Avocado Oil Vs Olive Oil for Healthy Cooking
Is avocado oil better than olive oil in your kitchen and should you even be frying with olive oil or can this be dangerous?
This page looks at the differences between olive oil and avocado oil and just what makes the later superior for healthy cooking.
What is Avocado Oil?
Like olive oil, avocado oil is one of the few cooking oils extracted directly from the fruit, rather than chemically extracted from seeds. Avocado fruit contains around 30% oil and it is extracted in a similar way to extra virgin olive oil.
Avocado oil is a very healthy cooking oil, with an extremely beneficial fatty acid profile, good levels of antioxidants and other healthy compounds. It also has a very high smoke point that makes it great for frying with.
Actually, in all of these ways it’s superior to the much more commonly used olive oil. Here’s why.
Frying with Avocado Oil instead of Olive Oil
Along with healthy coconut oil, avocado oil is one of the best possible oils to have your kitchen for cooking with.
The refined oil has a very high smoke point, usually listed as between 480 Fahrenheit and 520 Fahrenheit (270 Celsius). This makes it a great choice for stir-frys and other high-temperature cooking.
Olive oil’s smoke point, by comparison, can vary greatly depending on the grade of the olive oil and its processing. Low quality ‘light’ olive oil is generally cited at a highest smoke point of around 430 Fahrenheit (210 Celsius), which may be ok for medium frying.
However, extra virgin olive oil, the type we’re told is the healthiest and best to get, can have a smoke point as low as 220 Fahrenheit (105 Celsius), which is definitely not suitable for high temperature cooking or pretty much any kind of frying.
Virgin avocado oil is also usually advertised with a similarly high smoke point to refined avocado oil. However some independent testing has shown that these figure may be exaggerated. To be on the safe side it would be best to keep virgin avocado oil under 375-400 degrees Fahrenheit when cooking.
This is still significantly higher than virgin olive oil, but the important thing is to avoid is having whatever cooking oil you are using smoking heavily in the pan. At that point, any health benefits the oil used to have are gone and there’s a good chance dangerous compounds have been created.
Read more about the problem with the smoke point of oils on the next page.
Monounsaturated Fats and Avocado Oil
Cold pressing produces a high quality and great tasting avocado oil, with very low levels of acidity and oxidation and many benefits for your health. Foremost of these is the extremely high levels of monounsaturated fats.
Extra virgin avocado oil has a monounsaturated fatty acid level of around 72% to 76%, which is even higher than olive oil’s at approximately 67%. It also has less saturated fat, at close to 13%, whereas olive oil is usually in the vicinity of 17%.
Research has shown monounsaturated fatty acids to be one of the healthiest kinds of fats you can consume. They are known to help reduce your LDL cholesterol levels, which can lead to a lower risk of heart disease – still the biggest killer in America.
Monounsaturated fats also help maintain good moisture levels in your epidermis, leading to a healthier skin tone. If your skin is feeling dry and looking tired, switching to using avocado oil in your kitchen could help improve your complexion.
Vitamin E and Other Antioxidants
Cold pressed avocado oil retains its high levels of vitamin E, which is well known to aid in improving skin tone and appearance. Vitamin E has also being shown in some research studies to potentially lower our risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and certain cancers.
Alongside vitamin E’s antioxidant potential, unrefined avocado oil contains the antioxidant lutein. A yellow pigment xanthophyll carotenoid, lutein is concentrated in the macula region of your eyes. Here it helps protect your vision from damage by UV radiation and high-energy blue light.
Getting good levels of lutein in your diet can help prevent age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) later in life. ARMD is a growing problem and the leading cause of blindness for older people in the Western world.
Phytosterols are beneficial compounds found in avocado oil, and other healthy oils like pumpkin seed oil, that help reduce cholesterol absorption in our gastrointestinal tract.
Avocado oil contains the phytosterol beta-sitosterol in the highest concentrations, but also contains other phytosterols like campesterol and stigmasterol. In fact, avocado oil has around twice the beta-sitosterol of olive oil and even more than the highly regarded saw palmetto oil.
Beta-sitosterol is particularly useful for men, due to its ability to block the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase from converting beneficial testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), believed to be largely responsible for both prostate problems and hair loss issues.
Cold Pressed Avocado Oil Versus Olive Oil
There’s a lot of reasons to recommend switching from olive oil to avocado oil. It has more monounsaturated fatty acids, high levels of the antioxidants like vitamins E and lutein, more than twice the beta-sitosterol of olive oil and a higher smoke point for cooking with.
Finally and perhaps most importantly for many people, extra virgin avocado oil actually tastes great too with a rich, buttery avocado flavor. It’s much nicer than olive oil for cooking eggs and other dishes where you really notice the flavor of the oil used.
All in all, olive oil is still very good for you. It’s just that in many ways, the less well known avocado oil is even better than olive oil for healthy cooking. If you’d like to try it for yourself, the page on the best avocado oil brands has the best options I’ve found and use in my own kitchen.
Photo 1: cyclonebill / Photo 2: walknboston / Photo 3: Stefan