What’s the Difference Between the Different Kinds of Avocado Oil?
It’s pretty much a given at this point that avocado oil is one of the best oils that you can use, period. It has a zillion health benefits, both internal and external, can be used for things around the house, and is generally useful as heck! But there are different types and categories of avocado oil. How do you know which to use? Read on for a good explanation.
What Are the Categories?
Oils are usually marketed with one or more labels, including: unrefined, refined, raw, virgin and cold pressed. It goes without saying, this is not just for avocado oil, but for all oils.
Getting the Oil Out
There are basically two types of pressing, expeller and cold pressed. With expeller pressing, the press squeezes the oil straight out of an avocado without any additional heat or chemicals. This can cause heat, though, due to friction. Cold pressed is the same thing, but in a temperature controlled setting, where the temp can’t go above 120F. Usually, it is much lower than that. Cold pressed means that the oil pressed out retains nearly all its subtle flavors, colors and nutritional value, as heat reduces or changes some of these properties in oil. There is a third type of extraction, which includes the processes that use heat and chemicals to get the oils out. Cold pressed is the best for retaining everything, expeller second best, and chemical extraction is completely undesirable.
Virgin vs. Extra Virgin Oils
The difference between a virgin and an extra virgin labeled oil is pretty simple: extra virgin oils were extracted in just the first press, and virgin oils by just pressing, with no heat or chemicals added. The label raw or pure is tacked on oftentimes when an oil is cold pressed.
Unrefined vs. Refined Oils
A refined oil is one that has been bleached or deodorized after its extraction. Oils treated this way lose a great deal of their smell and color. Refined oils also sometimes add a bit of scent and color back in.
Unrefined means simply that it has not been touched (other than perhaps to be mechanically filtered to remove impurities) since the extraction process. Unrefined oils taste like the plant they have been extracted from.
Avocado Oil: Unrefined vs. Refined
Just because an oil has been refined, that doesn’t make it necessarily bad, but it certainly doesn’t make it any better. For example, some people (we’ve never met them, but we have to assume!) simply don’t like the taste of avocado. This means that unrefined avocado oil won’t be the best choice for them for salads, cooking, or any type of ingestion. On the other hand, refined avocado oil might be just what they need as it will have a much more subtle taste, and still retain a small part of the benefits of unrefined avocado oil. Of course, some of the great benefits of it, such as the high levels of phytosterols and chlorophyll, will be greatly reduced in the refined oil.
The refining process also uses chemicals, which then need to be stripped out of the oil, and that also removes some of the healthy components. The refining process can strip out the nutrients at the same time as it removes the color, flavor and smell. A little-known fact is that due to the refinement process, avocados that are rotten, bruised or damaged can be used, and the oil will still smell and taste okay after processing. This isn’t exactly the best proposition, and would never be done when producing a high-quality avocado oil.
A second category exists, which is naturally refined. This is a relatively new process, but means that the oils were refined mechanically rather than chemically. Avocado oil is one of the few oils that can take this process due to its high smoke point. This process creates a stable, high heat cooking oil, which is not quite as good as unrefined, but many times better than regular refined oil. It won’t have as many benefits for the skin as unrefined would, however.
Unrefined avocado oil will be cold-pressed and not touched otherwise, other than perhaps being filtered. It retains all the nutrients, taste, smell and color that make it super for you. The order of healthy preference here would be unrefined, naturally refined, and then refined.
So, in terms of getting a healthy oil that works both inside and out, your best bet is Avocado Oil from Ava Jane’s Kitchen…it’s cold pressed extra virgin avocado oil! This is the version that will have the most benefit to your health, and life. And hey, it tastes great too! So, happy cooking and stock up on that fabulous oil!