It goes without saying that the last few decades have seen an increase in more holistic approaches to health and beauty supplements. This interest is driven by those who are looking to reduce and remove man-made and chemical products from their daily exposure- influencing many major brands to begin exploring alternative ways to manufacture their popular products.
The use of natural supplements derived from specific plants, fruits, and vegetables for overall health and cleanliness is not a new subject; but the new attention it has been given have many wondering what, exactly, is best for their own personal needs. Avocado oil benefits have been around for thousands of years for both internal and external uses, and this article explores some of the best ways you can begin to introduce it into your health regimen.
What is Avocado Oil?
The avocado fruit is marked by a near 12,000-year-old history in its native climate of Central and South America. Cultivated as a food source, evidence of seed carvings and use have also been found, suggesting a rich and varied relationship with this thick-skinned fruit which is technically a very large berry of the Avocado Tree.
Introduced to Europe during colonization of the Americans, where it was called the Alligator pear due to its bumpy surface, the plant thrives in tropical climates and has long been a food source for those who are able to grow it.
Avocados may be much in demand for the flavor they lend to various dishes (guacamole anyone?), but they also have a wide variety of other uses mainly due to their healthy nutritional content that is just as beneficial to external uses as well as internal.
Avocado oil extraction began in the early 20th Century, most likely as an idea to keep blemished and overripe commercially grown avocados from going to waste. It wasn’t long before oil use was found to be useful as a substitute for everything from vegetable oils to beauty product ingredients.
How Avocado Oil is Used
Avocados have been used for centuries both internally and externally. They are flavorful, can be used in a variety of ways to lend flavor and texture to various dishes, and also provide external benefits. There are many beauty recipes that include the avocado fruit itself as a base- such as for skin masks. But to understand its use, you need to understand why it has grown in popularity.
Despite the knowledge of its amazing benefits was not fully known when the oil first became popular, it is sought after today in all forms due to its healthy nutrients. Obviously, the ingestion of the oil will allow for quicker uptake of these vitamins and minerals, but external uses of it also allow for body absorption.
Vitamins C, K, E, and B-6 are all supportive of the cardiovascular system and support healthy immune responses. Vitamin E in particular as an antioxidant supports both internal and external healing and is strongly anti-inflammatory. K is especially important for bone structure and calcium absorption.
Beta-sitosterol helps support how the body absorbs and uses cholesterol during digestion.
Lutein aids healthy vision and is an antioxidant to minimize damage from ultraviolet light.
Beta-Carotene is another nutrient known for healthy eyesight and vision support.
Fatty Acids, especially healthy forms of fat and Omega-3s have long been associated with heart health as well as skin, nail, and hair health.
Carotenoids have the potential for anti-carcinogenic effects, making them a healthy addition to your diet.
Riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium are also widely available to support immune systems, gastrointestinal disease, and various inflammation.
Avocado Oil Extraction
Oil extraction can be done in multiple ways, some of which better preserve the natural nutrients and flavors of the fruit better than others. Without going into detailed scientifically explained steps, oil is extracted through expeller pressing, cold pressing, or chemical extraction. In all processes, the fruit is first peeled and de-stoned as the oil is found mainly in the soft fruit itself.
In short, this process describes using chemicals to extract oil from the dried pulp. It is further subjected to chemicals to refine and bleach the oil for both color and smell. Chemical extraction doesn’t strip the oil of all its nutrients, but it does remove some of them. These oils are popularly used in cooking processes or as alternative foundations in the beauty industry.
The heated and dried pulp is then soaked in hot water to extract oils- of which are skimmed from the top of the water as it rises. This process loses some nutrients and vitamins through the heating process, and also yields lower amounts of oil. But compared to chemical extraction provides a much better quality overall. Slight variations to this traditional method (such as pressing, called expeller, and spinning the pulp) also prove favorable to quality content and cost/benefit ratio.
Cold-pressed extractions were invented in the 1990’s and have proven to be the best in relation to cost and oil quality results. This process is temperature controlled to avoid losing vital nutrients from the fruit. It yields the purest oil and retains flavor and color, and is done through the mashing, pulping, and centrifugal (spinning) separation of the oil from the fruit.
Types of Avocado Oil
It is important to mention that not all avocado oil is the same, and how it is extracted should be understood to know what benefits you are receiving through various uses. When purchasing avocado oil for any use, you are probably going to see different labels to indicate different choices.
Unrefined, refined, virgin, and raw are all names you are going to see- but understanding what they mean helps explain the process of the extraction and the quality you are purchasing. Use this quick guide to help determine which is best for you.
Unrefined vs Refined
Refined oil is chemically processed oil to remove impurities, color, and taste. It is popularly used in beauty products and for cooking. It does not have as many benefits as those oils that have not undergone these processes but still has nutritional and beauty health value.
Unrefined oils have the taste and smell of the plant they have been extracted from. They may undergo a mechanical process to remove impurities but are not chemically stripped of any natural properties. These also are popular for cooking, or as carrier oils in the beauty industry.
Virgin vs. Extra Virgin
Virgin oils are those that are unrefined and unprocessed by heat or chemicals. Extra virgin oils are those oils extracted by the ‘first press’ while virgin oils in consequent oil extractions. These are the result of cold-pressing, and you may also see the label ‘raw’ to help define them. These are both popular for cooking and in the beauty industry to reap the full potential of their benefits.
