Avocados Might Help Protect Your Lungs From Stinky Air Pollution

The avocado industry has been suffering maladies of biblical proportion as of late, leading to speculation that the end may be very near. But according to a new study, those of us living in smog-infested places may be using the green stuff in lieu of a...

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May 22 2015, 9:00pm

The avocado industry has been suffering maladies of biblical proportion as of late—drought, fungus, and beetles—leading to speculation that the end may be growing very near.

And if all that wasn't enough to convince you to hold tight to your loved ones during the ensuing guacaclysm, how about the fact that badass vatos are doling out what little avocados we have left? Did I forget to mention the fact that our small, green buddy was almost the cause of a New York state court mistrial?

But all is not yet lost. A new study from Nottingham University and King's College London could give us yet another reason to love "the Apple of Central America."

Those of us living in smog-infested places—and isn't that pretty much all of us?—may be using the avocado in lieu of a respirator.

Am I the only one imagining a dystopic, hellscape of a future in which mankind is forced to commit unspeakable acts in order to barter for the avocado pits we all suck on in order to breathe?

As it turns out, reports of a new study from Kings College London and Nottingham University published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine say that the Vitamin E in avocados may protect your lungs from particulates.

Particulates are the tiny particles of pollution that enter your lungs in smoggy areas and cause all kinds of havoc. Everything from heart attacks to cancer, with some delightful stops in between—strokes, diabetes, and hypertension—can be caused by these particulates. So protection against them is key.

Evidently, the majestic but wrinkled green fruit minimizes oxidative injury thanks to its relatively high levels of Vitamin E, which fight free radicals, the oxygen molecules that can cause disease. Half of a Hass avocado has 1.3 milligrams of Vitamin E. A 3.5-ounce serving provides around ten percent of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin E.

The authors of the study were not surprised with the results. Dr. Ana Valdes of Nottingham University and a co-author of the study, said: "Our work builds on a number of studies exploring whether some vitamins can counteract the negative effect on lungs caused by air pollution."

The study involved 5,500 people from a twins registry in the UK; 500 of them lived in London. Those who had higher levels of particulates in their lungs were found to have lower levels of alpha-tocopherol or Vitamin E in their blood—and they also had lower lung function.

Of course, the authors of the study point out that "more work is needed to establish whether antioxidant supplements do indeed provide protection to the lungs in the general population."

And that's not all of the good news about avocados and your health. It has been reported that a study by Shizuoka University in Japan found that avocados also protect against liver damage caused by the hepatitis viruses. Precisely how this happens, and if it will happen in humans—the study involved rats—is not entirely clear.

Other studies have shown that avocados may have a positive effect on hypertension and blood sugar levels. What can't the humble avocado do?

So I'd say it's high time you begin renovations on that already cramped secret avocado silo. Doing so may help you breathe a lot easier.