Eating an avocado daily increases elasticity and firmness in skin, study shows

The next time you visit the grocery store, consider stocking up on avocados and make them a part of your regular diet.

In a recent study conducted through a collaboration at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, avocado consumption was shown to increase skin elasticity and firmness.

Dr. Zhaoping Li, chief of the division of clinical nutrition at UCLA, said using avocados as facial masks may be helpful, but eating them is far more beneficial for your skin.

“In the bigger context, skin is a part of the body and you can’t just rely on topical treatment to keep your skin in great health,” Dr. Li said. “Skin health is only going to go so far, especially if your body is not in the best condition.”

Dr. Li explained that beauty has to start internally: What you put inside your body is going to have a great effect on the outside of your body.

For this initial study, 39 women age 27 to 73 were assigned to either eat one avocado daily or, for the control group, to continue their normal diet for eight weeks.

The women selected in the study all had the same skin type. Researchers used a device called a cutometer to measure facial skin elasticity, firmness, pigmentation, sebum and hydration. The test measurements were applied to the forehead and under the eyes.

After eight weeks, the subjects who ate an avocado daily showed significant increase in elasticity and firmness in the skin compared to the control group. At the end of the study, researchers concluded that daily avocado consumption can lead to improved elasticity and firmness to the facial skin of healthy women.

“This study showed more accurately that if you want your skin to be young and vibrant, then the best approach is not just topicals, but improving your whole diet. When you take care of your entire body with proper nutrition then your skin is going to reflect that,” Dr. Li said.

Dr. Li said an avocado study for men likely would take place at a later date. This study was limited to women for more precise data, because men and women have different skin structures due to hormonal differences.

The avocado study was the third natural food study on skin health performed at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Earlier studies explored the benefits of pomegranates and almonds, with the intent to measure how natural foods can play a role in overall health, including skin health.

 ‘Fatty’ benefits of avocados

“What we have learned from this study is that avocado is a very unique fruit,” Dr. Li said. “It has a lot of fibers, monounsaturated fatty acids and phytonutrients and it has an impact on many, if not all, of the organ systems inside of our body.”

Dr. Li explained that if you regularly consume a natural food such as avocado, which holds natural unsaturated fat, to replace processed foods that have saturated fats, you would be improving your diet and overall health significantly.

“If you can swap out your high-fat processed foods like sausages with avocado, you will be doing yourself a favor,” Dr. Li said. “Avocados are high in fat, but it’s good fat. This counters the public opinion that all fats are bad.”

Fats play many physiological roles including helping the body absorb vitamins. Some nutrients the body receives from food are fat-soluble, meaning they cannot be absorbed without the help of fatty acids.

“The dietary quality of the foods you’re getting your fats from really matters," Dr. Li said. "Natural food, particularly in place of processed food, is what we want to be eating to prevent disease, to keep ourselves in good health, and that includes keeping our skin healthy.”

Carotenoids in avocados

Avocados also contain a phytonutrient called carotenoids that act as antioxidants in the body. Though avocados are a fruit, its carotenoids have cancer-fighting properties similar to those of many cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli.

The body can convert carotenoids to vitamin A, which is linked to vision and a strong immune system.

Carotenoids are responsible for the light-green pigmentation found inside the flesh of an avocado. They are also responsible for pigmentation in other fruits and vegetables such as oranges, apricots, grapefruit, carrots and squash.

Phytonutrients in avocados promote better health

In addition to a high quantity of fiber, avocados possess phytochemicals and other nutrients which aid in many physical health processes such as:

  • Lowering blood pressure (due to high levels of potassium)
  • Lowering cardiovascular inflammation
  • Prevention of cataracts and protection against UV light damage
  • Keeping you regular and preventing constipation
  • Preventing congenital anomalies at birth for pregnant women

Dr. Li explained that the nutrients contained in avocados not only help with the repair of damaged skin but, because they contain a high level of antioxidants, support multiple functions in the body. It’s similar to the nutritional value of grapes.

“A lot of those natural compounds in avocados share the same characteristics as the resveratrol found in grapes and the many other phytonutrients found in other fruits and vegetables,” Dr. Li said.

“It brings us back to the main point of all of our research, which is that replacing processed foods with natural foods improves our organs, improves our skin, and improves our health altogether.”

To learn more about the benefits of other fruits and vegetables, please visit the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition.


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