Nutrients in avocado oil
- Monounsaturated fats like oleic acid, which makes up 63% of the fat content, and lecithin, a kind of fat molecule
- Polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols or PFA, unique lipid molecules in avocado
- Vitamin E (chiefly alpha-tocopherol)
- Carotenoids, the chief one being lutein (some carotenoids generate vitamin A)
- Phytosterols, including beta sitosterol
- Vitamin D
Avocado oil is not a recent fad. The 16th-century Spanish historian Bernabé Cobo who visited America in 1596 also reported the use of avocado oil for cooking. Food historian Sophie D. Coe writes in America’s First Cuisines that, with a high oil content of 30% in its flesh, the avocado was a staple in the low-fat diet of pre-Columbia America.1
And why not? The benefits of avocado oil for skin, hair, and health include moisturizing; fighting sun damage; reducing signs of aging; healing acne, psoriasis, and wounds; treating dandruff; preventing heart disease and cancer; relieving pain and inflammation; aiding fat burning; and protecting the eyes.
Avocado oil is extracted from the pulp of the fruit and not the seed. It’s best to use the unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin type that retains some of the nutrients that may otherwise be lost in the heat of the conventional extraction process.2 The water-soluble vitamins like B and C, though, are lost during extraction.
While cooking with avocado oil has still not caught on, the cosmetic industry leverages the many benefits of avocado oil for skin and hair. Many creams, cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens contain avocado oil. Here’s why.
1. Provides Deep Moisturization
Tip: Apply extra-virgin avocado oil on your face after cleansing your face. Wash it off the morning after so as not to clog the skin pores.
Avocado oil can penetrate into the second layer of the skin (dermis) and provide deep moisturizing with its oleic acid and phytosterols. People who have a dry and sensitive skin type are usually advised to use oils rich in oleic acid. The lecithin in avocado oil helps boost collagen, and the pro-vitamin A carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin enhance the skin’s natural antioxidant store.3
This makes avocado oil an ideal night cream that aids in the skin repair process. Unlike most night creams, it contains the antioxidant vitamin E, which is essential to undo the ill effects of the UV rays you encounter through the day. The skin-damaging effects of the sun can continue long after you have been exposed.
2. Prevents Skin Damage From Sun Rays
For most people, exposure to the sun and its harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is unavoidable. As a result, the skin undergoes damage in the form of photo aging or premature skin aging. These rays have the power to also damage the DNA and lead to skin cancer. Tanning beds and sun lamps are similarly harmful.
Studies have found that avocados, and by extension avocado oil, can both prevent and treat skin damage, thanks to their PFA. In a study, when PFA was injected into skin cells before they were exposed to UVB rays:
- The skin cells showed increased ability to recover.
- The secretion of inflammation-inducing chemicals was decreased.
- DNA repair was enhanced.
PFA could also repair skin cells already damaged by the UV rays.4 Along with the PFA, vitamin E helps fight UVA rays and reverses skin damage.
That said, applying just avocado oil before stepping into the sun might not be a wise idea. Instead use a sunscreen enriched with avocado oil. After you come back in from the sun, clean your face and apply some avocado oil or avocado pulp to help skin repair.
3. Fights Signs Of Aging
Tip: Mix 2 tsps of avocado oil with 1/2 tsp castor oil for cleaning away makeup. This is a safe and gentle alternative to the harsh alcohol-based makeup cleansers that disturb the acidic balance of the skin.
Avocado oil has benefits not just for a sun-damaged skin but any skin that shows the signs of natural aging like wrinkles, dryness, and flaccidity.
- Vitamin E and lecithin in avocado help boost the collagen in the skin, giving it firmness.
- Vitamin E and carotenoids also prevent inflammation and keep wrinkles from showing on the skin.
- The fatty acids in avocado oil penetrate into the second layer of the skin, moisturizing it well and preventing aging-related dryness and wrinkles.
Just dab some cold-pressed organic avocado oil on your face at night and wake up to hydrated and smooth skin in the morning.
