Your Avocado Oil Is Probably Rancid


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  • Avocado oil is a versatile, neutral oil with a high-smoke point that has grown in popularity in recent years.
  • Researchers found that nearly 70% of private label avocado oil is rancid or adulterated.
  • Cheaper avocado oil was more likely to be tainted with other oils.
  • There are a few ways to determine if your oil is rancid.

Touted for its many health benefits and neutral flavor that makes it versatile in cooking and baking, avocado oil has become a staple in many kitchens across the globe. One of its special characteristics is a high smoke point of nearly 500 °F, making the oil great for cooking with at high temperatures.

If avocado oil is a go-to in your house, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting a top quality product. But there are no standards on the chemical and physical characteristics of avocado oil at this time – that translates to the possibility of some avocado oil products containing other oils or additives, even if they are labeled as “pure.” A recent study out of the University of California, Davis took a closer look at the options available on the shelf.

The study, published in Food Control, analyzed 36 private label avocado oil products purchased from various retailers across the U.S. and Canada. Private label means that the products are made by a third-party and sold under a grocery store or retailer brand label.

 

Researchers graded the avocado oil products on quality and purity, and found that only 31% of the samples tested were pure. What’s more, the study found that only 36% of the tested samples were of the advertised quality and freshness, which means that the majority of the products tested had gone bad due to aging, heat or light exposure. An even more interesting finding was that cheaper avocado oils were more likely to be adulterated or tainted with other oils.

But this is not the first time tainted avocado oil has been in the spotlight. The first study out of UC Davis, published in 2020, found that the vast majority of avocado oil in America was of poor quality, mislabeled or tainted with other oils. Of the 22 brands tested in the initial study, only two were found to be 100% pure – Chosen Foods and Marianne’s. Since that first study, there has been efforts to establish standards in this category, but there is still much more work to be done.

What should I look for when purchasing avocado oil?

It’s important to look for brands that test every batch of their avocado oil for purity and quality. The researchers recommend choosing virgin and extra virgin avocado oil that is green and has mild flavors. Refined avocado oil may be more yellow or even clear and free from flavor. It’s also important to note that an oil cannot be both refined (or expeller pressed) and cold pressed, so be on the lookout for this discrepancy when shopping. Lower cost avocado oil was more likely to be tainted with other oils, but that isn’t to say that more expensive options are completely pure.

How to tell if your avocado oil has gone bad

The first sign that your avocado oil may be rancid is the smell. If it smells stale or “sort of like play dough,” according to researchers, it’s no good. Another thing to look for is if the color or texture has changed at all since opening. Even pure avocado oil will go bad around six months after opening, especially if it isn’t stored correctly. Store it in a cool, dark place, such as a cabinet away from the stove.

Is avocado oil healthy?

Not only does avocado oil have one of the highest levels of healthy monounsaturated fats of all oils, but it’s also low in polyunsaturated fats making it a heart-healthy choice. Avocado oil even contains beneficial antioxidants like lutein, which plays a significant role in eye health. Although it shouldn’t replace sunscreen, research has found that both topically and when consumed, avocado oil may protect against UV rays as it helps nourish and protect the skin. Its mild to neutral flavor makes it great for cooking and baking.

The bottom line: Avocado oil is a versatile, neutral oil with a high smoke point that has become a staple in many American kitchens. But new research shows that a large amount of options on the shelves may be rancid or tainted with other oils and additives. Be sure to look for virgin and extra virgin avocado oil that is green and has mild flavors. Prioritize avocado oil brands that test every batch for purity and quality.

Headshot of Stefani Sassos, M.S., R.D.N., C.S.O., C.D.N., NASM-CPT

Nutrition Lab Director

Stefani (she/her) is a registered dietitian, a NASM-certified personal trainer and the director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab, where she handles all nutrition-related content, testing and evaluation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from NYU. She is also Good Housekeeping’s on-staff fitness and exercise expert. Stefani is dedicated to providing readers with evidence-based content to encourage informed food choices and healthy living. She is an avid CrossFitter and a passionate home cook who loves spending time with her big fit Greek family.



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