When it comes to healthy cooking oils, avocado oil is often lauded as a healthier alternative to other options like olive oil.
Refined avocado oil is made by extracting the oil from the flesh of an avocado and then refining it to remove any impurities.
Refined avocado oil still retains a small part of the benefits contained in unrefined avocado oil.
It happens because refining avocado oil reduces the levels of many beneficial ingredients such as phytosterols and chlorophyll.
Phytosterols are useful for lowering cholesterol, while chlorophyll is associated with several benefits, such as helping skin conditions and fighting certain types of cancer.
Should Avocado Oil Be Refined or Unrefined?
The smoke point is the temperature at which an oil compound breaks down, burns, and produces smoke.
It causes your meal to burn, destroying the nutrients and phytochemicals in both the oil and the food.
In addition, it can release free radicals that might be harmful to health.
Unrefined avocado oils are high in minerals, enzymes, compounds, and the fruit’s natural flavor.
This natural oil has many health benefits and is highly nutritional, but is very prone to go rancid quickly and has lower smoke points.
Unrefined oils are ideal for cooking at low temperatures because of their high compound composition.
On the other hand, refined avocado oils have a higher smoke point due to the physical methods used to eliminate impurities.
The refinement process involves heating at high temperatures, bleaching, and deodorizing, commonly referred to as the RBD method.
The goal is to remove all compounds that do not react well to heat, and they are removed to produce neutral-flavored, industrial-grade cooking oils with higher smoke points.
What Is the Difference Between Refined and Unrefined Avocado Oil?
Avocado oil can be refined in two ways: chemically and naturally.
The chemical method of refining avocado oil uses the RBD method, which uses a refined, bleached, and deodorizing technique to produce various vegetable oils.
The purpose of refining avocado oil is to remove the avocado oil’s natural color, smell, and flavors.
It simply means refining is a process to remove impurities that can cause decreases in the free fatty acids content.
In this process, rotten or damaged avocados can still be used, and the resulting oil will still have a normal taste and smell.
However, compared to unprocessed avocado oil, the amount of healthful compounds that survive is lower.
Another method that is not widely used by many brands but produces a higher quality of refined avocado oil is naturally refined.
This method employs a cold-pressed or expeller-pressed, chemical-free mechanical process that uses very little heat.
Cold-pressed extraction of avocado oil is a mechanical method similar to olive oil extraction, with an additional step to remove the seeds and skin.
The fruit flesh is ground into a paste, and run through a malaxing process for 40-60 minutes at a temperature of 45-50°C.
This process is chemical-free and is carried out under strict temperature control.
Refined avocado oil has a smoke point between 482°F-520°F (250°C-270°C). The oil is translucent yellow with a more subtle taste.
Unrefined avocado oil is produced like olive oil, and it can also be manufactured as extra virgin oil or virgin oil.
Extra virgin is derived from the first cold pressing of high-quality ripe fruit pulp, and this type is considered the highest standard in terms of nutrition and flavor.
Meanwhile, virgin avocado oil is produced from fruit with lower quality, such as those with minor spoilage or physical changes.
Food-grade extra virgin or virgin oils should be stored in tinted or UV-protected bottles or tins to retain quality.
Unrefined, cold-pressed avocado oil does not involve chemicals and other heat processes from beginning to filtering.
As a result, all the nutrients, the original taste, color, and smell of the oil are retained.
Unrefined avocado oil has a slightly lower smoke point at 480°F (249°C).
What Type of Avocado Oil Is Healthiest?
The oil is olive green to golden in color and has a strong buttery, creamy, nutty flavor.
Vitamin E is the most powerful antioxidant in the form of tocopherol, which is why it’s used in skincare products.
Extra virgin avocado oil is also regarded as a good source of healthy fats for long-term health.
However, when compared to other cooking oils, refined avocado oil has the highest smoke point, making it one of the best oils for high-heat cooking methods such as grilling, frying, broiling, roasting, and baking.
The smoke point of unrefined extra virgin avocado oil is 350-400°F (177-204°C), while that of refined oil is 482°F to 520°F (250°C to 270°C).
Unrefined virgin oil is ideal for sauteing over medium heat or used raw in homemade salad dressings, dips, and mayonnaise.
Meanwhile, due to its high amount of fatty acids, unrefined virgin avocado oil has a low smoke point and is best consumed raw or at a low temperature for maximum health benefits.
At higher temperatures, the nutrients found in avocado oils might lose effectiveness.
When purchasing avocado oil, keep the following in mind:
- Check the production date to ensure product freshness. Don’t check the expiry date because it proves to be unreliable.
- If possible, check on the manufacturing of the oil, and choose an oil with gentler refining methods.
- Before using it for cooking or consuming, smell the oil to check rancidity. If the oil starts to smell like play dough, don’t use it.
- Store properly, and keep the oil in a cool dark place. Try to keep it inside a cabinet away from light and heat.
- Purchase in a reasonable size. Even if the expiry date is still far away, don’t keep the oil for too long. It allows you to finish the oil before it starts to oxidize.
- Generally, the taste of virgin avocado oil is grassy, slightly mushroom-like, and buttery. However, different varieties and regions can produce different flavors of virgin avocado oil.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.