Avocado - the soft, fleshy, green fruit seems to be all the craze nowadays. From avocado in recipes to avocado in cosmetics, this buttery ingredient has been gaining more and more popularity, as many people have been recognizing its health benefits.
Avocado is a very nutrient-dense fruit and it’s especially known for being a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. Its rising popularity has led to increased demands for avocado around the world, as well as avocado products, such as avocado oil.
The oil is edible, and it’s valued for its nutritive profile as well as its moisturizing and regenerative properties.
However, with so much demand, and so many manufacturers and suppliers, the competition is tight, and currently, there are no standards to help determine if what you’re getting is what it says on the tin.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Because the avocado oil market is so abundant, low-quality oils or oils that are blended with other edible oils can be sold at lower prices under the claim that they are pure.
This creates an imbalance in the market and puts the manufacturers of authentic products at a disadvantage, while also creating a potentially hazardous environment for bulk buyers, food service professionals, and consumers.
When there are no standards, there is no measurable way to make sure that the avocado oil you’ve purchased is safe.
Generally, edible oils are measured by standards of quality and purity. Quality depends on the fruit used for the oil, the extraction process, and storage, while purity refers to authenticity, and it means that the oil should be 100% extra virgin and not have any additives or other oils present.
Taking note of this, two scientists from the University of California in Davis have conducted a study on the quality and purity of avocado oils available on the US market, with the goal to raise awareness, protect the consumers, and provide useful data for the development of quality standards for the avocado oil market in the future.
For the purposes of the study, they picked 22 samples of avocado oil (both refined and unrefined) from most major brands. The goal was to test them for purity and quality, and to find and report any inconsistencies.
The findings were pretty interesting and revelatory.
- Namely, most of the samples were of poor quality,
- Five of the seven oils labeled as “extra virgin” had high levels of free fatty acids (prone to turning rancid),
- Six of the nine “refined” oils had high levels of peroxide value (tendency towards oxidation).
More data also showed that they had already undergone oxidation and lipolysis (the breakdown of fats) before their expiration date.
In their report, the scientists conclude that these findings point towards the probability that these oils were unethically made, using damaged, overripe, or insect-infested fruits, improper storage, or harsh processing methods.
In addition, it was also found that three samples labeled “extra virgin” or “pure” were adulterated with soybean oil.
The researchers state that this is unsafe for the consumers and unfair to the market, and that “authentic extra virgin avocado oils are clearly being outcompeted by this economically motivated adulteration.”
WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR
When buying avocado oil, pay attention to these things:
The color should be deeply emerald; washed-out green means it’s not the real deal
The flavor can differ, but pure virgin oil tastes grassy and buttery, like a fresh, ripe avocado
It should feel light because it absorbs really fast and it shouldn’t leave a greasy feeling; if you feel anything tacky, toss it out
Store it away from light and heat, like in a dark cabinet away from the kitchen
Finally, always make sure you buy from manufacturers and vendors that adhere to standards of quality and purity, so as to stay extra safe and to make sure you’re using the best product you can find
This study demonstrated that the lack of quality control in currently one of the biggest and most popular markets in the US needs attention. The results urge taking action in order to protect not only the manufacturers of authentic avocado oil but also all types of consumers, without affecting the stability of the market.
According to the report, there need to be fair standards established that will take into account things like harvest time and processing conditions for all manufacturers, so they all have a level playing field.