Years ago, fat-free diets were all the craze. Nowadays, however, we have evolved our food thinking to include healthy fats as part of a well-balanced diet. Avocados and avocado oil are growing in popularity, but is it true that they are more healthy than the original fat superfood, coconut oil? Here's what the experts say about both oils, and which you should stock in your kitchen.
The Case For Avocado Oil
Avocado oil, pressed from the avocado fruit, is an ingredient with a high percentage of healthy monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats decrease cholesterol levels and can promote heart health. Avocado oil is also high in Vitamin E and carotenoids, which both serve as antioxidants. Plus, with its high smoking point and very mild taste, it is great for almost any type of cooking, including high-temperature cooking and baking.
Unfortunately, avocado oil's Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid content is comparable to olive oil. These fatty acids can cause inflammation which leads to heart and other health problems. It is also, on average, more expensive than coconut oil or your traditional olive oil.
The Case For Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is the original fat superfood that many people have stored in their kitchens. Virgin coconut oil is full of antioxidants as well as lauric acid, a type of fat that has antibacterial properties. Coconut oil has a sweet flavor to it which can be a benefit to some recipes. It is also commonly applied in the beauty industry in at-home face and hair masks. Though unrefined coconut oil does not have the best scent, it can help smooth hair and soften skin.
Though coconut oil has many uses, it is higher in saturated fat than butter (about 90%, compared to 63% in butter). Some argue that this type of natural saturated fat is healthier, but these claims are only loosely backed by scientific studies. Very little research has been shown to prove coconut oil's actual benefits for the body.
Overall, avocado oil
is probably the best thing to have around your kitchen. It is flavorless, can be heated at high temperatures, and is proven to provide health benefits that coconut oil does not. However, for skincare and for certain cooking and baking recipes, coconut oil can be a great option.
Health professionals also remind us to use oil sparingly, no matter which one we purchase. Natural plant oils can be beneficial in moderation but whole food fat sources will always be the preferable choice. Instead of loading up on avocado oil in your food, use it in small amounts.
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