Like most of us, you probably love the flavor of a rich, buttery avocado, that beautiful green fruit native to South Central Mexico. We adore them sliced in sandwiches, cubed in salads and mashed and spiced to make guacamole. We put them in our smoothies and our omelets, pit them and stuff them with shrimp or egg salad, and mash them to use as an emollient facial mask to make our skin healthy and glowing.
Like a wide variety of fresh fruits, avocados are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but unlike most fruits which are high in natural sugars, avocadoes are not. Instead, they are valued for their oil which is roughly 70% monounsaturated, like the kind you find in extra virgin olive oil. Monounsaturated fats have a number of health benefits like improving risk factors for heart disease, lowering LDL (low-density lipoprotein) while maintaining healthy HDL (high density lipoprotein), improving blood vessel function, stabilizing blood sugar, supporting healthy insulin levels, and much more.
Avocado oil has numerous health benefits as well as great flavor and, unlike olive oil, it has a high smoke point making it a popular choice for health-conscious consumers. Its high smoke point means it won’t breakdown and burn as quickly as many other oils. The smoke point is determined by the length of a fatty acid chain (the number of carbon atoms that are linked together forming a chain) and the balance of fatty acids that make up the fat or oil. When it comes to heating and cooking, saturated and monounsaturated fats are the most stable and while we agree that avocado oil is indispensable for a number of reasons, it’s important to note that it is about 14% polyunsaturated consisting of about 13% omega-6 and just 1% omega-3. This is not a favorable ratio; consuming too much omega-6 in relation to omega-3 can promote inflammation and imbalance, creating a need for larger quantities of omega-3s.
According to the National Institutes of Health, humans evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-3 to omega 6 of approximately 1:1, yet the modern American diet contains excessive amounts of omega-6s while being deficient in omega-3s. This imbalance is linked to a number of health problems including heart disease, autoimmune disease, cancer, and other inflammatory diseases. When omega-3s are increased, inflammation is suppressed.
Because the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 is about 13:1 in avocado oil, if used solely, too often, or in large quantity, like other oils with a similar profile, it can create a fatty acid imbalance and an inflammatory response in the body. That’s why it makes good sense to enjoy it along with a variety of other fats and oils including wild fish, pasture-raised eggs and meats, virgin coconut oil, grass-fed ghee, macadamia nut oil, sacha inchi oil (which has a balanced omega 3:6 ratio), organic palm oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
For best results, choose good quality, cold-pressed or extra virgin avocado oil in a darkened glass bottle. It is buttery and delicious, plus it’s rich in carotenoids and other antioxidants as well as chlorophyll and vitamin E. It’s wonderful as is or mixed with ghee or coconut oil for cooking, baking, sautéing and pan-frying. And, it’s wonderful to use raw, drizzled over steamed or roasted vegetables, toast or popcorn, or added to salad dressings, dips and spreads, hummus, mayonnaise, and more. Just remember to use it along with a variety of healthful fats and oils.