The fatty acids in avocado oil are nearly identical to those in olive oil, with both providing about the same amount of heart-healthy oleic acid. Avocado oil is also packed with several types of fats that help lower cholesterol, fight inflammation and may even work as antioxidants. No matter what benefits you’ll gain from avocado oil, you still have to watch out for its high calorie count.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends filling most of your daily fat intake with monounsaturated fats, such as oleic acid. Monounsaturated fats lower bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. About 76 percent of avocado oil consists of monounsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturated fats, including essential omega-3 fatty acids, account for 12 percent of avocado oil’s total fat content, reports the American Oil Chemists’ Society. These fats also help lower cholesterol and protect your cardiovascular system by fighting inflammation.
Avocado oil doesn’t have any cholesterol, but it is rich in phytosterols, which are the plant’s version of cholesterol. Phytosterols add to the oil’s cholesterol-lowering effect by preventing dietary cholesterol from being absorbed.
Boost Nutrient Absorption
Avocado oil helps your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It also improves absorption of carotenoids, which are the source of vitamin A found in vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables.
If you use avocado oil in a salad dressing or add it to tomato sauces or salsas, you can absorb about three to 15 times more of the carotenoids in the vegetables than if you didn't add oil, notes a 2005 report in the Journal of Nutrition.
The oils in fresh avocado may improve the conversion of carotenoids into vitamin A, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition in August 2014.
Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Action
Research is still in the early stages, but studies show that avocado oil exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. For example, avocado oil decreased kidney damage in lab rats, reported the FASEB Journal in April 2013. The results were attributed to the oil's large amount of oleic acid and antioxidant action.
Similar antioxidant potential was supported by a study published in June 2013 in the Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes that found that avocado oil protected cells in rat kidneys from the damaging effect of free radicals.
A mixture of avocado and soybean oils, called avocado-soybean unsaponifiables, helps fight inflammation. In Europe, the oils are used to help treat knee and hip osteoarthritis, notes MayoClinic.org.
Watch Out for Calories
One tablespoon of avocado oil has 124 calories. If you forget to include them in your daily tally, the oil contains enough calories to cause you to pack on a few extra pounds over time.
About 20 percent to 35 percent of your total daily calories should come from fats, recommends the Institute of Medicine. Using a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet as an example, that means getting about 400 to 700 calories from fats.
Since all of the calories in avocado oil consist of fats, 1 tablespoon provides about 17 percent to 31 percent of total daily fats.
- Cleveland Clinic: Meal Preparation
- AOCS: What Is Unrefined, Extra Virgin Cold-Pressed Avocado Oil?
- Linus Pauling Institute: Phytosterols
- Journal of Nutrition: Carotenoid Absorption From Salad and Salsa by Humans Is Enhanced by the Addition of Avocado or Avocado Oil
- Journal of Nutrition: Avocado Consumption Enhances Human Postprandial Provitamin A Absorption and Conversion From a Novel High-Beta-Carotene Tomato Sauce and From Carrots
- The FASEB Journal: Dietary Avocado Oil Prevents the Impairment in the Complex III and ROS Production in Kidney Mitochondria From Diabetic Rats by Improving the Electron Flow Through Cytochrome C1
- Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes: Dietary Avocado Oil Supplementation Attenuates the Alterations Induced by Type I Diabetes and Oxidative Stress in Electron Transfer at the Complex II-Complex III Segment of the Electron Transport Chain in Rat Kidney Mitochondria
- MayoClinic.org: Osteoarthritis
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Oil, Avocado
- Photo Credit AnjelaGr/iStock/Getty Images
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