This summer I had the opportunity to do a bit of research on avocado oil. This stuff is amazing, folks! Did you know that the nutritional profile of avocado oil, and olive oil is almost the same? They do resemble each other in many ways, and today I thought it wold be fun to share some of the awesome facts that I learned about this highly versatile oil. Let’s do this!
Avocado oil is an edible oil typically cold-pressed from the fruit of the Persea americana (avocado). Originating from Central America, it has a long history of use among indigenous tribes including the Aztec communities of Mexico, who referred to avocado as “vegetable butter” of “butter pear”. Its earthy, rich and fatty quality make it a fine carrier oil, as it was originally extracted for cosmetic use because of its quick ability to penetrate + absorb through the skin. Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fats + vitamin A and vitamin E which promotes natural collagen production, improving skin tone + texture. Avocado oil also enhances the absorption of carotenoids and other nutrients.
Avocado flesh can contain up to 30% of oil, with only 2% in the seed, and 7% in the skin. There are 12 main cultivars, with Hass and Fuerte being the two most popular types grown globally. Avocados are grown in frost-free subtropical regions. Once the fruit has formed on the tree, it slowly matures (~10 months), increasing in size and oil content. Avocado fruit do not ripen while they remain on the tree even once they have reached maximum maturity. If the fruits are not harvested, they can remain on the tree even when the next year’s fruit is developing, and can remain on the tree for more than 18 months from flowering. Once harvested, the avocado will begin to ripen.Because the avocado is a year-round crop, some olive oil processing facilities, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, process olive oil during the olive season, and avocado oil during the rest of the year. Mexico, Chile, Indonesia, Colombia, and Dominican Republic are the top five avocado producing countries. While New Zealand takes the lead for pioneering the process (based on the mechanical extraction method used for olive oil) for extracting cold-pressed avocado oil to create extra-virgin avocado oil.
Following drying of the avocado flesh to remove as much water as possible (~65% water in avocado flesh), avocado oil for cosmetics is traditionally extracted with solvents at elevated temperatures. After extraction, the oil for application in skin care products is usually refined, bleached, and deodorized, resulting in an odorless yellow oil. Like extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed avocado oil is unrefined and so retains the flavor and color characteristics of the fruit flesh.
As a culinary oil, avocado oil compares well with olive oil, as it has a similar monounsaturated fat profile, helping to protect the oil from breakdown during heating. It is naturally low acidic, which helps increase the smoke point. Characterized by a deep emerald-green color (from its chlorophyll content), both refined and unrefined avocado oil can safely take high heat (~480 °F or ~249 °C)—similar to a high quality extra virgin olive oil. As with all oils, the more refined the oil, the higher the smoking point.
There you have it, friends! The next time you’re in the market for an oil that does double duty in the culinary, and beauty department, you’ll know where to turn ;)