Avocado Oil Vs.
Olive Oil: Is One Healthier?
The Facts About Avocado Oil & Olive Oils
The health benefits of avocados are well known among the general public. They include their high content of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and may even prevent heart disease. These fats have also been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve glucose tolerance.
However, there are other benefits of avocados such as their ability to increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, which can help protect against heart disease. Avocados contain vitamin E, potassium and fiber.
Olive oils are another healthy fat source that contains good amounts of MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids). They are considered to be a “healthy” fat because they do not raise blood cholesterol levels and have been found to decrease risk factors for heart disease. However, it must be noted that these fats have some negative effects on your body when consumed in excess.
For example, consuming too much saturated fat increases the risk of developing coronary artery disease, while too little polyunsaturated fat reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
To further complicate the matter, there are different types of both avocados and olive oils, all of which have different effects on your body. There are about 20 varieties of avocados, and some have a higher fat content than others. For example, the common avocado (Persea americana), also known as the “alligator pear,” contains about 21 grams of fat per cup (285 grams).
This type of avocado also contains about 14 grams of carbohydrates and 4.6 grams of protein per cup.
Of the 20 varieties, the most common types consumed are the Haas, which has a pebbled green skin and soft texture, and the rough skinned, almost rubbery Fuerte, which is much higher in fat (1/3rd more) than the common Haas.
Unlike the common avocado, the Puebla avocados contain much higher amounts of oleic acid (about 75% of its fat content), and lower levels of the fatty acids that contain polyunsaturated fats. These properties make it similar to olive oil, which is only about 13% oleic acid.
There are many different types of olives, all with different taste and fat content. The most commonly known and used olive is the large, green Mediterranean type, which accounts for about 95 percent of all olives grown. These are usually used to make virgin olive oil.
Unlike the avocados, there are only two main types of olives that are consumed: the ripe fruit and the immature green fruit. The ripe fruit has a bitter taste that is removed in processing to make “olive oil.” Olive oil is made by a process of first crushing the ripe olives and mixing them with water, where carbohydrates and proteins are removed.
The oil then goes through additional steps to refine, bleach and deodorize it. The remaining product is what most people think of when they purchase bottled “olive oil.” It has a relatively low smoke point (365F), so it should not be used for cooking.
It is mostly used for salad dressing and dipping.
The less common green, immature olives are primarily used to produce canned green olives. These are also crushed and treated with lye to remove the bitter taste before they are canned in water. The oil from these olives cannot be used because of the chemical treatment, so they are discarded.
They are mainly used in cooking because of their mild taste and lower cost.
This type of olive contains a larger amount of polyunsaturated fats, about 21 percent compared to the roughly 13 percent contained in the ripe olive oil. It also has a higher level of oleic acid (75 percent), which is why it may be helpful in lowering LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) levels while leaving the HDL (the “good” cholesterol) levels unchanged.
Most studies showing a benefit from the Mediterranean diet include olive oil as an ingredient. It may be that the whole diet is responsible for the health benefits, and not just one ingredient. However, olives and olive oil do contain antioxidants and have been associated with a lower risk of certain diseases.
The main advantage of using olive oil over other oils may boil down to cost and availability. Olive oil is usually less expensive than most other oils and is more commonly available.
While it is possible that either one of these oils is more beneficial than the other, there is no evidence to support this claim. Both have a place in a healthy diet and can be used interchangeably as long as calories are kept in mind. Both contain about the same amount of fat (100 grams contains 15 grams of fat), but the avocado has about 20 more calories than the olive.
One thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the growing method for these two oils. Most commercially-grown avocados are grown in California, which has been experiencing a severe drought for many months. This will no doubt affect the supply and therefore the price of avocados in the coming year.
Olive trees require more time and effort to produce fruit, so they might not be as readily available as they have been in the past. This could lead to price increases for this oil, especially with the added costs of importing them from outside of the United States.
In summary, both of these oils have their benefits and drawbacks. They can both be used for general cooking, but neither one is ideal for high temperature cooking (olive oil smokes at lower temperatures). Avocado oil has a mild taste while olive oil is more robust, so this might be a deciding factor for some people.
From a nutrition standpoint, either one is a good choice if it helps you meet your fat intake goals for the day. From a cost standpoint, prices may vary but olive oil is usually less expensive. If you can get fresh produce from your area and grow your own vegetables and fruit, then you might want to consider doing that to save money.
Whichever one you decide to use, just make sure it is a healthy fat and that you are not using too much of it. Contrary to popular belief, fat is not inherently bad and our bodies do need it. However, too much of anything is bad for you, so keep this in mind when preparing your meals and planning your diet.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Stability of avocado oil during heating: Comparative study to olive oil by I Berasategi, B Barriuso, D Ansorena, I Astiasarán – Food chemistry, 2012 – Elsevier
Avocado oil extraction processes: method for cold-pressed high-quality edible oil production versus traditional production by G Costagli, M Betti – Journal of Agricultural Engineering, 2015 – agroengineering.org
Healthy food spreads by S Eger, I Neeman – US Patent 6,117,476, 2000 – Google Patents
Avocado oil: Characteristics, properties, and applications by M Flores, C Saravia, CE Vergara, F Avila, H Valdés… – Molecules, 2019 – mdpi.com
Lycopene-rich avocado oil obtained by simultaneous supercritical extraction from avocado pulp and tomato pomace by HDFQ Barros, R Grimaldi, FA Cabral – The journal of supercritical fluids, 2017 – Elsevier
Avocado, sunflower and olive oils as replacers of pork back-fat in burger patties: Effect on lipid composition, oxidative stability and quality traits by JG Rodríguez-Carpena, D Morcuende, M Estévez – Meat science, 2012 – Elsevier
Bioactive compounds and quality parameters of avocado oil obtained by different processes by FD Krumreich, CD Borges, CRB Mendonça… – Food chemistry, 2018 – Elsevier
Avocado oil: a new edible oil from Australasia by L Eyres, N Sherpa, G Hendriks – Lipid Technol, 2001 – researchgate.net