4. Prevents And Treats Acne
You can prevent and cure acne by using avocado oil. This oil keeps the skin hydrated without leaving it too oily, which reduces the risk of acne. It can also help with its linoleic acid content since the lack of linoleate in the sebum-producing skin cells is linked to acne.5
5. Relieves Eczema And Psoriasis
Avocado oil mixed with vitamin B12 has been found to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis, a condition where skin cells build up to form dry, scaly, and itchy patches on the skin. In this, the avocado oil and B12 mixture is even more portent than a vitamin E cream.6
6. Heals Wounds Faster
An animal study in the journal Evidence-based Alternative and Competitive Medicine found that avocado oil heals wounds better than petroleum jelly. The oil reduced inflammation and made the skin firmer and stronger by boosting the collagen density and tensile strength of the skin.7
7. May Reduce Dark Circles
It’s difficult to find a mild under-eye cream to remove dark circles and wrinkles. Avocado oil’s ability to penetrate into the second layer of the skin and spread well makes it good for the delicate skin around the eyes. It may also help with dark circles as it also contains vitamin A and E which, combined with vitamin C and K, have been known to help reduce dark circles and under-eye wrinkles.8
8. Helps Hair Growth
Apply avocado oil onto your scalp and massage well.
Apart from its monounsaturated fats like oleic acid that moisturize the scalp, avocado oil contains vitamin D, which is crucial for the generation of new hair follicles. Some researchers claim vitamin D to be vital to people suffering from hair loss.9
9. Fights Dandruff
Dandruff is a result of scalp dryness. With its monounsaturated fats, avocado oil can prevent dandruff formation by alleviating the dryness of the scalp.10 Avocado oil can also cure dandruff caused by psoriasis. But avoid avocado oil if the dandruff is caused by seborrheic dermatitis as oleic acid is known to worsen the flakiness.11
10. May Improve Nail Health
If you have rough, dry, and brittle nails, avocado oil may help. It can penetrate deep into the inner layers of the nail cuticle and provide adequate hydration and nourishment to the nails. Apply avocado-based cuticle oil or rub the extra-virgin oil onto your nails.
11. Lowers Risk Of Heart Disease
If you do not have access to fresh avocados or do not like the fruit’s taste, cook your dishes with cold-pressed, extra-virgin or virgin avocado oil. While the extraction process may remove the water-soluble vitamins and the fiber, the oil will still contain a high amount of healthy monounsaturated fats. Just 1 tablespoon of the oil contains 14 g fat, of which 9.8 g is monounsaturated and 1.8 g polyunsaturated.12
Because of its high chlorophyll content, the extra-virgin oil will have an emerald green color. The flavor depends on the type of the fruit. While cold-pressed Hass avocado has a typical avocado flavor, with a hint of buttery flavor, the Fuerte variety has a mushroom flavor.
Use the unrefined oil for light cooking and as salad dressing. The refined one, with a high “smoke point” of 255 ºC (490 F), which is much higher than that of olive oil, can be used for deep frying.
The fatty acids and the plant sterols in avocado oil make it good for people with high cholesterol. While it increases the good HDL cholesterol,13 it reduces both LDLs and triglycerides.14 For people with normal cholesterol levels, it can maintain the balance between HDLs and LDLs.
Avocado oil also fights inflammation in the body, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.15
12. Fights Inflammation
As mentioned before, the bulk of the fat found in avocado oil is oleic acid, which reduces inflammation in the body. In one study, it was seen that the levels of high sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body, were inversely related to oleic acid intake.16 This anti-inflammatory effect is what gives avocado oil the power to reduce the risk of heart disease and heal the pain related with arthritis, which brings us to our next point.
13. Can Improve Symptoms Of Arthritis
As per the Arthritis Foundation, avocado is the fruit to eat to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis, a painful condition that causes inflammation of the joints. Besides oleic acid, the carotenoid lutein and vitamin E in avocado oil can help alleviate symptoms with their anti-inflammatory properties and help lower the risk of joint damage.17
In one study, 1 part avocado oil mixed with 2 parts soybean oil could help block inflammation, reduce degeneration of cells lining the joints, and even regenerate normal connective tissue. This extract was found effective in treating patients with symptomatic hip osteoarthritis.18
14. Increases Absorption Of Certain Nutrients
It helps to drizzle some avocado oil on your fruit salads or cook your carrots in avocado oil. The antioxidant carotenoids in food need an oil base to be absorbed into the body. Avocado oil helps in this. A study found that adding avocado oil to a salad could significantly increase the absorption of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lutein.19
15. Improves Eye Health
The carotenoids lutein and xeazanthin are good for your eyesight. In fact, lack of lutein in diet could cause age-related eye dysfunction. But diets rich in monounsaturated fatty acids have a protective effect against this dysfunction as they help in the absorption of these carotenoids. This carotenoid-monounsaturated fatty acid combination is what makes avocado oil good for eye health.20
16. Aids In Weight Loss
When you are trying to lose weight, choosing the right cooking oil is important. Most nutrients, apart from fiber, that make avocados good for weight loss also make avocado oil a good cooking oil when you are trying to shed pounds.
