Avocado extract is the oil obtained from an avocado through either cold press extraction, which produces thick, green oil; or a heat extraction, which produces clear, yellow oil. The pulp and seed from the fruit is discarded, along with the fiber, but most of the healthy fats, minerals and vitamins are present in the oil. The heat process can degrade some of the nutrients, so extract obtained through a cold press is nutritionally richer.
A number of beauty products use avocado extract, including face creams, masks, cleansers, lotions and hair care products. The rich oil replenishes moisture in dry hair and skin, an attribute that can be especially attractive to people living in dry climates. The vitamin A and glutamine, an amino acid found in avocado, is useful for protecting the skin and scrubbing off dead cells. The fact that the oil is easily absorbed makes avocado a good choice for massage lotions and other moisturizers.
Cooking with avocado oil is a tasty and healthy way to reduce cholesterol. Every diet should contain a small daily dose of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats such as those found in avocados. The fruit also contains beta-sitosterol-red, a cholesterol reducing substance.
Avocados are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals as well, including vitamins C, E beta-carotene, and lutein, which are antioxidants. Some cancer studies suggest that lutein helps combat free radicals associated with prostate cancer. Antioxidants prohibit free oxygen radicals in the body from harming healthy cells. Studies indicate that free radicals are involved in the formation of certain cancer cells and that antioxidants can actually help to prevent some cancers. Other nutrients found in avocados and avocado extract include potassium, iron, copper, and vitamin B6.
The health supplement industry has begun to include avocado products as a result of the high level of nutrients present. The first supplements were introduced in 1983 but were not particularly successful since many consumers developed diarrhea from the dosage. Those early versions have been replaced with sustained release preparations which do not have this rather unpleasant side effect. Avocado extract supplements are available in a variety of forms including oil, capsules, tablets, and powder.
Avocado extract may be an effective weight loss aid as well. The good fats found in avocados actually increase metabolism, the rate at which the body burns calories. Limited studies indicate that avocados reduce the craving for carbohydrates and interact with the pancreas to lower the production of insulin. This lower insulin level reduces the amount of glucose which is stored as fat in the body. While studies regarding these weight loss benefits are very limited, some people who take avocado extract supplements as appetite suppressants report satisfactory results.