[This article originally appeared on The Alternative Daily here.]
As a native Californian, I can attest to the fact that we’re simply obsessed with avocados. Perhaps it’s the fact that they come from sun-kissed fields and taste like a perfect blend of savory and sweet, or the fact that they contain healthy saturated fat that’s great for the waistline. In any case, avocados are life. And, it turns out, the oil from this humble fruit is just as beneficial to use in your cooking. Here are six reasons why you should get on board with avocado oil.
A quick word on cooking oils
Before we talk about the benefits of avocado oil, let’s first cover why you should toss your vegetable oils — like canola — right now. For starters, it’s absolutely awful for your health. Canola oil comes from the rapeseed plant, which typically comes from GMO seeds. The seeds are then heavily processed using high temperatures, mechanical pressing, solvents and bleach. In the process, the fatty acids are converted into trans fatty acids, which researchers have linked to dangerous conditions like high blood pressure and heart failure.
Interestingly, canola oil was banned for human consumption by the FDA in 1956. Thanks to marketing, the decision was reversed three decades later, leading Americans to think it’s a-okay when it’s anything but safe. Today, canola oil is still a registered pesticide with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — is that really something you want to be eating?
Instead, stock your kitchen with healthy cooking oils, like coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil. And if you haven’t already, it’s time to pick up a bottle of avocado oil from your nearest health food store. Far from “greasy” oils like vegetable or soybean varieties, avocado oil has a pleasant texture, taste and aroma. Here are a few other reasons to try it:
1. It’s great for high-heat cooking
Even uber-healthy olive oil can become harmful once it reaches its smoke point, the temperature at which the oil smokes in the pan. When an oil gets to this point, the chemical structure breaks down and creates compounds like lipid oxidation products (LOP) that could compromise your health. Fortunately, avocado oil has one of the highest smoke points out there at 520 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for high-heat cooking.
2. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals
Avocado oil gives your body a healthy dose of antioxidants, which can halt free-radical damage in its tracks. This rich oil contains three times as many carotenoids as olive oil, helping your body fight off cancer and reduce the signs of aging. In addition, avocado oil contains vitamin E to boost immunity and protect your heart, eyes and more.
3. It boosts nutrient absorption
Avocado oil contains special fat-based compounds to help our bodies utilize the nutrients from other food sources. Researchers have found that just two tablespoons of avocado oil can increase carotenoid absorption in fruits and vegetables by up to 400 percent! In addition to cooking with it, you may want to use avocado oil in your next batch of homemade dressing and drizzle it over some greens for maximum effect.
4. It can support a healthy heart
Avocado oil contains a hearty amount of beta-sitosterol, which is used by our bodies to break down “bad” fats and turn them into something more beneficial. Researchers have found that food enriched with beta-sitosterol lead to a decrease in accumulated body fat in lab rats. In addition, the monounsaturated fatty acids in avocado oil help to prevent the buildup of plaque on arterial walls which is often linked to cardiovascular disease.
5. It kills cancer cells
This may seem far-fetched, but researchers have found that the carotenoid content in avocados can help to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in vitro. And with their monounsaturated fat content, these bioactive carotenoids are more likely to be absorbed into the bloodstream. This means they can spread around the body and do their job even better. Nice!
6. It can stabilize blood pressure
If your doctor is concerned about your blood pressure, try adding avocado oil into the mix. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that a diet rich in avocado oil changed the levels of fatty acids in the kidneys, positively impacting blood pressure.
How to use avocado oil
Now that you know all about the health benefits, it’s time to get cooking. There are countless ways to incorporate avocado oil into your favorite recipes. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Breakfast: Scramble two cage-free eggs with a tablespoon of avocado oil.
- Lunch: Mix oil with balsamic vinegar, lemon and rosemary for DIY salad dressing.
- Dinner: Marinade veggies or meat with avocado oil, salt, pepper, cayenne and cajun.
- Baking: Use avocado oil anywhere you’d normally use butter or margarine.
- Snacks: Drizzle oil over popcorn with a dash of lime juice and sea salt.
- Spreads: Add avocado oil to homemade mayo or spiced aioli.
Bonus: Use avocado oil in your beauty routine
There are more than a few ways to use avocado oil outside of your kitchen, such as a moisturizing hair mask or cuticle oil for your nails. And with its rich nutritional profile, researchers have found that avocado oil is beneficial for your skin, too.
For example, a study in the Journal of Dermatology found that a cream containing avocado oil and vitamin B12 was beneficial for treating psoriasis. So, if you’re having issues with acne, eczema, psoriasis, irritation, dryness or flakiness, try this remedy:
- Dampen affected skin with a warm, wet cloth.
- Gently massage light layer of avocado oil onto the skin, then let it absorb.
- Repeat multiple times a day for at least a week for best results.
What’s your favorite way to use avocado oil? Let us known in the comments below.
— Hilary Lebow