Avocado oil has a high oleic acid content, and it has been seen that a diet containing oleic acid can increase physical activity by 13.5% and post-meal metabolism by 4.5% compared to a diet rich in saturated fats.21
By increasing insulin sensitivity in the body and improving glucose metabolism, it also helps distribute the fat all over the body and not just in the belly.22
17. Helps Prevent And Treat Cancer
The oleic acid in avocado oil as well as the carotenoids and vitamin E can check the growth of precancerous and cancer cells and even induce cell death in abnormal cells. The carotenoids also reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.23 24 25
Remember to always buy the unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin version whether you want to cook with avocado oil or use it for your skin and hair.
Your Doubts Answered
Can I Swap My Regular Refined Oil With Avocado Oil For Cooking? If Not, What Can I Cook It With?
[expert_opinion expertname=’tomsokolowski’ opinion=”Avocado oil is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and has a high smoke point so is a great choice for cooking. Refined vegetable and seed oils tend to be high in inflammatory omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. When a chemical bond is unsaturated it is very reactive and the more bonds there are the more reactive a molecule is. This means that polyunsaturated vegetable and seed oils tend to form inflammatory lipid peroxides when exposed to light, heat, and oxygen. Monounsaturated oils such as extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil are more stable for cooking and saturated fats like coconut oil are even more stable.”]
[expert_opinion expertname=’jenniferkanaan’ opinion=”You can use avocado oil for anything, sautéing, pan-frying, baking, roasting, marinating, dipping and drizzling.”]
|↑1||Coe, Sophie D. America’s first cuisines. University of Texas Press, 1994, p. 45.|
|↑2||What is unrefined, extra virgin cold-pressed avocado oil?. The American Oil Chemists’ Society.|
|↑3||Palombo, P., G. Fabrizi, V. Ruocco, E. Ruocco, J. Fluhr, R. Roberts, and P. Morganti. “Beneficial long-term effects of combined oral/topical antioxidant treatment with the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin on human skin: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” Skin pharmacology and physiology 20, no. 4 (2007): 199-210.|
|↑4||Rosenblat, Meretski, and Segal. “Polyhyroxylated fatty alcohols derived from avocado suppress inflammatory response and provide non-sunscreen protection against UV-induced damage in skin cells.” Archives of Dermatological Research (Volume 303, Issue 4, p 239-246).|
|↑5||Kanlayavattanakul, M., and N. Lourith. “Therapeutic agents and herbs in topical application for acne treatment.” International journal of cosmetic science 33, no. 4 (2011): 289-297.|
|↑6||Stücker, Markus, Ulrike Memmel, Matthias Hoffmann, Joachim Hartung, and Peter Altmeyer. “Vitamin B12 cream containing avocado oil in the therapy of plaque psoriasis.” Dermatology 203, no. 2 (2001): 141-147.|
|↑7||de Oliveira, Ana Paula, Eryvelton de Souza Franco, Rafaella Rodrigues Barreto, Daniele Pires Cordeiro, Rebeca Gonçalves de Melo, Camila Maria Ferreira de Aquino, Paloma Lys de Medeiros, Teresinha Gonçalves da Silva, Alexandre José da Silva Góes, and Maria Bernadete de Sousa Maia. “Effect of semisolid formulation of Persea americana Mill (avocado) oil on wound healing in rats.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).|
|↑8||Mitsuishi, T., T. Shimoda, Y. Mitsui, Y. Kuriyama, and S. Kawana. “The effects of topical application of phytonadione, retinol and vitamins C and E on infraorbital dark circles and wrinkles of the lower eyelids.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology 3, no. 2 (2004): 73-75.|
|↑9||Aoi, Noriyuki, Keita Inoue, Toshihiro Chikanishi, Ryoji Fujiki, Hanako Yamamoto, Harunosuke Kato, Hitomi Eto et al. “1α, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 modulates the hair-inductive capacity of dermal papilla cells: therapeutic potential for hair regeneration.” Stem cells translational medicine 1, no. 8 (2012): 615-626.|
