Avocado oil is no newcomer to the food industry. In fact, it is well-known for its multiple health benefits, which is why food experts deemed it a superfood and why its recent popularity has been soaring. Many restaurants prize avocado oil for cooking, and it is now a staple ingredient in many salads, entrees, and main course recipes.
Trending Avocado Oil
What makes avocado oil especially stand out? The secret is that it has maintained its superfood status in an era where there are countless cooking oils to choose from. Chefs are no longer limited to traditional vegetable, olive, and canola oils and both caterers and cooks alike enjoy cooking oil alternatives such as coconut, grapeseed, peanut, sunflower, safflower, sesame, and soybean, amongst others.
So why is it that 2019 food industry headlines still feature titles such as: “11 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Avocado Oil” and why do superfood experts claim that “avocado oil is superior and the best kind to use”?
To get a taste for what the hype is all about, let’s sink our teeth into the following Avocado Oil Guide for Foodservice Professionals, where you will get the full scoop on the pros and cons of cooking with avocado oil, including a savory recipe you can add to your catering and restaurant menus.
How Avocado Oil is Produced
First, did you know that avocados are actually berries, making them a fruit rather than a vegetable? In addition, the avocado fruit is an excellent source of nutrients on its own, with half of an avocado containing 2 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber-filled carbohydrates, 15 grams of healthy fats, and about 17% or more of the recommended daily allowances for vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamins B5 and B6, potassium, and folate.
As for its oil, avocado oil is one of the rare plant-based oils extracted from the flesh of the fruit rather from the nut, seed, or kernel. In addition, while most fruits contain little to no fat, avocado is teeming with beneficial fats. It also has more potassium than a banana and more protein than any other fruit.
For production, the oil is extracted from the flesh of the fruit and then distilled to remove the pulp. The extraction and processing procedure vary significantly depending on the intended use for the oil, as avocado oil’s claim to fame lies not only in its cooking advantages but also in its recommended use as a high-quality skincare agent.
Avocado Oil History
Since Aztec times, the high oil content of the avocado fruit has been recognized, referred to alternatively as ‘butter pear’ and ‘vegetable butter.’ Originally extracted for cosmetic use due to its deep skin penetration and easy absorption, the plant itself hails from Central America, however it is now cultivated in other warm subtropical and temperate climates.
Today, avocados are primarily grown domestically or exported for the fresh fruit market from New Zealand, where two cultivators (known as ‘Hass’ and ‘Fuerte’) pioneered the process of producing extra virgin avocado oil in 2000. Thanks to the New Zealand fruit’s thick skin, the crop is subject to few postharvest and handling disorders and the extracted cold-pressed avocado oil, which is sold for culinary use in cooking and on salads, is unrefined so that it retains the flavor and color characteristics of the original fruit flesh.
For skincare use, avocado oil is extracted using solvents at high temperatures, resulting in a bleached, deodorized product unfit for consumption. To extract edible avocado oil, the skin and seed are separated from the flesh using a high-speed decanting centrifuge, producing a paste which is then ‘malaxed’ at 45-50 degrees Celsius for 50-60 minutes. The process does not harm the purity of the product, and in fact, the chlorophylls from the flesh and skin are what contribute to the characteristic emerald green color of avocado oil.
Nutritional Benefits of Avocado Oil
While it resembles olive oil nutritionally, the following are some of the unique properties and documented benefits of avocado fruit and its oil, and the reasons why they continue to be championed by food industry and health experts.
- The fat that gives avocado oil its stellar reputation is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat. Multiple scientific studies show oleic acid is heart-healthy and that avocado oil is a cholesterol-lowering food that reduces the risk of coronary disease by lowering risk factors such as LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and blood clotting factors. It is also recommended for people with type 2 diabetes as it lowers triglycerides and blood sugar levels. At the same time, the oil is thought to improve insulin sensitivity and the balance of HDL (‘good’) cholesterol. It may also reduce the risk of certain cancer inflammations.
- Avocado oil is considered ideal for cooking since not only is it nutrient-packed, but it is said to help in the absorption of nutrients from other foods. Due to its mild flavor, it can be used in practically any recipe. In fact, avocado oil is known as a ‘flavor enhancer’ of whatever you serve with it!
- Avocado oil’s primary selling point, however, is its super-high smoking point, which is higher than that of all of its counterparts, including olive oil, and which means that its nutrients are preserved even at high temperatures. Specifically, refined avocado oil is stable in high-heat cooking of up to 500°F, as opposed to the smoking point of extra virgin olive oil which maximizes at about 375-390°F.
- Carotenoids are beneficial compounds found especially in brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Absorbed in the human body, they act as free-radical fighting antioxidants, help protect against chronic diseases, and are said to reduce the risk of certain blinding eye diseases. While dependant upon dietary fats for absorption, most foods with high carotenoid levels are naturally low in fat. However, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2005 showed that even the modest addition of avocado oil increased carotenoid absorption by as much as 15 times. Hence adding small amounts of avocado oil to your recipes and dishes can improve the body’s ability to absorb lutein, alpha-carotene, and beta carotene.
- Did you know that avocado oil may also be good for your teeth and gums? Oral health studies have found strong evidence that the consumption of avocados has a reverse correlation with the presence of pro-inflammatory cytokines found in periodontal gum disease. This means that by consuming avocado oil, you and your customers may be less likely to contract gum disease. In addition, studies suggest that avocado oil aids in the maintenance of enamel health by blocking proteins that degrade tooth and bone minerals.
Downside of Avocado Cooking Oil
And now, a word to the wise from avocado aficionados: Of course, if you or your customers are allergic to avocados, be sure to stay clear of avocado oil. But – get a bite of this unusual trivia fact – there is a potential downside to cooking with and consuming avocado oil if you have a latex allergy. Apparently, certain fruits such as avocados, kiwis, chestnuts, and bananas contain some of the same allergens found in latex.
How to Add Avocado Oil to Your Recipes
Feel free to use the versatile avocado oil to replace almost any other oils that are called for in recipes. Some of the common uses of avocado oil include use as a vegetable oil or butter substitute, as a base for stir-fries, as a cooking infuse with garlic or other herbs, as a spice in vinaigrettes and salad dressings, and for baking.
If this savory info on avocado oil ls has whetted your appetite or stirred your chef’s culinary juices, here is one sweet and hot avocado oil recipe that you can offer your customers.
Avocado Mango Salsa Recipe
- 1 peeled, pitted, and diced avocado
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 peeled, seeded, and diced mango
- 1 chopped hot pepper (or red bell pepper for a less spicy version)
- 1 chopped red onion
- 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro
- 1 tsp. avocado oil
- Salt to taste
- In a large bowl, mix avocado with lime juice.
- Add all remaining ingredients and mix well.