Avocado oil


Persea americana Mill. = P. gratissima Gaert., Lauraceae

INCI: Persea gratissima oil

Purpose: easily absorbed, care for all skin types

Price: cheap to medium expensive

The secret of healing: essential linoleic acid, sterols, lecithin

My remark: always an intriguing colour, a very special feeling on the skin

Oral use: yes, but not very usual.

I admit that I am sometimes unfair to avocados and that I use it too infrequently. Avocado is no longer an exotic food like some time ago, but I personally don’t really like it in my diet except in some interesting vegetable sauces. Since the pulp of the fruit has long been used for food and medicine, someone once came up with the idea to squeeze the oil out of the dried pulp of the fruit and see what is so special about it.

Avocado oil is obtained today by a not very simple process. Oil is obtained in several ways:

  • In 1934, Eaton examined the yield by drying the fruit, and later squeezing it out of the dry pulp under high pressure (Eaton & Ball, 1934 American Vefumer, June 1934, 192).
  • In 1938, Dean perfected the method by heating the pulp of the fruit with water vapor, and extruding on grids under high pressure (Dean, HK, 1938 Utilizing of Fats, A Harvey, London/2141).
  • In 1942, Love proposed a combination of pulp pressing after treatment with calcium hydroxide solution, and oil would be further extracted from the cake by extraction with an organic solvent (Love, HT, 1942 Puerto Rico Experimental Station, US Dept of Agric, 18-19.)
  • In 1958, Turatti described several methods of production, including pressing after lyophilization of the fruit and extraction (Turatti, JM, Santos, LC, dos Tanqojs & Arima, KK, 1958 Characterisation of Avocado oil extracted by various methods. Ins de Technologia de Alimentos, Compinas, São Paulo, Brazil. Oletim do Institute de Technologia de alimentos Brazil, 22(2), 267-284.)
  • In 1987, Human investigated the method of obtaining pulp by drying in hot avocado oil, and then oil was obtained from the mass by pressing. Unfortunately, this method involves heating in oil and this oil is not cold pressed (Human, T.P. 1987 Oil as a byproduct of the avocado. South African Avocado Growers ’Association Yearbook. 10:159-162)
  • Centrifugation is a process in which extraction with organic solvents and heating is avoided, the pulp is ground and under the influence of centrifugal force at 12300g and with five times the mass of water, the oil is separated. The process is delicate and the water must be buffered to 5.5, with the addition of 5% sodium chloride or calcium carbonate or calcium sulphate (Bizimana, V; Breene, W.M. & Csallany, A .S. 1993. Avocado Oil Extraction with appropriate technology for developing countries. Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society, 70 (7), 821-822; Werman, M.J & Neeman, I. 1987. Avocado Oil Production and chemical characteristics. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 64 (2), 229-232)
  • Cold pressing is the newest and best technology that was developed in New Zealand. The pulp is ground into a very fine paste in mills at a large number of revolutions, in a three-phase decanter the cake, water and oil are separated. This oil is of top quality, and the pressing itself is fully defined as cold pressed (Eyres, L.; Sherpa, N; Hendriks, G. 2006. Avocado Oil- A new edible Oil from Australasia. Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, New Zealand ; Wong, M; Requejo, C; McGhie, T; Wang,Y; Eyres, L; Woolf, A. 2005. Recent Research on the Health Components in Cold Pressed Avocado Oil. Avocado talk ppt). The International avocado oil council suggests this method of obtaining devices produced by the Italian company Amunduni.

There are several commercial varieties of avocados. The most common is Haas and it is the standard in cultivation, but there are other common cultivars: Gwen, Pinkerton, Fuerte, Zutano and Reed. The stage of fruit maturity, the cultivar, but also the composition of the soil, even insolation, affect the composition of the oil. That is why you can find a whole range of oils with very different characteristics on the market. The intensity of the colour is mainly dictated by the amount of chlorophyll (11-19mg/kg), and the whole bouquet of volatile compounds dictates its smell (β-caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, α-humulene, α-kopaen, decenal, heptenal…). The sterol content varies from 8-20g/kg for oils of ripe fruits, and 11-62g/kg for oils produced from unripe fruits. The sterol composition is dominated by β-sitosterol and campesterol. Such a high sterol content gives a popular feeling of skin smoothness after applying avocado oil.

avokado drvoThe oil is very often cloudy with a visible precipitate, sometimes deep green-brown or green in colour, sometimes yellow-green, and sometimes pale green-yellow. This drives everyone who works with avocado oil crazy because different suppliers and different lots of oil have different characteristics and cosmetic products are very changeable in appearance and smell. Many are repelled by the smell of avocado oil, although it cab quite easily masked with aldehyde oils and hydrolates and citrus, as well as lavender and lavender. If you ask me, my favourite is the avocado oil from the New Zealand (Haas cultivar), which has a very unobtrusive scent, bright colour and a very pleasant feeling on the skin. But all of that depends on the supplier.

It is one of the oils that penetrates very easily through the skin, but due to phytosterols (and probably lecithin) it leaves a really special feeling of softness that embarrasses even such legends as argan oil. Like almond oil, it is good for all skin types. We believe that avocado phytosterols, and partly vitamins, are responsible for the beneficial effect on the skin. The fatty acid composition makes it nourishing but not spectacular for skin biology. It is dominated by oleic acid, the same as in olive oil, but the oil can also contain relatively interesting palmitoleic acid. It does not contain it to the same extent as macadamia, but enough to help mature skin that is deficient in palmitoleic acid.