|↑10||Malmgren, Janice K., and Sonya K. Moreno. “Conditioner that provides skin like an angel.” U.S. Patent 6,544,534, issued April 8, 2003.|
|↑11||DeAngelis, Yvonne M., Christina M. Gemmer, Joseph R. Kaczvinsky, Dianna C. Kenneally, James R. Schwartz, and Thomas L. Dawson. “Three etiologic facets of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis: Malassezia fungi, sebaceous lipids, and individual sensitivity.” In Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 295-297. Elsevier, 2005.|
|↑12||Full Report (All Nutrients): 04581, Oil, avocado. USDA.|
|↑13||Kritchevsky, David, Shirley A. Tepper, Scott Wright, Susanne K. Czarnecki, Thomas A. Wilson, and Robert J. Nicolosi. “Cholesterol vehicle in experimental atherosclerosis 24: avocado oil.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 22, no. 1 (2003): 52-55.|
|↑14, ↑20||Dreher, Mark L., and Adrienne J. Davenport. “Hass avocado composition and potential health effects.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 53, no. 7 (2013): 738-750.|
|↑15||Carvajal-Zarrabal, Octavio, Cirilo Nolasco-Hipolito, M. Guadalupe Aguilar-Uscanga, Guadalupe Melo-Santiesteban, Patricia M. Hayward-Jones, and Dulce M. Barradas-Dermitz. “Avocado oil supplementation modifies cardiovascular risk profile markers in a rat model of sucrose-induced metabolic changes.” Disease markers 2014 (2014).|
|↑16||Yoneyama, Satoko, Katsuyuki Miura, Satoshi Sasaki, Katsushi Yoshita, Yuko Morikawa, Masao Ishizaki, Teruhiko Kido, Yuchi Naruse, and Hideaki Nakagawa. “Dietary intake of fatty acids and serum C-reactive protein in Japanese.” Journal of epidemiology 17, no. 3 (2007): 86-92.|
|↑17||Best Fruits for Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation.|
|↑18||Maheu, Emmanuel, Christian Cadet, Marc Marty, Dominique Moyse, Isabelle Kerloch, Philippe Coste, Maxime Dougados et al. “Randomised, controlled trial of avocado–soybean unsaponifiable (Piascledine) effect on structure modification in hip osteoarthritis: the ERADIAS study.” Annals of the rheumatic diseases (2013): annrheumdis-2012.|
|↑19||Unlu, Nuray Z., Torsten Bohn, Steven K. Clinton, and Steven J. Schwartz. “Carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa by humans is enhanced by the addition of avocado or avocado oil.” The Journal of nutrition 135, no. 3 (2005): 431-436.|
|↑21||Kien, C. Lawrence, Janice Y. Bunn, Connie L. Tompkins, Julie A. Dumas, Karen I. Crain, David B. Ebenstein, Timothy R. Koves, and Deborah M. Muoio. “Substituting dietary monounsaturated fat for saturated fat is associated with increased daily physical activity and resting energy expenditure and with changes in mood.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 97, no. 4 (2013): 689-697.|
|↑22||Paniagua, Juan Antonio, A. Gallego De La Sacristana, I. Romero, A. Vidal-Puig, J. M. Latre, E. Sanchez, P. Perez-Martinez, J. Lopez-Miranda, and F. Perez-Jimenez. “Monounsaturated fat–rich diet prevents central body fat distribution and decreases postprandial adiponectin expression induced by a carbohydrate-rich diet in insulin-resistant subjects.” Diabetes care 30, no. 7 (2007): 1717-1723|
|↑23||Paul, Rajkumar, Paresh Kulkarni, and Narayan Ganesh. “Avocado fruit (Persea americana Mill) exhibits chemo-protective potentiality against cyclophosphamide induced genotoxicity in human lymphocyte culture.” J Exp Ther Oncol 9, no. 3 (2011): 221-30.|
|↑24||Menendez, Javier A., and Ruth Lupu. “Mediterranean dietary traditions for the molecular treatment of human cancer: anti-oncogenic actions of the main olive oil’s monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid (18: 1n-9).” Current pharmaceutical biotechnology 7, no. 6 (2006): 495-502.|
|↑25||Lu, Qing-Yi, James R. Arteaga, Qifeng Zhang, Sergio Huerta, Vay Liang W. Go, and David Heber. “Inhibition of prostate cancer cell growth by an avocado extract: role of lipid-soluble bioactive substances.” The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 16, no. 1 (2005): 23-30.|