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Avocado (Persea americana) may help to protect the liver from damage, according to new research from Japan.

Researchers fed avocado and 22 other fruits to laboratory rats. The rats were then given D-galactosamine, a substance that causes liver damage by interfering with cell synthesis and results in cell death. The rats fed the avocado obtained the least amount of liver damage.

The Researchers discovered three new compounds that might explain why the avocado is protective.

"Besides offering taste and nutrition, avocados seem to improve liver health," said Hirokazu Kawagishi, professor of applied biological chemistry, at Shizuoka University. "I have begun eating avocados more myself, because of this study." He advocated that people should try to eat an avocado a day.

Besides avocados, 8 other fruits showed a liver-protective effect:

  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Lychee
  • Fig
  • Kiwi
  • Cherry
  • Japanese Plum
  • Papaya

Researchers are now analyzing those fruits to determine if there are chemicals within the fruit that can explain its protective effect and whether those compounds can be exploited to develop drugs to treat disease. They also plan to recruit human volunteers to determine if adding avocado to the diet can effect the outcomes of patients with liver disease.

A spokesperson for the California Avocado Info Bureau, Jeanette LeBlanc, said that in the US the average person eats about one avocado every two weeks, although the numbers of people who are eating avocados continues to rise.

The 2000 International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies in Honolulu, Hawaii, December, 2000

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