One of the biggest challenges with health and nutrition is figuring out what you’re supposed to eat. That’s especially true for situations like avocado oil vs olive oil.
Both of these options are traditionally viewed as being good for you and they tend to be healthier than vegetable oils.
But, how to do the two types compare to one another? After all, if you want health benefits, making good choices is critical.
Avocado Oil vs Olive Oil: The Similarities
First of all, avocado oil and olive oil do have a number of similarities.
For one thing, they are both fairly natural options for oil.
Olive oil is basically the juice from the olives and is created by pressing them. It comes in multiple different forms, with the most sought after being extra virgin olive oil (sometimes called EVOO).
The difference in types comes from the way that the oil is produced. So, extra virgin olive oil is created from the first pressing of olives and involves no chemical processes for extraction.
Extra virgin olive oil is typically viewed as much healthier and means that you are likely to get more compounds from the olives themselves. Most of the research on olive oil has also focused on the extra virgin type.
However, as you might expect, this version of olive oil is more expensive.
Avocado oil is also made from pressing. However, unlike olive oil, there is just one kind of avocado oil – so you won’t find different grades. Still, the color and other qualities can vary somewhat depending on what variety of avocado was used to make the oil.
Avocado oil isn’t as common as olive oil. However, it is becoming more popular and is getting easier to buy as a consequence.
In both cases, you have an oil that is made naturally, without hydrogenation or chemical processes. They are also both good sources of healthy fats.
Now, in modern society, there has been this trend of avoiding fat whenever possible. Much of that pattern is tied into the controversy that surrounds cholesterol.
There has been growing recognition that a relying on healthy fats can offer a range of health benefits. Indeed, people who decrease carb and increase fat intake often find themselves with a range of positive outcomes, including improvements in risk factors for heart disease (1,2,3).
The site Precision Nutrition offers detailed information about the different types of fats and health impacts. Fats like olive oil and avocado oil can even improve cholesterol levels (4,5,6), which is the opposite of what most people assume.
The fat in the olive and avocado oil is significant for nutrient absorption as well. In particular, some compounds that we get from our diets, including specific plant-based nutrients, tend to be absorbed better in the presence of fat. For example, one study indicated that adding avocado oil to a salad served to increase carotenoid absorption (10).
These patterns suggest that avocado oil and olive oil are a much healthier option and can even help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Now, it is worth noting that both types of oils have a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (15,16). This ratio is undesirable because if you have too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 in your body, it can have negative impacts on health.
The most significant of those is the potential to promote inflammation. This issue is one of the key reasons that you should include fish in your diet regularly.
However, olive oil and avocado oil don’t contain much omega-6 or omega-3 fatty acids. As a result, they are unlikely to promote inflammation.
Indeed, olive oil may offer a key way to reduce inflammation and a similar effect could easily be present for avocado oil. After all, the two oils do have much in common.
Avocado Oil vs Olive Oil: The Differences
The comparison of avocado oil vs olive oil does suggest that both are healthy and good additions to the diet. But, there are differences as well.
Some of those differences are related to stability, especially in terms of cooking.
One key area is the smoke point. This refers to the temperature where the oil begins to visibly smoke. Typically, an oil starts to break down at that point.
This can result in a loss of nutrients and harms the overall flavor.
To make matters worse, an oil can create dangerous compounds at its smoke point. As a result, any oil can be unhealthy at the smoke point and it’s important to avoid this.
The smoke points of oils vary dramatically. Many cheap and processed options (like corn oil) tend to have high smoke points. But, they are concerning for health in other ways.
There are other healthy oils that you should never use for high-temperature cooking (like pumpkin seed oil), simply because their smoke point is too low.
Now, there is considerable debate surrounding olive oil and cooking.
Olive oil does have a relatively low smoke point, which can be as low as 220 Fahrenheit for extra virgin olive oil (17). However, this varies dramatically between brands and types of olive oil. Another estimate suggests that the smoke point is around 383 Fahrenheit, which is considerably different (18).
Research suggests that olive oil is surprisingly resistant to heat and it can be safe to cook with it, even the extra virgin kind (19). Indeed, olive oil can even be used for deep frying (20), although the flavor is still likely to decrease if you do so.
Still, the smoke point of avocado oil does tend to be higher, on average, than for olive oil.
This can make it a better option for cooking overall and you can be confident that you’re not losing nutrients in the process.
Another area of difference is specific nutrients.
Now, for the most part, avocado oil and olive oil are fairly similar to one another.
At the same time, plant-based nutrients tend to vary from one plant to the next. As a result, there will be a range of other differences in nutrients.
One final difference of note is the taste.
Of the two, avocado oil tends to have a stronger and more distinctive flavor. This can be very appealing in some situations and not so much in others.
For example, the taste of avocado oil may mean that it simply doesn’t work well as an ingredient in some recipes and could overpower other ingredients. In contrast, avocado oil could be better in cases where you need a stronger flavor.
Likewise, people are likely to vary in which taste profile they prefer.
Which Should You Choose?
The discussion of avocado oil vs olive oil is an interesting one. Certainly, both types of oils do have their advantages and some people will favor one over the other.
Indeed, an argument can be made for avocado oil, because it tends to contain more monounsaturated fatty acids, along with the presence of lutein and other nutrients (27,28,29). Likewise, avocado oil does have a higher smoke point, which should mean that it is a better option for cooking.
However, the difference in the fat composition of the two types of oil is relatively minor and olive oil can still be used for cooking, even at a high temperature.
So, in many ways, there simply isn’t a single answer to the avocado oil vs olive oil question.
After all, both types of oil are food for you and they do have their place within a healthy diet.
Likewise, each oil has its own specific profile of fatty acids and nutrients.
This means that you’ll probably get the most benefits by including both in your diet.
For that matter, this is a good general rule. Despite all the marketing about ‘superfoods’, the best way to get health benefits from food is to focus on a variety of options, especially fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to avocado and olive oil, the one approach may be to rely on avocado oil for high-temperature cooking (because of the smoke point) and olive oil for other uses, like salads and dipping. Doing so is one way to get the best of both worlds.
Still, both oils can safely be used for cooking and offer an appealing profile of healthy fats. So, if you need to choose just one, the answer may simply come down to personal preference.
After all, olive oil and avocado oil do have different tastes, with avocado oil tending to be somewhat ‘nutty’. This may mean that you need to try them out and figure out for yourself which oil works best for you.
There is one final note that I want to make about olive oil.
Many people have only tried regular olive oil, rather than extra virgin olive oil. The taste difference between the types can be dramatic, as can the potential health benefits. As such, it’s worth taking the time and trying extra virgin olive oil before making any decision.
There are many different brands out there it’s important to choose carefully, as counterfeit olive oil is far too common (as Food Renegade discusses).
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