The greenish colour of the oil always gives intriguing shades to final products. I suggest you try it one evening neat on the face, free of other essential oils and vegetable oils. Most people are pleasantly surprised. Avocado also causes a pleasant feeling of moisturizing the skin. Along with castor, macadamia and argan oil, it is ideal in hair treatments. As avocado oil is not too expensive, I love it in soaps, with babassu or coconut. Avocado soaps are especially pleasing to the skin.

Face and body oils, emulsion systems, even shower gels and shampoos, hold a place for avocado oil. The relatively moderate price makes it even more popular.

Quality requirement*
Basic characteristics 
Organoleptic characteristicsMostly cloudy oil pale green to intense green in color, often with visible white precipitate. A characteristic avocado scent that may be less or more pronounced.
Content of unsaponifiable matter (%)maximum 4.0
Iodine number75-102
Acid number mg KOH/gmaximum 10.0
Peroxide number mEq O2/Kgmaximum 10.0
Fatty acid content (%)
C16:0 palmitic acid 10.0-25.0
C16:1 palmitoleic acid2.0 - 8.0
C18:0 stearic acid0.1 - 0.4
C18:1 oleic acid60.0 - 80.0
C18:2 linoleic acid7.0 - 20.0
C 18:3 α-linolenic acid0.2 – 1.0

*proposed standard from Woolf, A. et al. Avocado oil. From cosmetic to culinary oil, Gourmet and Health-Promoting Specialty Oils, R. Moreau and A. Kamal-Eldin, eds., AOCS Press, Urbana, Illinois, USA, 2009, pp. 73-125. Internal requirements may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer with minor deviations.

Useful references
  • Woolf, A., M. Wong, L. Eyres, T. McGhie, C. Lund, S. Olsson, Y. Wang, C. Bulley, M. Wang, E. Friel, and C. Requejo-Jackman, Avocado oil. From cosmetic to culinary oil, in Gourmet and Health-Promoting Specialty Oils, R. Moreau and A. Kamal-Eldin, eds., AOCS Press, Urbana, Illinois, USA, 2009, pp. 73-125.
  • Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(7):738-50.
  • The effect of various avocado oils on skin collagen metabolism. Werman MJ, Mokady S, Nimni ME, Neeman I. Connect Tissue Res. 1991;26(1-2):1-10.
  • Avocado (Persea americana) seed as a source of bioactive phytochemicals. Dabas D, Shegog RM, Ziegler GR, Lambert JD. Curr Pharm Des. 2013;19(34):6133-40.
  • Effect of Varietal Differences on Composition and Thermal Characteristics of Avocado Oil N., Yanty; J., Marikkar; K., Long Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society , Volume 88 (12) – Dec 1, 2011
  • Influence of avocado oil processing on the nature of some unsaponifiable constituents M., Farines; J., Soulier; A., Rancurel; M., Montaudoin; L., Leborgne Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society , Volume 72 (4) – Apr 1, 1995
  • Unsaponifiable matter, total sterol and tocopherol contents of avocado oil varieties Y., Lozano; C., Mayer; C., Bannon; E., Gaydou Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society , Volume 70 (6) – Jun 1, 1993
  • Influence of Proportion of Skin Present During Malaxing on Pigment Composition of Cold Pressed Avocado Oil Marie, Wong; Ofelia, Ashton; Tony, McGhie; Cecilia, Requejo-Jackman; Yan, Wang; Allan, Woolf Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society , Volume 88 (9) – Sep 1, 2011
  • The Effect of Various Avocado Oils on Skin Collagen Metabolism Werman, M. J.; Mokady, S.; Ntmni, M. E.; Neeman, I. Connective Tissue Research , Volume 26 (1-2) – Jan 1, 1991
  • Profile of Bioactive Compounds in Avocado Pulp Oil: Influence of the Drying Processes and Extraction Methods Marco, Santos; Tatiana, Alicieo; Claudio, Pereira; Guillermo, Ramis-Ramos;Carla, Mendonça Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society , Volume 91 (1) – Jan 1, 2014
  • Effect of Semisolid Formulation of Persea Americana Mill (Avocado) Oil on Wound Healing in Rats
  • de Oliveira, Ana Paula; Franco, Eryvelton de Souza; Rodrigues Barreto, Rafaella; Cordeiro, Daniele Pires; de Melo, Rebeca Gonçalves; de Aquino, Camila Maria Ferreira; e Silva, Antonio Alfredo Rodrigues; de Medeiros, Paloma Lys; da Silva, Teresinha Gonçalves; Góes, Alexandre José da Silva; Maia, Maria Bernadete de Sousa Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM , Volume 2013 – Jan 1, 2013
  • Unsaponifiable Matter in Plant Seed Oils. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013
  • Edible Oil Processing, 2nd Edition Wolf Hamm (Editor), Richard J. Hamilton (Editor), Gijs Calliauw (Editor)  July 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
  • Vegetable Oils in Food Technology: Composition, Properties and Uses, Second Edition Frank D. Gunstone Blackwell Publishing 2011
  • Bailey’s Industrial Oil and Fat Products (6 Volume Set) By Fereidoon Shahidi: Wiley-Interscience; 6 edition 2005


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