Avocado oil benefits our health in three main ways – through its superior fatty acid profile, high in monounsaturated fats; through its phytosterols, particularly the good levels of beta-sitosterol; and through its strong antioxidant content. Ahead is a look into each of these.
Avocado Oil’s Fatty Acid Profile
Avocado oil has a fatty acid profile weighted heavily towards monounsaturated fats. Typically, testing shows approximately 76% of the fat in avocado oil is monounsaturated, in the form of oleic and palmitoleic fatty acids.The remainder is around 12% linoleic and alpha linolenic acids fatty acids (polyunsaturated and omega-3) and 12% palmitic and stearic saturated fats.
Research studies suggest that monounsaturated fats are some of the healthiest to have in our diet. A good intake of monounsaturated fats versus saturated fats has been shown to reduce low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and lower our risk of heart disease and stroke.
Increasing your intake of the monounsaturated fats, like those in a extra virgin avocado oil, has also been linked to an improvement in arthritis symptoms for sufferers and, when it replaces high carbohydrate foods, a reduction in belly fat. There is further research suggesting monounsaturated fatty acids may be beneficial for reducing our risk of colon cancer and breast cancer for women as well.
Avocado Oil, Beta-Sitosterol and Other Phytosterols
Phytosterols, also known as plant sterols and stanols, are compounds similar in structure to cholesterol. Due to this similarity, phytosterols can block cholesterol absorption in the intestine. This action can potentially lead to lower LDL cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke when phytosterols are consumed regularly.
Alongside pumpkin seed oil, cold pressed avocado oil is a good source of phytosterols like beta-sitosterol, campesterol and stigmasterol. It is particularly rich in beta-sitosterol, with more than twice the content of olive oil and even more of this beneficial phytosterol than saw palmetto oil.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP) is a painful condition that leads to an enlargement of the male prostate gland and difficulty urinating. It affects many American men and is believed to be primarily due to producing an overabundance of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body. This DHT attaches to prostate cell receptor sites and stimulates unwanted growth.
Beta-sitosterol has been shown to inhibit the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme that is responsible for converting testosterone to DHT. A large enough intake of beta-sitosterol may reduce DHT levels, thus helping to prevent future prostate problems, alleviate some of the symptoms for men already suffering from BHP and even help with hair loss problems associated with excess dihydrotestosterone.
Avocado Oil Antioxidant Benefits
Cold pressed avocado oil is a good source of the antioxidants vitamins E, alpha and beta-carotene and lutein.
Vitamin E from natural sources like avocado oil has many potential health benefits. Some of these include lowering blood pressure and possibly reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease (though studies here are mixed – the source and type of vitamin E may well be important).
Other potential vitamin E benefits may include a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, breast and prostate cancer and eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).
While there have been many positive studies involving vitamin E, many other studies involving supplementation with alpha-tocopherol only proved inconclusive. In nature, true vitamin E occurs with a range of other tocopherols like gamma-tocopherol and tocotrienols which are all likely to be important in its protective functions.
Alongside vitamin E and alpha and beta-carotene, cold pressed avocado oil antioxidant benefits also include lutein, especially helpful for our eyes. Lutein is a xanthophyll carotenoid that is concentrated in the macula region of our eyes and absorbs excess blue light, which can damage our vision.
These three reasons make cold pressed avocado oil a very healthy alternative to other cooking oils you may currently be using. Certainly unhealthy heat processed oils like cottonseed, corn, soy or canola oil, but also healthy oils like olive oil, due to its far higher smoke point and avocado’s many health benefits. The fact that it tastes great too makes it even better.
Photo credit with thanks: ollesvensson