When I started looking at brands of avocado oil, I thought that it would be a breeze. What could be difficult about finding the best avocado oil?
Then, I read the labels and got thoroughly confused! If you’ve had a similar experience, I hope this article will give some clarity.
A quick overview of what’s to come
Things to Look for When Buying Avocado Oil
What to look for depends on whether we want avocado oil as a food and nutrition choice or as a cosmetic choice for skin and hair.
Avocados are rich in minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. So, the best edible oil needs to retain as many of these health benefits as possible. For high-temperature cooking, the best oil will have the highest smoke point.
Avocado oil easily penetrates the skin and the hair shaft. Therefore, you will be looking for pure oil, with no chemicals. Vitamin E content is important.
So far, this seems quite straightforward. However, I soon realized I should know the difference between raw, natural and organic avocado oil. And what about organic, pure organic, raw organic, natural organic, certified organic? Does food grade vs. therapeutic grade mean anything? Which is better - refined or unrefined? What are extra virgin, virgin, pure and blends? Can you use the same oil for your hair and skin and also use it to fry your potato chips or in your mayo recipe?
Here’s what I found out.
What Determines the Quality of Avocado Oil?
The three most important factors are source, extraction method and refining method.
Other factors such as "food-grade" or "therapeutic grade" are often just an attempt to make a product sound better than it is.
Source of Avocado Oil
Organic vs. certified organic
Organic means that the farmer has not used synthetic fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides. Unfortunately, the word organic is unregulated, so people use it loosely. You need a "certified organic" label to be sure of the standards. Anything genetically modified (GMO) is not organic.
Organic vs. natural
Natural food is any food from plants or animals that have not been altered by chemicals or processing. It may or may not be organic. However, because there are no standards, manufacturers tend to use the term indiscriminately.
The best avocado oil is extracted from the best avocados.
Extraction Methods for Avocado Oil
The way the oil is extracted determines the final quality and potential uses of the avocado oil.
Mechanical and chemical extraction
Avocado fruits are dried and pressed at high temperatures, and solvents (usually hexane) remove the oil. Another way is to break down the cells mechanically – sometimes called expeller-pressed. This method gives better-quality oil than the chemical method, but it can be costly. This avocado oil is good for cooking and skin and hair, but must be refined.
Cold pressed extraction
Cold pressing uses temperature of less than 50°C (122°F), and only water and enzymes. Refining isn’t necessary. Cold pressed avocado oil is very good for you. It retains the green color, the smell, and buttery or mushroom-like taste of the avocado, together with its phytonutrients and some of the vitamins.
Cold-pressed oil is best for vegans who want raw oil (oil that has not been heated above 115°F).
Refining Methods for Avocado Oil
Unrefined avocado oil can be cloudy, but it retains the health benefits of the avocado. The source must be organic, to avoid having pesticides in the oil. Shelf life is short, so it’s best to buy in small sizes. Use it for salad dressings or low-heat cooking. You can also use it for skin and hair for deep moisturizing treatments. Some people find the avocado smell and taste overpowering.
Refined avocado oils are clearer, more stable, have a longer shelf life and a higher smoke point so can be used for high heat cooking. They are odorless and light yellow.
The refining method affects quality:
- Naturally refined oils are very well strained and filtered but without chemicals. They lose some color, smell, taste and nutrient value.
- More aggressive refining can include extreme heat, chemicals, bleaches and even preservatives. These oils are fast and cheap to manufacture and have a good shelf life. However, they may have little nutritional or cosmetic value. Nonetheless, they may be an option if you are on a tight budget.
How Can We Rate Avocado Oils?
Some people have proposed using the terms extra virgin, virgin, pure and blends to indicate different grades of cold pressed avocado oil. Some of their characteristics are in the table
Method of extraction
Cold or expeller press
Must match claims on the label
Quality of fruit used
Sound, but may not be perfect
Odor and taste
Avocado flavor and smell above 40 on 100-point scale
Avocado flavor and smell above 20 on 100-point scale
Depends on the blend
Green with yellow tone
Depends on the blend
Characteristics of avocado oils available on the market.
If we integrate all the information, then it’s clear that the healthiest and best avocado oils are those that are:
- Certified organic.
- Extra virgin.
- Cold pressed.
- Either unrefined or naturally refined.
At last, we can now look for the best brands to buy.
The Best Avocado Oil for Cooking, Skin or Hair
I've selected two products that are for food use, one that is for cosmetic use and two that are multi-use.
So … Which Avocado Oil Was My Favorite?
The Avohass Avocado Oil is hard to beat. It met all four of our criteria for best oil:
- Certified organic
- Extra virgin
- Cold pressed
Second on my list is the Organic AVOCADO OIL Skin Moisturizer by Renewalize. It met 3 of our best-oil criteria, just missing out on the extra virgin one. I particularly liked their customer satisfaction money-back guarantee.
The third is Avocado Oil Spray, 5 Fl. Oz. by La Tourangelle. It met most of the quality criteria (missing on organic), and it also is such an interesting brand. It claimed to be multi-purpose and showed why it could be used for cooking as well as for skin and hair.
Well, after all my research, I will certainly know what to look for when I am shopping for avocado oil. I hope you feel the same.
If you are interested in tea tree oil or argan oil, you may like to read the articles below.
What did you think? Please let me know by adding your comments. Also, please tell me what criteria you might have used for selecting the best oil.
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