For a long time, fat had been considered the enemy of a healthy diet. Most people still feel they’re making healthy choices every time they pick up a products labeled fat-free or low-fat. It’s almost as if anything that does not contain fat is automatically healthy. However, this has proven to be a long-held misconception.
Recent studies have shown that not only is fat not the enemy, it is actually a crucial component of a healthy diet. The problem is that not all fats are created equally. So while some types of fats can promote you health and well-being, others can be harmful and lead to high cholesterol and heart disease among other issues. This is why it is important to be mindful about the fat you are consuming.
Avocados have lately gained the reputation for being a superfood, which can contribute to a healthy lifestyle. The fruit consists of about 73% water, 15% fate, 8.5% carbohydrates (most of which are fibers), and 2% protein. This makes it an excellent source of healthy.
Similarly, the oil extracted from this fruit is one of the healthiest and most versatile oils. Not only does avocado oil provide various health benefits, but it is also a flavorful addition to your food, and can be used to substitute most other cooking oils, butter and margarine. Avocado oil contains a sufficient amount of oleic acid, which makes it highly resistant to oxidation. This means that it won’t go rancid as quickly as many other natural oils in your cabinet.
However, the best thing about avocado oil is that is one of the very few virgin oils, which have a high smoke-point (temperature at which oils began to degrade under heat). This makes it an optimal choice for high-heat cooking, such as sautéing and stir-frying. The high temperature will not cause it to break down and lose its health benefits. Since it is usually a virgin oil, it can also be used as a drizzle, salad dressing, or any other food that requires raw oil.
In addition to being the most versatile oil to cook with, avocado oil provide the following health benefits.
- Reduces Cholesterol and Improves Heart Health
One of the major sins of bad fat is that they increase low density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol which can further contribute to heart disease and is also linked to strokes and artery disease. Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. Adding it to your diet can help lower the LDL cholesterol. Additionally, avocado oil and olive oil are two of the most effective oils that help increase the high density lipoprotein (HDL) “good” cholesterol. This also makes it a great dietary choice for people who have diabetes.
- Lower Blood Pressure
High amounts of oleic acid have also shown to lower blood pressure. Additionally, avocado oil is high in potassium and vitamin E, which keep the blood vessels healthy by eradicating free radicals. The levels of essential fatty acids in the kidneys are also altered by diets containing avocado oil. This has an effect on how they respond to the hormones that regulate your blood pressure. The anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin E can help protect the arterial walls from damage, reducing the risk of heart disease that is caused by a build-up of plaque. Since the vitamin E from natural foods sources is absorbed much more efficiently by your body as compared to taking supplements, adding avocado oil to your diet is a very healthy choice.
- Improves Heart Health
Lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure automatically contribute to good heart health. However, may also be able to help reverse the inflammatory processes that are associated with cardiovascular risk. One study found that giving rats sugar along with a supplement of avocado oil significantly reduced their risk of suffering cardiac events as compared to the rats that were fed sugar without the supplement.
- Improved Eye Health
Avocado oil is high in an antioxidant know as lutein. Lutein is caratenoid that is naturally found in the eyes. Therefore, its functions as an antioxidant have a direct benefit for the health of your eyes. Consuming a healthy amount of lutein may help reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degenerations, both of which are very common eye diseases related to old age and can lead to visual impairment and even blindness. Since your body doesn’t produce lutein naturally, it is necessary to obtain it from food by adding healthy source of it, such as avocados, to your diet. Avocado oil also contains vitamin E, which is important for eye health as well.
- Promotes Absorption of Important Nutrients
Some nutrients require fat to be absorbed by the body. Carotenoid antioxidants, which are pigments found in many plant-based foods are among these nutrients. The issue is that most fruits and vegetables that are in carotenoids are low in fat. Hence, you may be consuming a large amount of carotenoids through salads and other vegetables-based dishes, but they may be going to waste since you aren’t consuming enough fat to assist their absorption. Adding some avocado oil to salad dressing or drizzling them over vegetables such as carrots, spinach, and romaine lettuce can increase the absorption of caretenoids as much as 4.3 to 17.4-fold as compared to consuming fruits and vegetables without fat.
- May Fight Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis is a common disease involving the painful inflammation of the joints, which affects millions of people around the world. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. It is associated with the breakdown of cartilage in joints. There have been various studies that have shown that extracts from avocado oil and combined with soybean oil, it can help reduce the pain and stiffness that is associated with osteoarthritis. The mixture creates ASU (Avocado Soy Unsaponifiables), which are sometimes taken by people with osteoarthritis as an alternative to anti-inflammatory treatment. However, this mostly seems to be beneficial for people who suffer from hip or knee osteoarthritis.
