Should you use it in your cooking—and, if so, how? Plus, are there any health benefits?

Brierley Horton, M.S., R.D.
May 06, 2020
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Avocado oil is more popular and more commonly used today than it was even a few years ago. You can find avocado oil at Costco and most large grocery stores. But what's in avocado oil, how does it compare to pantry-favorite olive oil, and does it deliver any health benefits worth touting? Read on, because we'll tell you.

What Is Avocado Oil?

Avocado oil comes from the actual fruit that we eat. It's mostly extracted from the green pulp, and less so from the seed. There isn't a set definition for avocado oil, or guidelines on how it must be made to be called "avocado oil." That said, there seem to be two main versions of avocado oil: refined and virgin. The former is the most neutral and can get very hot (i.e., it has a high smoke point at about 500°F). The latter is more akin to extra-virgin olive oil in that it has a lower smoke point (like olive oil, in the low- to mid-300s) and more robust (avocado-y) flavor. (Learn more about the best oils for cooking in our healthy guide.)

Is Avocado Oil Good for You?

Avocado oil is considered a "monounsaturated fat." Fats that are rich in monounsaturated fat, in general, are healthier than saturated fats. The research shows, though, that monounsaturated fats don't win when pitted against the other unsaturated guys—polyunsaturated fats—at least when you're talking about heart health. Turns out, in studies where people cut back on saturated fat and replaced it with either mostly polyunsaturated fat or mostly monounsaturated fat, those who leaned more heavily on polyunsaturated fats were more successful at lowering "bad" LDL cholesterol, as well as reducing risk of developing heart disease. Still, choosing monounsaturated fats is a healthy choice, and this one offers a few unique nutrients.

Getty Images / melecis

How Does Avocado Oil Compare to Olive Oil?

Here's what you get in a 1-tablespoon serving of avocado oil:

  • Calories: 124
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 14g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 10g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 2g
  • Carbohydrate: 0g
  • Sodium: 0mg

Here's what's in a 1-tablespoon serving of olive oil:

  • Calories: 119
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 14g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 10g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1g
  • Carbohydrate: 0g
  • Sodium: <1mg

As you can see, it's really not all that different when you look at the nutrients we mostly pay attention to. That said, avocado oil does contain some omega-3 fats in the form of linolenic acid, and olive oil doesn't. It also delivers some beta carotene, as well as vitamins A, C, D and (like olive oil) vitamin E.

Research also suggests that avocado oil has some promising health benefits—though much of the research has only been done in animals, making it too early to say that it could deliver all of these benefits to real live humans.

Health Benefits of Avocado Oil

Heart helper

A few studies have found that animals fed avocado oil can improve their cholesterol and blood pressure. What's even more promising, though, are the findings of a small study of humans: after just 6 days of substituting avocado oil for their usual butter, overweight adults improved their total cholesterol and "bad" LDL levels, in addition to some other valuable health measures.

Good for your skin

Science says that avocado oil moisturizes dry or chapped skin. It's also been shown—in animals, at least—to promote wound healing, quell inflammation during wound healing, and even boost synthesis of collagen (the protein that helps keep skin looking young and wrinkle-free).

Potential memory and development booster

At least for babies in the womb. In a study of pregnant rats, those who were fed avocado oil or pulp (aka the green flesh you eat) birthed babies who developed faster after birth and then, in adolescence and adulthood, had better memory than their counterparts whose mothers didn't eat avocado oil or avocado. It's too soon to say if these effects will happen in humans too, but it won't hurt. (Get our list of best foods for a healthy mind.)

Bottom Line

Don't forget that fat shouldn't make up more than 35% of your daily calories—ideally. So use avocado oil (and other oils) judiciously. Avocado oil is a great all-purpose oil with a fairly neutral flavor profile, which makes it delicious in everything from roasted vegetables to salad dressing. It can—and should—be a go-to oil in your pantry.