Spark It or Scrap It: Can Avocado Oil Improve Your Health?

By , Melissa Rudy, Health & Fitness Journalist
The avocado has a long, rich history: There is evidence that the avocado tree was grown approximately 10,000 years ago in Coaxcatlan, Puebla (Mexico). Since 500 B.C., the fruit had been an essential food source in Mexico, Central America and South America. During the 16th century, it was highly popular among the Spanish conquistadors. In the early 1900s, farmers in Florida, California and Hawaii began growing the avocado as a commercial crop, but it would be another half century before the fruit gained widespread appeal.
According to Pinterest, avocado oil will take coconut oil's place as one of the top 10 trending foods for 2016. From salad dressings to skin care, it’s everywhere: There are thousands of “avocado” hashtags on Instagram. Its popularity has grown consistently year-over-year; as of 2014, Americans purchased around 4.25 billion avocados. That’s a lot of guacamole. But do the benefits warrant the buzz?
Miracle Elixiror Just a Myth?
It’s the liquid inside the avocado that’s making health headlines. Extracted from the creamy pulp of the fruit, the oil was originally used as a skin moisturizer and rejuvenator before gaining culinary demand.
According to the American Oil Chemists’ Society, avocado oil is chock full of health-boosting vitamins, minerals, nutrients and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering levels of bad cholesterol. It’s also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E, which most of us are lacking, and carotenoids, which have been shown to reduce the occurrence of certain types of cancer and other diseases. The oil is particularly high in the carotenoid lutein, which helps to preserve eye health.

Additional studies of avocado benefits have found that consumption of the fruit--
including its oils--has been shown to support weight loss, ensure healthy aging, reduce inflammation and promote adequate fiber intake. Its high MUFA content also works to prevent diabetes and blast dangerous belly fat.
15 Ways to Cook with Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is often used as a healthier substitute for extra virgin olive oil. It has a mild, grassy flavor with a trace of the original fruit’s essence. Avocado oil can be used as a recipe enhancement or as a cooking oil. Its high smoke point makes it a good choice for stir-frying, searing or sautéing foods at temperatures up to 449°F.
If you’re convinced that avocado oil lives up to the hype, there are many ways you can introduce it into your diet. Below are just a few ideas:
  1. Use it as a marinade on top of salmon, tilapia or other light meats before baking.
  2. Substitute avocado oil when you would normally use canola oil or olive oil.
  3. Combine it with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle in some red pepper flakes or dried Italian herbs for a tasty and healthy bread dip.
  4. Drizzle the oil on top of a homemade flatbread pizza.
  5. Add a little avocado to your favorite smoothie or shake.
  6. Mix it with your favorite salad dressing.
  7. Substitute it for butter when baking.
  8. Drizzle it over popcorn.
  9. Use it to make healthy homemade mayonnaise.
  10. Enhance the flavor of guacamole by topping it with a little avocado oil.
  11. Swirl a little of the oil into a bowl of soup.
  12. Craving the taste of fried food? Coat your chicken in avocado oil before rolling it in breadcrumbs and baking it for a healthier alternative.
  13. Spread it over toast instead of butter or jam.
  14. Drizzle it over vegetables before roasting or grilling.
  15. Use it as a topper for your favorite fruits (or a fruit salad).
If you choose to add avocado oil to your diet, we’d love to hear about your experience. What’s your favorite way to use avocado oil when cooking? Have you noticed any benefits?
Join us each month as we sift through the so-called life hacks and miracle cures to get to the bottom of the latest buzzworthy trend. Get the facts and decide for yourself if you should Spark It or Scrap It.