Avocado oil is the latest fashion food on the scene. It seems to have some great nutritional properties. But can it compare to olives? In the case of avocado oil vs olive oil, can there be a real winner? Let's explore the nutrition, health perks, and flavour profile to settle it once and for all!
About Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is a plant oil pressed from avocado fruit. It has been popular to use in cosmetics (it's an amazing moisturizer plus it can regenerate and rejuvenate mature skin) but only recently gained fad food status. There are quite a few surprising and unique things about avocado oil.
Where Does It Even Come From?
Avocado oil among the few culinary oils that don't come from the seeds of a plant. It is derived directly from the fruit. You know that white fleshy pulp around an avocado's pit? This is what producers cold press (and then sometimes treated with other chemicals) to bring out the oil. There are around 65% of water in avocado flesh. This is extracted through a drying process before the avocado even makes it to the factory. If you ever tried to scrape that fleshy part of the avocado pulp, you know it does not exactly taste like the rest of the fruit. This is why some avocado oils don't resemble the avo taste at all. The 'Fuerte' variety, for instance, has a flavour profile that leans on mushroom-y, rather than avocado-y.
The Deep Green Gold
The 'gold standard' in avocado oil is the 'Hass' cultivar with its' very characteristic colour, aroma, and taste. It comes out a deep green colour - almost emerald and very brilliant. This is because 'Hass' avo oil has very high levels of chlorophylls, the same chemicals that make leaves green (and that have been known for their health benefits for quite a while now). The rich and buttery flavour, combined with the powerful aroma make 'Hass' avocado oil a valuable ingredient in many recipes... But definitely not a kitchen staple! Unlike other oils, like olive oil, which possesses a subtle but pleasant smell, avocado oil can overpower other products in a dish. It's delicious and nutritious, that is for sure. Avocado oil, however, lacks the versatility of olive oil, or the neutral flavour of butter.
Avocado Oil Vs Olive Oil: Cosmetics
Avocado oil was originally used for cosmetic purposes only. It is still a key ingredient in many beauty products, mainly for its' amazing skin penetration properties. Avo oil is absorbed fast and it doesn't leave a residual feeling of greasiness on the skin. At the same time, it is very highly nourishing. Mature skin, in particular, can benefit greatly from the use of avocado oil. It is important to remember that cosmetics with avo oil do not use the food grade stuff. This is unfortunate because avocado oil for the beauty industry can often contain trace amounts of solvents. It is also often oxidized, due to the use of high heat during the extraction process. The bleaching, refining, and the removal of aromas yield a yellowish odourless oil, which then goes into your skin cream. Some brands choose to use cold-pressed oil to provide additional benefits. However, for the most part, avo oil in our beauty products has nothing to do with the food grade stuff you can put in your salad. Olive oil, on the other hand, is best used as a part of homemade health and beauty products. We did a whole article on those. They can deliver all the goodness of pure extra virgin olive oil straight to your skin!
Avocado Oil Vs Olive Oil NutritionAvocado oil is actually very similar to olive oil. It has a similar fat profile and is naturally low in acid. Much like olives, avocados provide mostly monounsaturated fats. This is the saturated to monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fat ratio for olive oil:
- Saturated fat: 13.8%.
- Monounsaturated fat: 73%
- Polyunsaturated fat: around 10% or less
- Saturated fat: 11%
- Monounsaturated fat: 71%
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 14%
As you can see, the monounsaturated fat profile is very similar. This sort of chemical composition helps increase smoke point. Avocado oil has an unusually high smoke point, even higher than olive oil. Both the unrefined and refined olive oil has a smoke point way over 400°F!
Smoke Point: Does It Even Matter?
Every oil and fat source have a smoke point. This is a temperature, under which, the oil will begin emitting a bluish smoke. It's not the smoke that is bad, however. The dangerous part is oxidation. When a compound oxidises, it reacts with the oxygen in the atmosphere. This produces free radicals, highly reactive chemicals that can harm you down to the molecular level. You want to avoid free radicals as much as you can. They are the primary cause of cell ageing and they've even been associated with causing cancer. A high smoke point means that you can safely heat an oil without producing oxidation. Both extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil have a fairly high smoke point. The 'Hass' extra virgin avocado oil can be safely heated up to 480 °F (249 °C)! But you don't actually need that much...
What Makes A Good Cooking OilThere are three basic ways of making food with heat:
- Frying on a pan
- Deep frying, submerged in hot oil
- Baking and roasting
This is over-simplified, of course. The point is, however, that the highest temperature reached in the kitchen is around 180°C (356°F). Even in ovens that heat up to 240°C (464°F), the food does not heat above 180°C (356°F). You don't need an oil with a higher smoke point than that. A higher smoke point is not better - in fact, it can often mean that the oil is overly refined or contains harmful trace chemicals. Both olive oil and avocado oil have a fairly high smoke point. They are perfect for high-heat cooking. You can use olive oil for baking, stir-frying, deep-frying, searing, barbecuing, roasting, sauteing and all sorts of other kitchen methods! As a matter of fact, it is one of the best oils for stir-frying because it has a subtle flavour that enhances the dish without overpowering it! The bottom line here is simple: the smoke point should not matter in the avocado oil vs olive oil debate. Both of them make great cooking oils and you should only be concerned with flavour and nutrition. When it comes to taste, olive oil is definitely at an advantage. It is a lot more subtle and this makes it suitable for a wider range of recipes. Not to mention that the taste of olive oil compliments dishes better than avocados do.
The Vitamins In Avocado Oil Vs Olive Oil
Both olive oil and avocado oil are sources of vitamin E. This essential fat-soluble compound has a number of jobs in our body. Vitamin E is one of the key antioxidants, that protects our system from ageing and stops tumours from forming within the very first stages of cancer genesis. Additionally, olive oil is rich in phenols. Extra virgin olive oil is one of the best antioxidant sources you can add to your diet. Not only is it delicious, but it's also extremely beneficial for your health, especially heart health. The Mediterranean diet uses olive oil as a main fat source and it's one of the few dietary changes you can make to directly reduce your risk of heart disease. Avocado oil, on the other hand, contains beta-Sitosterol which seems to modestly reduce cholesterol levels. The research on sitosterol is still in beginning stages so we can't be sure it has the same benefits like the antioxidants in olive oil.
Avocado Oil Vs Olive Oil: The Bottom Line
Avocado oil and olive oil are surprisingly similar. They are can even be made in the same factories! In Australia and New Zealand, processing plants make olive oil while olives are in season. For the rest of the year, they produce avocado oil, since the avocado is a year-round crop. Unlike the case of grapeseed oil Vs olive oil (that we looked into in a recent article), this is a more balanced case. Avo oil and olive oil are similar in nutrition and they are both safe to use in high-heat cooking. Contrary to popular believe, avocado oil is not somehow better than other, lower smoke point oils. It does have a high resistance to heat, which is a good thing, it's just not a significant advantage. In terms of flavour, it's all a matter of personal preference. Some recipes call specifically for avocado oil. Its' particular taste and aroma make a great addition to other ingredients. For the most part, however, avocado oil tends to overpower the other products in a dish. It is not suitable to combine with a lot of less flavourful wines. It's also not perfect for simple salads - you will only be able to taste the avocado! The take home lesson is: Get olive oil as a kitchen staple, use avo oil in recipes that call for it. Enjoy the antioxidant power of both!
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