Highest Smoke Point – Avocado Oil

Avocado Oil – the oil for everything!

Avocado oil, not one that usually gets a lot of attention, so this week we are going to let it take the spot light!

I find it useful to source oils that are multi-purpose e.g. can be used for pan frying, baking, dressing salads, etc., and that still main their nutritional properties.

Staples in my kitchen include extra virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil for salads, and  I do have some coconut oil to play around with in some of my baking ventures. Recently however, I have been fascinated by Avocado oil which has an interesting profile and I have decided makes the cut for a #TDapproved product.

On a side note – I have been lucky to have a little assistance putting together this post this week from a passionate nutrition blogger, Jacinta; Her blog- Quinoa Queen has a couple great wholefood based recipes you may like to check out!
Now back to the wonderful Avocado oil…

Similarly to Olive oil, Avocado oil can be extracted via ‘cold extraction’ methods, which ensures that the bioactive phytochemicals present in the fruit are maintained.

All oils have roughly the same energy content (being quite high, and as I have said previously, are ‘energy dense’), with around 3,500kJs per 100ml or 700kJs per tablespoon. One of their key differences is however in their ratios of saturated : monounsaturated : polyunsaturated fats.

Polyunsaturated (PUFA) and monounsaturated fats (MUFA) are known to lower total, and LDL cholesterol, and therefore have been promoted as beneficial for reducing ones risk of cardiovascular disease for many years.

There does seem to be some conflicting information around just how bad saturated fats are (or are not) for ones heart health, but for the moment, we will stick on the conservative side and go with the facts that these mono and polyunsaturated types of fats at least have a neutral or beneficial affect on cholesterol levels.

avocado oil nutrition facts

avocado oil nutrition facts

Avocado oil is rich in MUFA and has higher levels of PUFA than olive oil. It is also rich in Vitamins A, D and E – which are fat soluble vitamins that are beneficial for your skin, hair, maintaining vision and bone density (among other things!)… Sounding pretty good so far!?

Although lets have a specific look at PUFAs, given there has been great debate about these in recent years.

PUFAs can be split into two categories, Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s; and another consideration in assessing the nutritional properties of an oil is the ratio of these Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids.

omega 3 : omega 6 ratios of some common oils

omega 3 : omega 6 ratios of some common oils – source: http://paleozonenutrition.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/plant-fats-and-oils-omega-3-and-6.jpg

Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect, that is, they are beneficial in reducing internal inflammation, which is important in respect to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

Unfortunately, Omega 6 fatty acids have been shown to have the opposite effect when had in too high a volumes, having a pro-inflammatory effect in the body.

Rich sources of each of the PUFAs are quite different; Omega 6 PUFAs are found abundantly in seed oils such sunflower, soybean, safflower and corn oils; Whereas Omega 3 PUFAs are largely found in plant sources such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and canola oils in the plant based form Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA) (in marine sources such as fish oils the omega 3’s are in a more bioavailable form called DHA and EPA).

A few rich sources of omega 3's from plant sources found in this mix.

A few rich sources of omega 3’s from plant sources found in this mix.

Based on the available research in this area (which by the way is still emerging and by no means well established), the FAO: WHO Consultation on Fats and Oils (1994) recommended that a ratio of omega 6 : omega 3 of somewhere around 5:1 and 10:1 for LA (omega 6) : ALA (plant based omega 3) in the diet, may be a suitable guideline for maintaining health / preventing inflammation within the body, and anyone consuming a diet with a ratio higher than 10:1 should consider increasing their consumption of Omega 3 fats.

Avocado oil has an Omega 6 : Omega 3 ratio similar to that of Olive oil – around 13:1. As a comparison, Soybean oil has a ratio of 17:1, Corn oil has a ratio of 46:1 and Coconut oil, well it is around 4% Omega 6 and has no Omega 3 PUFAs.

olive oil

olive oil

Avocado oil doesn’t quite stack up against oils such as Canola (2:1) and Macadamia oil (1:1) and their respective ratios, however it should be noted that both of these oils whilst having a relatively high smoke point, still have a lower smoke point than Avocado oil (more on ‘smoke point’ below though).

avocado oil nutrition facts

avocado oil nutrition facts

I did talk about smoke points in one of my earlier blog posts, but just as a recap, oils that contain unsaturated fats are particularly susceptible to degradation and oxidation when heated to high temperatures, and this can lead to the production of substances that are damaging to ones health.

Avocado oil however, can be used for high temperature cooking like bbqing, pan frying and roasting due to its high level of MUFA and its high antioxidant and sterol content.

Sterols from plants (also called phytosterols) have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by 10-15% when combined with a healthy lifestyle, which is why we now see foods fortified with plant sterols like margarines (e.g Flora PROactive) and milk (e.g HeartActive Milk).

pura heart active milk fortified with plant sterols

pura heart active milk fortified with plant sterols

Avocado oil actually has a smoke point of 520°F/271°C, which is the highest smoke point compared with of A LOT of oils, including Soybean (495°F/257°C), Sunflower Oil (440°F/227°C), Coconut oil (350°F/177°C) and Extra Virgin Olive oil (405°F/207°C).

A 2012 study conducted in Spain found that Avocado oil had a similar level of stability when heated to high temperatures as regular Olive oil, meaning it maintains its healthful properties when heated (such as the MUFAs, PUFAs and phytosterols).

avocado oil

avocado oil

As it has a relatively neutral flavour, Avocado oil is also useful as a base for salad dressings, and is great to use when you’re looking for an oil that won’t add too much flavour (as some people find Extra Virgin Olive oil or Coconut oil often can).

I bought the Grove Avocado oil brand, but there really are plenty available these days as the popularity of this product increases.

Have you used it before?

Until next time,

Travelling Dietitian x

One Response

  1. Sacha inchi protein powder- High protein and omega 3 rich plant based protein – #TDapproved | The Travelling Dietitian

    […] only Omega 3, but also Omega 6 and Omega 9. I have written about the Omega 6/Omega 3 balance in the past, and it’s association with inflammation and other disorders. It is suggested that nature has […]

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