocatin B is—as its name seems to imply—unique to avocados. It’s described as a “nutraceutical,” or a food-derived product with potential clinical benefits. New research suggests that this lipid may be able to destroy leukemia stem cells, potentially offering up a powerful new tool to fight a deadly form of cancer known as acute myeloid leukemia.
In the study, published in the journal Cancer Research, Paul Spagnuolo from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, explains how the fat found in avocado can work against AML. “The stem cell is really the cell that drives the disease,” wrote Spagnuolo. “Not only does avocatin B eliminate the source of AML, but its targeted, selective effects make it less toxic to the body, too,” he was quoted as saying in Medical News Today.
Researchers still believe we are many years away from using avocatin B in a clinical setting, but Spagnuolo and his team are looking to patent the compound for this purpose and hope that clinical trials are the next step.
It’s a reminder once again that avocados can do so much more than be turned into guac.