- Detoxes the Body
Avocado oil contains a healthy dose of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a natural source of magnesium, which naturally removes heavy metals like mercury and lead from the liver, kidneys, brain and other organs. Therefore, consuming avocado oil on a regular basis can help detox your body.
- Enhances Wound Healing and Improves Skin
Aside from benefiting you internally, the fatty acids in avocado oil also appear to have benefits for your skin. A study with 13 patients found that a cream with avocado oil and vitamin B12 as the active ingredients helped improv symptoms of psoriasis after 12 weeks of treatment. Various studies have also been performed to understand its ability to treat skin injuries. Studies with rats have found that it may accelerate wound healing.
- Neutralizes Free Radicals
Free radicals are a waste products of metabolism, which cause cellular damage in the body. High levels of antioxidants can lead to oxidative stress, which can further contribute to diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals by giving them electrons, which prevents them from causing harm. There are many types of free radicals, but the one that is most concerning is the oxygen-derived radicals known as reactive oxygen species (ROS). One study with diabetic rats showed that avocado oil can protect against the harmful effects of free radicals by entering the mitochondria. Once it gets there, it is able to neutralize free radicals and prevent them from damaging this important cell organ.
- May Reduce the Risk of Gum Disease
The combination of avocado oil and soybean oil isn’t just beneficial against arthritis. There is also some serious evidence that shows that it can help prevent periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease. It is an inflammatory disease, which includes symptoms such as red and bleeding gums, bad breath, and the breakdown of bone and tissues around the teeth. If the disease isn’t treated in time, it can cause tooth loss as well. According the a study in bone cells and periodontal tissue, ASU may block a protein called IL1B. This protein promotes inflammation in the body and is the main driver of tissue destruction and bone loss in gum disease.
How to Use Avocado Oil?
As mentioned before, the great thing about this oil is how versatile it is, making it very easy to be incorporated into any diet.
Avocado oil is one of the very few oils that can be consumed hot or cold. It is extracted from the pulp of an avocado, which classifies it as a cold pressed oil, since no heat or chemical is used during its extraction. This makes avocado oil safe to be consumed raw. However, it still has a high smoke point, which makes it safe for high heat cooking as well. Most cold pressed oils have a low smoke point, which causes them to burn if exposed to high heat. Hence, avocado oil is arguably the most versatile oil there is.
Following are a few ways you can easily add avocado oil to your diet.
- Adding a tablespoon of avocado oil to your smoothie is a great way to boost its health benefit.
- It can be used as an ingredients in your salad dressing, or can just be drizzled over the salad.
- It can be used as the man fat in marinades for grilling, roasting, or barbequing meat, chicken, fish, tofu, etc. In fact, it can be used in any sort of marinade.
- You can use avocado oil as a healthier alternative to butter or margarine in baked goods. Just remember to reduce the amount a little bit as compared to solid fats to get the right consistency.
- It can be drizzled over vegetables before roasting and baking.
- Although fried foods should be kept at a minimum in a healthy diet, if you are craving the occasional fried chicken, it is a good idea to fry the drumsticks in avocado oil to add some nutrition to it.
- You can use it to stir-fry or sauté vegetables, meat, etc.
- Cold soups, such as gazpacho, get a boost of taste and nutrition with a drizzle of avocado oil on top.
- You can also use it to swap the olive oil in hummus.
- Avocado oil can be used to make homemade mayo.
In fact, avocado oil can be used in place of any oil or fat that you can think of.
The only downside to avocado oil is that it tends to be on the expensive side. However, with the extensive list of benefits that it provides, it is worth investing a few extra bucks for it.
Risks Of Avocado Oil
Although avocado oil is largely safe for consumption, it is still a good idea to consult your doctor before making major changes to your diet. Since avocado oil is a high-fat food, it packs a lot of calories. Therefore, it should always be consumed in limited amounts.
You may however need to avoid it if any of the following is a concern for you:
- If you have avocado allergy, you will automatically be allergic to avocado oil as well. People who are allergic to birch pollen or latex are also more likely to be allergic to avocados. So if you have any of these allergies, consult with a doctor before adding avocado oil to your diet.
- Avocados have been proven to decrease the effectiveness of Wafarin (Coumadin). So if you’re taking this anticoagulant for any reason, then you’ll have to keep the oil out of your diet.
Whenever you buy avocado oil, male sure you opt for the cold-pressed version. Any other version will not have as many health benefits as the cold-pressed one.