Avocado Oil: What's Not to Love?
©by Victoria Challancin
Nourishing for the skin, moisturizing for the hair, endorsed by the Heart Foundation, loved by chefs: what's not to love about avocado oil?
My first experience with avocado oil was as a carrier for a topical aromatherapy mixture I concocted. I knew that it was rich in nutrients, including an abundance of vitamin E and the mineral potassium, but until I discovered it at a local Costco, I had never used it in the kitchen. Although my adopted home, Mexico, practically reveres the avocado, I simply had never seen the cold-pressed, food-grade oil for sale here commercially.
Touted as one of the world's healthiest oils, avocado oil is often called one of nature's "superfoods." A bit of research reveals that as a plant oil, it is not only cholesterol-free, but also high in monounsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids, both of which have been proven to lower harmful blood cholesterol levels. As an additional boost to heart health, it also has high levels of alpha and beta carotene. And with twice the lutein of olive oil, it also protects against macular degeneration and blindness. Are you beginning to see why this is truly an oil to love?
Topically, it is no slouch either. It is classified as a humectant, which means it moisturizes the hair. As an emollient, it is rich in vitamin E, a known boon to the skin, helping to reduce age spots and wrinkles. Its antioxidant properties additionally enhance its reputation as a healing and regenerative skin oil.
And in the kitchen, it has multiple uses. Wonderful in dressings and marinades, it's unique flavor also marks it a possible condiment, standing on its own with no other adornment as a dipping oil or as a drizzle. It is wonderful with fruits, excellent on salads, and perfect with any recipe using avocados. Avocado oil can also be taken therapeutically, a tablespoon per day.
Although the smoking point of any oil will vary slightly according to the variety of the plant and the growing conditions in which it finds itself, avocado oil has one of the highest smoking points of any cooking oil. Generally, avocado oil has a smoking point of 520°F, safflower oil 510°F, soybean, corn, peanut and sunflower oils 450°F, and refined sesame oil 450°F. Olive oil is listed at about 380°F. This makes avocado oil a perfect choice for sautéing, frying, and roasting at high temperatures.
In a cooking class I taught on Friday focusing on Market Fresh Organics, we threw together leaf lettuce, mizuna, yellow tomatoes, avocados, red onion, and a sprinkling of herbs (all from a local organic farm!): parsley, mint, and purple basil. We dressed it with this vinaigrette from a recipe I found at
Avocado Oil-Orange Vinaigrette
(Recipe from Grove Avocado Oil Company)
1/4 cup avocado oil
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Shake all ingredients in a jar. Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
Note: I used agave nectar, but honey would be just as good. I might add a bit of finely grated orange zest the next time I make this.