Avocado Oil Benefit Reference Guide
All those nutrients and vitamins mentioned do add up to why you should consider the use of avocado oil in your life. The following list highlights the many ways you can incorporate it into your lifestyle and how easy it is to do so!
Initially, the avocado was most popularly used as a food source. It still is a favorite for many dishes and of course, your eating of the raw fruit itself does provide the benefits you would receive from quality oil. But if the texture or taste is not always to your liking, or if getting fresh fruit is a challenge, substituting the oil in your favorite recipes for both baking and cooking is an excellent alternative.
Adding Avocado Oil to Your Diet
It is incredibly easy to add the oil to your diet without making any changes to how or what you eat. It has a light, fresh, buttery taste and adds flavor to anything you use it in. Consider a few of these tips to start incorporating it into your daily meals:
- Add a tablespoon to a smoothie
- Drizzle it over a salad or make your own salad dressing with it
- Use it in your baking when ingredients call for vegetable oil
- Add it to your meat marinade
- Use it on roasted or grilled vegetables
- Mix into hummus
- Use it to add flavor to cold soups by adding some to the top
- Make it your main air fryer spray
- Make homemade mayonnaise with it
- Use as a substitute for butter
- Drizzle over popcorn
- Substitute as a cooking oil
The high levels of beta-sitosterol make this a heart-healthy option. It helps regulate cholesterol levels and may also reduce blood pressure.
Phytochemicals, lutein and zeaxanthin, concentrate in the tissues around the eyes and provide antioxidant protection. The fatty acids also may help reduce the risk of age-related vision impairments.
Avocado oil helps support the body’s uptake of carotenoid antioxidants and other valuable nutrients that support bone structure.
Folate is also incredibly supportive of infant growth in the womb and also helps reduce the risk of miscarriage and neural tube defects.
Another reason to partake in folate-rich foods is how it prevents the buildup of homocysteine, which can impair blood circulation and nutrient pathways to the brain. This interferes with your body’s ability to sleep, regulate your moods, and how your body perceives food. When this happens you may struggle with heightened anxiety and depression.
The high fiber found in avocados helps maintain a healthy digestive tract, prevents constipation, and lowers the risk of colon cancers. This also helps with natural body detoxification.
Reduces Arthritic Discomfort
The extracts, unsaponifiables, found in avocado oil have been used in studies to help reduce the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.
Oral Health Support
Anything you put in your mouth can influence your oral health. The anti-inflammatory properties of the oil can help with discomfort, while the unsaponifiables help block the protein 1L1B – the main driver of the inflammation of tissue destruction found in gum disease.
Hair and Skin
Not only can you create your own DIY beauty products using avocado and avocado oil, but you also can find a wide selection of beauty products on store shelves that incorporate it as an ingredient. You also can add oil to your favorite products.
Adding Avocado Oil to Your Beauty Regimen
It isn’t hard to start regularly using the oil for skin, hair, and beauty purposes. Simply investing in a bottle of oil opens up many possibilities to use it. Consider some of the following for healthier hair and skin:
- DIY hand and body scrubs
- Make your own oil infused bath salts
- Use as a moisturizing hair mask
- Use as an oil face wash
- Add to favorite existing scrubs, face masks, shampoos, and conditioners
- Make your own face mask
- Add to cuticle oil or make your own
- Use as a splint end, leave on hair treatment
- Use as a makeup remover
- Leave on, night eye cream
The oil is highly moisturizing and also transfers the many vitamins and nutrients through your epidermis. It can be added to your moisturizers or smoothed over skin for a temporary or long-term treatment option. Moisturized skin is more supple as it smooths and reduces wrinkles- making it ideal for sensitive skins around eyes and mouth.
Relieves Skin Inflammation
Natural anti-inflammatory properties can help heal skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. The moisturizing effects also soothe dry, flaky skin. Because it does not leave an oily residue it is non-comedogenic and will not clog pores.
The fatty acids and oleic acid in studies have been found to promote collagen synthesis to help create new connective tissues. This speeds the process of healing all while soothing the wounded area.
Cools and Protects from Sunburn
The moisturizing effects and nutrients are all conducive to soothing sunburn inflammation and healing the skin. Studies also suggest that consumption and use of the oil can also help protect from UV rays.
Supports Nail Health
The moisture of the oil helps heal cracked skin around the nails and keep them supple for healthier growth.
Massage into your scalp to help moisturize the skin and loosen dandruff. Regular use can help reduce dandruff conditions.
Supports Healthy Hair
The healthy skin conditions of using the oil on your scalp strengthen hair follicles. Plus, the nutrients and moisturizing effects promote plumper, softer, and healthier hair.
Concerns About Avocado Oil Use
Unless you have specific food allergies, and avocado is not a fruit that often sees allergic reactions associated with it, avocado is considered a safe option to both eat and use topically. In some very rare cases, mild itching has been related to its use on sensitive skin- but most likely this has been a result of using it with other agents that may create a skin tightening sensation when left on for a long period of time. Regardless, after its removal, the feeling went away.
It does have a very high fat content, and even though it is a healthy fat overall, the fat content is related to a high caloric count- which when eaten in high quantities can lead to weight gain. But overall, it is an excellent choice to add to diet and beauty regimens.
No matter whether you love avocados or not, avocado oil is a product everyone can use both internally and externally for just about a healthier everything. Safe and effective, this all-natural ingredient is full of powerful nutrients that can support your body as well as beauty. If you have been searching for a way to promote wellness, including this oil in your regular routines is a simple choice to make.
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