Avocado Oil Offers Health Benefits Comparable to Olive Oil
Did you know that avocado oil, extracted from the pulp of ripe avocados, shares many of the much-touted health benefits of extra virgin olive oil? For example, avocado oil is packed with monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, which are abundant in olive oil and which are a key part of cardioprotective diets such as the Mediterranean diet. Avocado oil – just like olive oil – is rich in oleic acid, a type of MUFA that may help curb appetite. What's more, this mildly flavored oil is an excellent source of vitamin E, chlorophyll, and carotenoids. To learn all about how various nutrients and other healthy compounds found in foodgrade avocado oil can improve your health, keep reading.
Drop in Cholesterol Levels
Neither avocado oil nor whole avocados contain cholesterol. But that's not the only reason why people who are worried about elevated cholesterol levels might want to start using avocado oil in cooking. Turns out that monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFAs – which are abundant in avocado oil, olive oil, and grapeseed oil – can reduce both total cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol levels (in case you forgot, LDL cholesterol is the so-called "bad cholesterol"). A study published in the April 1991 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when the study participants followed a MUFA diet (50% carbohydrates, 32% MUFAs, 18% protein), their total plasma cholesterol levels decreased by approximately 10%.
Not only do whole avocados have appetite-suppressing qualities, but also the oil pressed from them may help stave off hunger pangs. Avocado oil – along with whole avocados, olive oil, and a few other foods – is rich in oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fatty acid that converts into oleoylethanolamide (OEA) when it reaches the small intestine. OEA, in turn, is a type of lipid hormone that activates a brain area that increases the feeling of satiety.
A wonderful source of vitamin E
If the health benefits of avocado oil described above are not enough to convince you to become a fan of this healthy cooking oil, consider this: both avocado oil and whole avocados are excellent dietary sources of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that helps protect your body from free radicals, unstable molecules that promote aging and that may increase your risk of developing certain chronic illnesses. In addition, vitamin E has been shown to reduce muscle damage after exercise by repairing torn plasma membranes, and to improve overall muscle strength.
Benefits for the skin
Extra virgin olive oil may have got all the hype for being good for the skin, but avocado oil deserves its own spotlight. The MUFAs in avocado oil help keep your skin soft by moisturizing it from the inside, while the antioxidant activities of vitamin E and carotenoids help combat signs of aging such as wrinkles and fine lines. Take note, though: avocado oil starts to lose its antioxidant nutrients when it's exposed to heat and light, so you want to make sure you store the oil bottle in a cool, dark place.
How to Use and Store Avocado Oil
To reap the health benefits of avocado oil, add a few spoons of this superfood oil to a salad dressing or dip. Thanks to its relatively high smoke point (520 °F or 271 °C), it can also be used for frying and sauteing foods.
In order to ensure avocado oil retains its nutritional value and flavor, store it in a dark, cool place. You'll also want to keep an eye on the expiration date as consuming old, rancid vegetable oils can pose a risk to your health.
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