February 21, 2024


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Avocado Oil: Benefits, Nutrition, and Uses

Avocado oil has recently grown in popularity as more people learn of the benefits of incorporating healthy sources of fat into their diets.  

Avocado oil may benefit health in several ways. It’s a good source of fatty acids known to support and protect the health of the heart. Avocado oil also provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances, such as carotenoids and vitamin E.

Not only is avocado oil nutritious, but it’s safe for high-heat cooking and can be used in various ways to create delicious and heart-healthy meals.

Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which are fat molecules that can help lower your LDL cholesterol. Avocado oil is composed of 71% monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), 13% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and 16% saturated fatty acids (SFA).

Diets rich in monounsaturated fats have been associated with several health benefits, including protecting against conditions like heart disease. A study that included data on over 93,000 people found people who consumed MUFAs from plant sources had a significantly lower risk of dying from heart disease and cancer.

The same study showed replacing SFAs and MUFAs from animal sources with a similar caloric intake of MUFAs from plant sources significantly lowered overall risk of mortality.

Other research shows when MUFAs from plant foods replace SFAs, trans fats, or refined carbohydrates, heart disease risk is significantly reduced.

Also, one of the main fats in avocado oil, oleic acid, may help support a healthy body weight by regulating appetite and energy expenditure and reducing abdominal fat.

Vitamin E is a nutrient that performs critical roles in the body. It functions as a powerful antioxidant,  protecting cells against oxidative damage that may otherwise lead to disease. The nutrient is also involved in immune function, cellular communication, and other metabolic processes.

Additionally, vitamin E supports heart health by preventing blood clotting and promoting blood flow. It also helps prevent oxidative changes to LDL cholesterol. Oxidative changes to LDL cholesterol play an important role in the development of atherosclerosis, or plaque build-up in the arteries, which is the main cause of heart disease.

Though vitamin E is essential to health, most people in the United States don’t consume enough vitamin E to support overall health. Study findings suggest around 96% of women and 90% of men in the U.S. have insufficient intake of vitamin E, which could negatively impact health in a number of ways.

Research shows a two-tablespoon serving of avocado oil provides around seven milligrams (mg) of vitamin E, which equates to 47% of the Daily Value (DV). However, vitamin E levels can vary depending on the processing avocado oil goes through before it reaches grocery store shelves.

Refined avocado oil, which typically undergoes heat treatment, will have lower levels of vitamin E as heat degrades certain compounds found in oils, including vitamins and protective plant compounds.

To ensure you’re purchasing an avocado oil product that provides a higher amount of vitamin E, opt for unrefined, cold-pressed oils. 

Avocado oil contains plant compounds that are known to support health, including polyphenols, proanthocyanidins, and carotenoids.

These compounds help protect against oxidative damage and regulate inflammation in the body. Studies show diets rich in antioxidants, such as carotenoids and polyphenols, could help protect against several health conditions, including heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases.

Though human research is limited, results from cell studies and animal research suggest avocado oil has significant cellular-protective effects and may help decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.

However, like with vitamin E, the refining process can significantly reduce the antioxidant content of avocado oil. If you’d like to reap the benefits of the protective substances found in avocado oil, it’s best to purchase unrefined, cold-pressed avocado oil.

Avocado oil’s fatty acid profile makes it a smart choice for supporting the health of your heart. It’s high in monounsaturated fats and contains antioxidants such as polyphenols and vitamin E, which have been shown to reduce heart disease risk.

Using avocado oil in place of saturated fats, like butter, may help reduce heart disease risk factors, such as LDL cholesterol, and help lower inflammation, which can help protect heart health. 

One small study that included 13 people with overweight found when participants replaced butter with avocado oil in a high-fat, high-carb meal, post-meal levels of LDL cholesterol levels, total cholesterol, and inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein were reduced.

It’s important to note studies investigating the effects of avocado oil consumption on heart health are limited. However, there is more extensive research that shows eating whole avocados and replacing sources of saturated fat with sources of unsaturated fat, like avocado oil, lower heart disease risk factors.

Also, research shows following a diet rich in unsaturated fats, such as avocados, avocado oil, olive oil, nuts, and seeds, and low in saturated fats, helps support overall heart health and reduce heart disease risk.

Like other processed oils, avocado oil is low in most nutrients. However, unrefined avocado oil does provide a good source of vitamin E.

One-tablespoon serving of avocado oil contains:

  • Calories: 124
  • Fat: 14 grams (g)
  • Saturated Fat: 1.62 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 9.88 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Vitamin E: 3.5 mg or 23.5% of the Daily Value (DV)

The content of vitamin E and other protective compounds found in avocado oil can vary depending on the type. The refining process oils go through can significantly reduce levels of antioxidants, such as vitamin E, carotenoids, and polyphenols.

Though refined avocado oil has a higher smoke point than unrefined avocado oil, choosing an unrefined, cold-pressed avocado oil may offer more nutritional benefits. 

Avocado oil is safe for most people. However, those who are allergic to avocados should generally avoid avocado oil and other products made from avocados.

Also, like all fats, avocado oil is a calorie-dense food and is meant to be used in small quantities. Overconsuming any high-calorie food could lead to weight gain.

However, adding healthy fats like avocado oil to your diet can support overall health and help with weight loss or weight management. Studies show following higher-fat eating patterns, such as Mediterranean-type diets and low-carb diets may be helpful for supporting weight loss.

Avocado oil is a versatile fat that can be used in cooking and baking.

Avocado oil’s smoke point varies depending on the type. Unrefined avocado oil has a smoke point of about 482℉, while refined avocado oil has a smoke point of 520℉.

Because of its high smoke point, avocado oil can be used for higher-heat cooking methods, such as frying. Unrefined avocado oil can also be used as a finishing oil and to make sauces and dressings.

Here are a few ways to use avocado oil:

  • Use avocado oil to make homemade salad dressings and marinades
  • Drizzle unrefined avocado oil on grain dishes, pastas, and roasted vegetables
  • Use avocado oil to cook meats, eggs, fish, and vegetables 
  • Substitute avocado oil for butter in recipes like muffins and breads

When kept at room temperature, avocado oil has a shelf life of around 210 days.

When shopping for avocado oil, it’s best to choose oils in dark glass or metal containers. This is because oils are sensitive to heat and light. Purchasing avocado oil in dark glass or metal containers and storing it in a dark, cool place helps protect the oil from light and heat damage.

Avocado oil is a healthy fat that provides vitamin E plus plant compounds like polyphenols and carotenoids. It may help support heart health and improve your intake of vitamin E and health-promoting fatty acids.

Avocado oil has a high smoke point and makes an excellent choice for sautéing, frying, and baking. It can also be used as a finishing oil and to make dressings and marinades.

Consuming unrefined, cold-pressed avocado oil can help you reap the most health benefits as it contains higher levels of protective compounds such as vitamin E and polyphenol antioxidants.