Deemed as one of the most expensive fruits in the world, avocados have become quite the rage these days. Owing to the bandwagon of vegan lifestyles and increased awareness about superfoods, avocado has come to rule the roost as fruit with numerous health benefits.
Traditional to Mexican recipes, avocados are increasingly used for various foods from sandwiches, salads, and soups to even sushi. So much so that, an entire restaurant dedicated to avocados opened its doors in Amsterdam in April this year. Chefs particularly enjoy working with its creamy consistency, while nutritionists swear by its health benefits. Avocado contains high amounts of monounsaturated fat or good fat as it is popularly known; along with vitamins A, B, C and E, proteins, lecithin and potassium. Rich in Vitamin B6 and folic acid, it is laden with antioxidants that are known to slow ageing.
Often treated as a vegetable, avocado is a subtropical tree, native to Mexico and South America. Mexico’s Michoacan state is reputedly the world’s leading exporter of avocados. Although US$800-million worth of the fruit is produced annually, it is gaining ground relatively slowly in Asia. The US is the biggest importer of avocados in the world so far, while China and Japan are the latest emerging markets.
Apart from being good for health, it is also a better alternative in the kitchen. It has the highest smoke point of all cooking oils — 525F, thus making it suitable for deep frying, high heat cooking, stir frying, sautéing, and the likes.
Sold at a premium in Asia, the goodness of this nutrient-rich fruit is now easier to access. Packaged in a bottle, cold-pressed Avocado oil, with a shelf life of about two years, is a healthy fat replacement. While olive oil and its variants have been popular as a healthier choice for years, cold-pressed Avocado oil is slowly creeping in as a better alternative, for reasons more than one.
GOOD FOR YOU
Unlike sunflower, peanut and sesame oils, avocado oil is made from the fruit instead of the seed. Olive oil, made from both the fruit and seed, has a sharp taste, best suited for seasoning and specific recipes. On the contrary, avocado oil has a mild, buttery and nutty flavour that does not overpower the real flavour of the food.
It has a light and smooth texture that is easy to absorb and blends in with all types of recipes. Full of beneficial fatty acids and vitamins, avocado oil retains 95% of the nutrition of the actual fruit, said Piyush Shah, managing director of Avocado Global, a leading importer and distributor of Avocado oil in South-east Asia.
Avocado oil contains 70% of monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid called oleic acid, 16% saturated fat, and 14% polyunsaturated fatty acids, which contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Apart from being good for health, it is also a better alternative in the kitchen. It has the highest smoke point of all cooking oils — 525F, thus making it suitable for deep frying, high heat cooking, stir frying, sautéing, and the like. Avocado’s neutral taste and high cooking temperatures also make it a suitable substitute for half of the butter required (or even fully replace it) in bakery products.
Singapore Chef John See said that he has fully switched to cooking with avocado oil at all his cooking demonstrations. “The high smoke point is very appealing to me as I don’t have to worry about the temperature while cooking”. He said avocado oil is great for Asian stir frys because the oil expands when heated and thus a small amount is good enough to coat a sizeable portion of vegetables.
With more health benefits than any other oil, avocado oil is popular only among the health-conscious consumers who are willing to pay a higher price. Hugely popular in the US, it is also used by snack manufacturers such as Cattle Chips.
While Asia is still lagging behind in adapting to healthier choices, the rise in consumption of the fruit in various countries is hope that the oil will gain popularity and gradually replace other cooking oils. “There is a severe lack of awareness about superfoods in Asia and we mostly follow health fads of the West,” said Shah.
In Singapore, it has been endorsed by the Health Promotion Board as a “healthier choice” and restaurants too are slowly moving towards this trend. “Rise, a restaurant at Marina Bay Sands, has recently switched to fully cooking with avocado oil,” Shah pointed out. And there is hope the trend will pick up once consumers realise the health benefits and demand for it, he added.