Why You Should Start Replacing Canola Oil With Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is considered a healthier alternative to canola oil. Canola oil is highly processed making it less nutrient dense. Avocado oil is not chemically processed and offers higher amounts of healthy fats compared to canola oil. Although avocado oil can be more expensive and somewhat difficult to find, it does have the health edge over canola oil.

Key takeaways:
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    Canola oil, produced from the rapeseed plant, is highly processed, requiring heat and chemicals to extract.
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    Avocado oil is unrefined so it retains more nutrients.
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    Canola oil and avocado oil have similar fatty acid profiles with subtle differences that can make a big difference.
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    These oils differ in how they’re extracted, their shelf lives, smoke points, and cost.
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    For an unrefined, nutritious, and delicious canola oil replacement, give avocado oil a try.

Avocado oil and canola oil can be easy, 1:1 replacements for each other; however, the two oils are not created equal. These oils differ in many ways, primarily their extraction, smoke point, lipid content, and association with inflammation.

Canola oil is highly refined, affordable, has a long shelf life, and may contribute to some inflammatory health conditions. Avocado oil, on the other hand, is commonly unrefined, has a shorter shelf life but a higher smoke point, and may be beneficial in preventing certain chronic health conditions. The potential health benefits of avocado oil make it a great replacement for canola oil.

Canola and avocado oil – the extraction:

Canola oilAvocado oil
Base source:Rapeseed plantAvocado fruit
Extraction method:Crushed seeds are dissolved in hexane solvent and heated, or sometimes by cold press methodsCentrifugal separation (high-speed spinning) method
Processed with heat:YesNo
Processed with chemicals:YesNo

Canola oil is highly processed and includes both heat and chemicals in the extraction process. Canola oil is derived from the rapeseed plant and includes heating the crushed seeds dissolved in hexane solvent, or sometimes by cold press methods. From there, it is refined, filtered, and deodorized.

The Journal of the American Oil Chemist’s Society published articles examining the refining process of canola oil and found that it “largely removes vitamin E, carotenoids and chlorophylls during bleaching and deodorization processes. The refining process [also] renders canola oil a hydrogenated oil of trans fatty acids and their consumption may lead to heart problems, blood platelet abnormalities, increased cancer risk, and free radical damage.”

On the other hand, avocado oil is often extracted using centrifugal separation (high-speed spinning) and does not require heat or chemicals, making this oil unrefined for the most part. Some avocado oil manufacturers do opt to use heat and/or chemicals in the extraction process making it a refined oil, however, this is not as common as the standard refining process we see with canola oil.

Because avocado oil is not exposed to high heat and chemicals like canola oil, it can maintain more of its potential health benefits. It also means avocado oil doesn’t contain trans fats like canola oil often does. Even in small quantities, trans fats can create free radicals, which can damage the cardiovascular system.

Canola vs avocado oil – storage & price:

Canola oilAvocado oil
Shelf life once opened:1 year6–8 months
Price per ounce:$0.10$0.40

Refined oils, like canola oil, do have a longer shelf life. Canola oil can last up to a year in the pantry after being opened and often costs less, at about $0.10 per ounce.

Alternatively, avocado oil is not refined (in most cases) which means it is less shelf stable and only lasts 6–8 months in the refrigerator after opening. Avocado oil also costs more, coming in at around $0.40 cents per ounce, give or take.

Avocado and canola oil in cooking

The smoke point of oil means the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke and oxidize when heated. When this happens, the oil loses its nutritional value and gives food an unpleasant taste.

The smoke point of refined canola oil is about 400°F (200°C). The smoke point of unrefined avocado oil is 480°F (250°C), making it a better choice for high-temperature cooking like frying and roasting.

In addition to avocado oil being great for high-temperature cooking, it can also be used raw in a marinade or salad dressing. Canola oil is not used raw in most cases.

If you do want to try avocado oil as a replacement for canola oil, a 1:1 ratio is recommended. Whatever a recipe calls for in canola oil, you can use the same amount of avocado oil as a replacement.

Avocado vs canola oil – which's better?

Both canola oil and avocado oil have surprisingly similar nutritional profiles when it comes to things like calories and fatty acids, but because of their differences in the extraction processes, their micronutrient profiles are different.

Similar nutritional profile

Nutrition of 1 ounce of both avocado and canola oil:

  • 221 calories each;
  • 0 protein and carbs;
  • About 25 grams of fat;
  • Both contain comparable levels of Vitamin E and Vitamin K.

So why one's better than the other?

About 70% of avocado oil is comprised of heart-healthy oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid (one of the highest monounsaturated levels in a dietary oil). Around 13% of avocado oil is polyunsaturated fat and about 12% is saturated fat. Research suggests that a diet rich in unsaturated fat is beneficial as it may reduce the risk of chronic health conditions like dementia and heart disease.

About 63% of canola oil is comprised of monounsaturated fat, 28% polyunsaturated fat, about 7% saturated fat, and <1% trans fat. Given its fat profile alone, canola oil has a favorable composition of fatty acids, however, because it is so highly refined, and refining markedly decreases nutrients (like essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins), researchers still have mixed findings on whether or not canola oil helps or hinders heart health.

Antioxidants in avocado and canola oil

Avocado oil is a relatively good source of antioxidants, specific carotenoids, tocopherols, and various plant sterols. It is a good source of lutein, a carotenoid and antioxidant that’s naturally found in your eyes. Because your body doesn’t naturally produce lutein, adding avocado oil to your diet could be an easy way to support eye health. Research shows that a diet rich in antioxidants can fight oxidative stress, which causes inflammation, and support eye, heart, and brain health (just to name a few).

On the other hand, several animal studies associate canola oil with increased oxidative stress or the process that causes inflammation in the body. High levels of inflammation can contribute to some chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Canola oil is an oil extracted from the rapeseed plant. It has a great fatty acid profile, however, because it’s so highly refined, research is mixed on whether it supports or hinders health. If you use canola oil regularly and are looking for a healthy replacement, avocado oil could be the right choice for you. It is unrefined (in most cases), rich in quality fatty acids, and high in antioxidants known to support health.

Avocado oil is delicious, nutritious, easy to use and makes a great canola oil replacement. If you want to switch things up, give avocado oil a try!

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