Avocados are a popular superfood because they’re full of “good” dietary fats. But did you know that this nutritious fruit is also used to make avocado oil?
What is avocado oil?
The avocado (Persea americana) is rich in essential minerals and vitamins. The fruit, also called the “alligator pear,” offers various health benefits, and the same goes for avocado oil.
This cooking oil is unique because while other plant oils are derived from the seed of the plant, avocado oil is extracted from the flesh of the fruit itself. Since avocado oil has an unusually high smoke point of 500 degrees Fahrenheit, the oil won’t break down and produce harmful free radicals, even at a high temperature.
Take note that refined avocado oil has a high smoke point of 500 degrees Fahrenheit, but virgin avocado oil’s smoke point is only 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. This means only the former can be used to bake, barbecue, sear, or saute at high temperatures.
Some people say that avocado oil has a slightly buttery or nutty taste, but in general, it is considered to have a neutral taste. Avocado oil is usually compared to olive oil because both are rich in healthy fats. However, the former scores higher when cooking over high heat due to its smoke point.
Avocado oil has three different kinds of fat:
- Saturated fat – Saturated fats are considered less healthy fats since they are linked to heart disease. The American Heart Association warns that you should choose oils with less than four grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. Avocado oil is a healthy choice since it only has about two grams of saturated fats per tablespoon.
- Polyunsaturated fat – Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) can help boost your cardiovascular system. Avocado oil has two grams of polyunsaturated fats per tablespoon.
- Monounsaturated fat – Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) help increase the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, in the body. Avocado oil has about 10 grams of monounsaturated fats per tablespoon, making it a healthier choice compared to other oils with a higher amount of saturated fats and trans fats.
The health benefits of avocado oil
Here’s why you should replace unhealthy cooking oils with beneficial avocado oil.
It can enhance the absorption of essential nutrients.
Certain nutrients need fat in order to be absorbed by the body. These nutrients include the carotenoid antioxidants or pigments found in various plant foods. However, fruits and vegetables that are rich in carotenoids are often low in fat.
According to a small study, adding avocado oil to a salad with carrots, romaine lettuce, and spinach helped increase the absorption of carotenoids.
It can improve eye health.
Avocado oil has a carotenoid called lutein that is naturally present in the eyes. Lutein functions as an antioxidant that can help boost eye health. Increasing your lutein intake can help lower your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
It can help relieve arthritis symptoms.
Arthritis is a painful disease characterized by inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis, which involves the breakdown of cartilage in joints, is the most common form of this condition.
The results of a 2015 study, published in the journal Cartilage, revealed that extracts from avocado and soybean oil called avocado/soybean unsaponifiables can help alleviate the pain and stiffness found in patients with osteoarthritis. The oil is extra beneficial for individuals with hip and knee osteoarthritis.
It can prevent gum disease.
Studies suggest that a combination of avocado oil and soybean oil extracts can help prevent gum disease. Gum (periodontal) disease is an inflammatory disease that may cause symptoms like swollen, red, and bleeding gums; the deterioration of bone and tissue near teeth; and bad breath (halitosis). It can even cause tooth loss. (Related: 5 Ways Avocado Oil Will Make You Healthier.)
It can prevent inflammation.
The antioxidants in avocado oil can help heal dry, flaky, and inflamed skin due to eczema and psoriasis. If you have a skin condition, perform a skin patch test first to determine if avocado oil can worsen or trigger your symptoms.
Avocado oil is a versatile ingredient, and it can be used when making different savory dishes such as salads, soups, or roasted vegetables. The oil is also suitable for people following the Keto, Paleo, and vegan diets.
Even though avocado oil is a little expensive compared to other cooking oils, it offers many health benefits when used in moderation.