Avocados Aren’t Just For Guacamole Anymore. The Next Time You Reach for a Healthy Fat, Think Avocado Oil.
When you think of avocados, you typically think of guacamole. Or, if you are me, you think of Kriste at the office who (in her own words) is “totally obsessed” with avocados and will eat them sliced, diced or on the “half-shell” when given the chance.
Once shunned because of their high fat content, avocados have been elevated to fitness food chic over the past few years, thanks to a growing body of research showing that eating more healthy fats from things like avocados, nuts and olive oil doesn’t necessarily translate into more body fat. In fact, studies have shown exactly the opposite: People who eat healthy fats seem to actually be less fat, have lower bad cholesterol levels and triglycerides and are less prone to heart disease and developing certain kinds of cancers.
And that’s great news for avocado lovers, since not only are avocados filled with healthy fats, but they are also loaded with fiber and vitamins and minerals. And, of course, they taste fantastic on everything from healthy tacos to sandwiches to straight out of the shell, like my friend Kriste prefers.
But what most people don’t realize is that avocados can also be pressed to make a delicious, mild vegetable oil that’s among nature’s richest sources of healthy, monounsaturated fatty acids (also known as MUFAs). Even better, if you’re getting bored with the usual olive oil on your salads and crave something a little different, you might consider swapping in some avocado oil.
What Is Avocado Oil and Avocado Oil Extraction?
Avocado oil is pressed or extracted from either the fresh flesh or dried pulp of avocados.
The best culinary grade avocado oil is produced by cold-pressing the oil from the fresh flesh of avocados, in a manner similar to how cold pressed olive oil is produced. Avocado oil can also be extracted from the dehydrated pulp of avocados, either through pressing or chemical/solvent extraction (which is typically employed for avocado oil used as a base in cosmetics.)
The vegetable oil in culinary avocado oil typically comes in one of two forms: refined or unrefined.
Refined avocado oils will have a lighter color and a more mild flavor with a very high smoke point that makes it ideal not only for salads, but especially for light frying or sautéing.
The unrefined versions of avocado oil will be more cloudy, have a deeper green color and a deeper, more intense avocado flavor. Because unrefined avocado oils have more solids in them, they also have lower smoking points than refined avocado oils. This makes them ideal for salad dressings where a more intense flavor is desired or around other uses that don’t involve heating the oil — for instance as a dip for bread or as a finishing oil vegetables.
Avocado oil has a mild, subtle scent that some people have described as similar to artichokes and celery, with the rich, persistent flavor — not surprisingly — of avocados. Again, the less refined the oil is, the more intense and deep the avocado flavor will be.
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