Avocado Oil

Is It Healthy?

What is avocado oil?

Avocado oil is an edible oil pressed from the fruit of the avocado. Cold-pressed avocado oil is high in heart-healthy oleic acid (omega-9s), believed to be partly responsible for its health benefits. This oil is not only healthy, and also a flavourful addition to different dishes. It can be used in place of other cooking oils, butter and margarine. Furthermore, this oil has an unusually high smoke point, both cold-pressed (249°C / 480°F) and refined (271°C / 520°F) are good oil for frying.

Types of avocado oil

It can be categorised into refined and unrefined (cold-pressed) oil.

 

refined avocado oil

Refined avocado oil

The refining process involves high heat and chemicals which strip nutrients out of the oil as they remove the colour, flavour and smell. Compared to unrefined avocado oil, refined avocado oil has a much subtle taste and retains a small part of the benefits of its unrefined counterparts. Some of the great benefits of avocado oil are its high levels of phytosterols and chlorophyll which would be greatly reduced in the refined oil.

unrefined cold-pressed avocado oil

Unrefined / cold-pressed avocado oil

Cold pressing does not use any heat or chemical solvents. Hence, the oil is able to retain all its natural nutrients, colour, flavour and smell. Unrefined oil is nutritional and good for health. 

Nutrition facts

Fatty Acid Breakdown:

Saturated: 12%
Monounsaturated (e.g. omega-9): 76%
Polyunsaturated (e.g. omega-3, omega-6): 12%

Omega-3: Omega-6 ratio = 1 : 13

 

Benefits

Cold-pressed avocado oil has numerous health benefits which are closely associated to its healthy fats and antioxidants.

 

  • Support good heart health
    An animal test showed that avocado oil helped reduce triglycerides (TG), very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and low-density lipoprotein. The oil also decreased hs-CRP (a risk marker for cardiovascular diseases), this implies that inflammatory processes were partially reversed 1

 

  • Support healthy vision
    Avocado oil contains lutein, a carotenoid found naturally in the eyes. As our body does not produce lutein, it must be obtained from the dietary source. Having sufficient lutein in the eyes may help reduce the risk of age-related eye conditions such as cataract2 and macular degeneration3 .

 

  • Improve nutrient absorption
    Fat/oil is required for absorption of certain nutrients by our body. A study showed that adding avocado oil to a salad with carrots, spinach and romaine lettuce increased the absorption of carotenoid antioxidants. Compared to a salad without avocado oil, the increase was significant at between
    4.3 and 17.4-fold4 .

 

  • Neutralise free radicals
    Mitochondria, an important part of the cell that produces energy, is a main source of free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidative stress which may lead to diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In a study conducted on diabetic rats, dietary avocado oil supplementation was
    shown to reduce the production of harmful free radicals in the mitochondria 5 .

The drawbacks 

 

  • Low in omega-3 fatty acids

Our body cannot produce omega-3s, an essential fatty acid necessary for health functions such as healthy brain development, and has to obtained it from a dietary source. However, avocado oil contains less than 1% of omega-3s and hence not an ideal source. A recent study suggested that most of us do not have sufficient omega-3s and are likely to suffer from symptoms of mild omega-3 deficiency such as dry skin, poor concentration, fatigue and joint pain. Replenishment of omega-3s by choosing foods or oils with naturally high omega-3s is important.

 

  • Risk of adulteration

The production of avocado oil has been continuously rising due to its increasing popularity. As a high-value culinary oil, avocado oil may be mixed with lower value oils such as corn oil or sunflower oil in order to increase profit margins. In oils that are adulterated with nut-containing oil, this is the likely culprit that induces allergic reaction in people with nut allergies. Hence, purchasing avocado oil from credible manufacturer / supplier is critically important.

 

  • Compromised quality

To obtain high-quality or extra virgin avocado oil, the avocado should not be overripe. The avocado should not have minimal rots or post-harvest issues such as greying of the flesh, so that the extracted avocado oil can withstand a long storage period. Pure virgin blends of avocado oil could use fruits with some extent of rots and physiological conditions, however, oils that use avocados that are more deteriorated are likely to become rancid or moldy — both of which could cause sickness. Hence, choosing extra virgin avocado oil in daily cooking is important.

References:

1. Dis Markers. 2014;2014:386425.
2. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2006 Sep;47(9):3783-6.
3. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science June 2003, Vol.44, 2461-2465. 
4. J Nutr. 2005 Mar;135(3):431-6.
5. J Bioenerg Biomembr. 2013 Jun;45(3):271-87.