Avocados have become the star of many dishes. They are no longer just considered the go-to ingredient for guacamole, but are found in everything from salads to wraps and even as the base in smoothies. And why not, when they are loaded with vitamins and minerals, low in sugar and also contain fiber? Even though they are high in fat, it is actually the good kind that supports heart health. This humble, yet super, fruit comes in many types, but most commonly we find Hass avocados in our produce section. In fact, Hass makes up 95 percent of all the avocados eaten in America. While avocados have many great things about them, being able to use it as an oil is definitely an added bonus. We get avocado oil from the fresh-pressed pulp of an avocado.

Health Benefits of Avocado Oil

Healthy Fats: Even though avocados are high in fat, it is actually the kind of fat that you want. Avocados contain monounsaturated fat, which helps to lower bad cholesterol and helps to develop and maintain your cells. Avocado oil consists of 71 percent monounsaturated fatty acids. Like olive oil, avocado oil fats support skin health and the absorption of vitamins and minerals that can aid in immune system health.

Supports Eye Health: Lutein is a carotenoid found in avocado oil. Lutein has been linked to a lowered risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in people over 60. In addition to the phytochemical lutein, you can also reap the benefits of another phytochemical, zeaxanthin. Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants that have been linked to reductions in chronic diseases. Additionally, they help to minimize the damage caused by ultraviolet light to the eyes.

Weight Control: A recent study has found that avocado oil can improve glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and may lead to lower body weight. Though the study was performed on animals, the results provide some evidence that these benefits may transfer to humans.

Popular Uses of Avocado Oil

Skin Protection: The lubricating properties of avocado oil can contribute to helping your skin stay hydrated, smooth and elastic. It is less likely to contribute to clogged pores as can happen with creams and other oils. But these benefits won’t necessarily translate to those who have oily skin. Try it mixed with other nourishing oils like olive, shea and coconut for ultimate hydration.

Avocado oil has been found by Brazilian researchers to help wounds heal faster. In a study published in the journal, "Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine_,"_ it was noted that oleic acids and essential fatty acids contained in avocado oil can help to treat skin injuries and also that avocado oil may speed up wound healing.

Additionally, the antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin in avocado oil are associated with lowering UV-induced inflammation of the skin because of sun exposure and can also soothe sunburned skin. While protecting the skin against sun damage, avocado oil can also help to avoid the aging process that UV exposure leads to.

Hair Conditioner: Avocado oil can be the ultimate hair smoother and help to manage frizz. While its benefits as a hair product has not received a lot of research, there are those who swear by using it. Mixing avocado oil with coconut oil and a mashed banana can work well as a deep conditioner.

Cooking With Avocado Oil: Although avocado oil has a higher flash point than other oils, like canola, safflower and olive oil, it is still prone to breaking down, so it's best to keep it stored in a cool dry place away from direct heat and sunlight. The flashpoint, also known as the smoking point, is that temperature at which the oil starts to smoke or cause fumes. The flashpoint of avocado oil is 500 F, making it perfect for high-temperature cooking. Comparatively, olive oil has a flash point of under 400 F, while the flash points for canola and safflower are 400 F and 225 F, respectively. Use avocado oil for roasting, barbecuing, frying and sauteing. Plus, it has a neutral taste that makes it great for marinades, vinaigrettes, dips and sauces.

Understanding Virgin and Refined Oils

We often see on labels for specialty oils, like olive oil and avocado oil, the words virgin and r_efined_. In general, virgin oils tend to have the lowest smoke point and refined oil has higher smoke points. When a label reads virgin, it should mean that the oil had not been exposed to air, light or heat prior to use. So, only refined avocado oil can reach 500 F and virgin avocado oil ranges from 350 F to 375 F.

Ways to Add Avocado Oil to Your Diet Naturally

There are many ways to use avocado oil in place of the oils you usually use. These are just a few suggestions:

  • Swap out canola oil when making homemade mayonnaise and use avocado oil instead.

  • Spread it on bread instead of butter or margarine.

  • Drizzle it on top of your caprese salad, guacamole or hummus before serving.

  • In homemade salad dressings that call for olive oil, try using avocado oil instead. 

How to Make Homemade Avocado Oil

Stovetop Prep:

  1. Wash and peel six avocados. Using a sharp knife cut them in half all the way around the pit. Discard the pit, and with a spoon scoop out the flesh of the fruit and deposit it into a blender or food processor.  

  2. Cover the blender or food processor. Select the puree setting and puree the fruit until a smooth paste is achieved. You can also mash by hand or with a potato masher if you do not have a blender or food processor. Transfer the blended avocado to a medium size saucepan.

  3. Cook the pureed avocados over medium heat stirring every three to five minutes to ensure that it doesn't stick or burn. It will start to boil and rise. Keep cooking until the color changes from light green to a dark green or brown. 

  4. When the water has evaporated, remove the pot from the stove. Transfer the avocado mixture to a large glass bowl.  Cover the bowl with cheesecloth. Then use cotton cooking twine or a rubber band to secure the cloth in place. While holding either side of the bowl flip it over.  Once upside down carefully remove the twine or rubber band and pull together the top of the cloth to form what looks like a sack.

  5. Squeeze the mixture over a medium size bowl to catch the strained oil. Keep straining until no more oil can be expressed. 

  6. Pour oil into a flip-top bottle or airtight container and store for later use.

Oven Preparation:

You can also prepare the avocado mash in the oven instead of on top of the stove.

  1. Follow the directions for stovetop prep, but instead of putting the blended avocado in a pot on the stove, spread the blended avocado evenly on a cookie sheet.

  2. Bake at 155 F until the avocado is brown and dehydrated, about four to five hours. Check on it frequently to ensure that it isn’t burning. 

  3. Once it is done, wait until it is cool enough to work with, but not cold. Scrape the avocado layer from the baking sheet with a spatula. 

  4. Place the avocado into a thin cotton cloth over a measuring cup or glass container. Squeeze until all of the oil has been expressed. Store oil in an airtight bottle. 

About the Author

Cheryl S. Grant

Cheryl S. Grant has reported & written for Crain’s, Glamour, Reader's Digest, Cosmo, Brides, Latina, Yoga Journal, MSN, USA Today, Family Circle, Taste of Home, Spa Weekly, You Beauty, Spice Island, and Health Daily. She investigates trends and targets profiles subjects using a combination of deep background research (database, periodicals, preliminary interviews, social media), write and edit compelling stories in a variety of beats including beauty, health, travel, nutrition, diet, law, medicine, advocacy, and entertainment.