Olive, Avocado, Rapeseed/Canola, & Macadamia Nut Oil
-a comparison of four major cooking oils
1. Quality is of primary importance. Unless an oil is extra virgin it will have few culinary or nutritional benefits and may in fact produce negative results.
The oils must be quality oils if the full culinary and health benefits are to be obtained. This means:
• Dark glass bottles to keep out light and oxygen, which can make oils rancid even while on the supermarket shelf. Never buy oils in plastic (PET) containers; these leak oxygen. Rancid oil is bad for health.
• Extra virgin oils are natural products produced with low heat to preserve all the healthful goodness, without additives.
• Refined oils are bleached and deodorised, with the application of heat. This produces a clear tasteless oil that leaves a greasy taste on cooked food.
• It's better to have a quality oil and use less of it than a cheap refined oil that has little nutritional value, and at worst has negative health consequences.
While the label may say extra virgin, unfortunately not all oils are true to label. In Australia, New Zealand and Canada research has shown that many olive oils labeled extra virgin are blended with refined oils or oils that are not olive oil, or do not meet the extra virgin quality standards. Ensure that you buy a quality product. Usually, this will be more expensive than the bulk brands and presented in dark glass bottles.
2. Taste/Flavour: it's necessary to understand the culinary uses of the different quality oils. Each of the oils has its unique flavour profile, which also determines its place in the kitchen.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, made from the pulp of the olive fruit, is a flavor statement of its own. For thousands of years it has been as a valuable food source. It is used for warm foods and cold foods that require the particular flavor range of extra virgin olive oils. These range from fruity, mellow flavor tones to the back of throat challenging fresh oils that taste of Tuscany in the hot summer.
The peppery after taste of an Extra Virgin Olive Oil means that it is high in polyphenols, the active ingredient that gives Extra Virgin Olive Oil its healthy properties. The amount of polyphenols in Extra Virgin Olive Oil can range from 100mg/kg to 800mg/kg, so not all Extra Virgin Olive Oils give the same taste and health benefits. Refined and second pressed olive oils contain very few polyphenols.
Never heat Extra Virgin Olive Oil over 365°F; it degrades with the heat.
Extra Virgin Avocado Oil:
Olivado Extra Virgin Avocado Oil is made from the pulp of the avocado, which is a fruit. The process was developed by Olivado in New Zealand in 2000. The stone and skin is removed, the pulp crushed without applying heat, and a low heat process is used to gently remove approximately 80% of the oil from the pulp. (The skin, stones and waste water are used as a fertilizer, and the pulp as nutrient-rich cattle food).
Extra Virgin Avocado oil enhances the flavours of other foods. It has a rich smooth taste that combines well with spices and herbs and does not overpower delicate foods like fish. The resulting paste when mixed with spices like turmeric is rich, absorbed and integrated. It's an oil that children in the family will like as well as adults. Extra Virgin Avocado Oil can be used for high heat cooking oil (to 490°F). For deep frying it will still retain its green colour and structure after repeated uses. Extra virgin avocado oil lightly coats the ingredient and does not break down with heat so one uses much less than other oils. It gives a light crispy coating to food.
An excellent quality olive or avocado oil is a pleasure to eat alone with a good bread as a dip.
Cold Pressed Rapeseed/Canola Oil:
Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil is made using an expeller press from the seeds of the rape plant. Selective plant breeding of traditional rapeseeds by Canadian crop scientists in the 1970s created an edible oil from rapeseeds, known as Canola in North America. It is less expensive to produce than the other two oils, because cold pressing seed oils is a much less costly process than for extra virgin fruit oils like olive and avocado. The oil has a more robust flavour than either olive or avocado, which restricts its culinary uses. It can also be used as a high heat oil.
Macadamia Nut Oil:
Macadamia Nut Oil is also produced using an expeller press. The hard shells are removed and the nuts cold pressed, and then the oil filtered. Olivado's Macadamia Nut Oil is made from quality nuts grown in Australia's sunshine state, Queensland. It has a pale golden colour and a light, buttery flavor, making it an excellent and healthy butter substitute in cakes and pastries. Its relatively high smoke point (210°C) also makes it perfect for stir-frying and sautéing.
3. Health and nutritional profiles:
Just as the quality oils have different culinary and taste profiles, they have different health and nutritional profiles. So it is beneficial to have all three in the pantry. Unless these are extra virgin or cold pressed oils these health and nutritional benefits will not be present. Refined or, as they are sometimes called, 'pure' olive, avocado, or rapeseed oils cannot supply these very beneficial nutritional elements. So why spend less money on a cheaper product which has little goodness (food value) or is even bad for you.
Extra Virgin Olive oil:
Extra Virgin Olive oil is rich in polyphenols not found in the other two oils. As noted above, the polyphenols found in Extra Virgin Olive Oil vary by a much as 8 times. Variety, geographic location, climate, altitude and the picking and processing of fruit all impact on the polyphenol count. The higher the polyphenol count the longer the oil will keep its healthy properties. Polyphenols are known to assist with heart and circulatory issues, and for reducing harmful LDL ("bad" cholesterol), and increasing beneficial HDL ("good" cholesterol); they also give protection against free radical activity (i.e. an anti-oxidant).
Extra Virgin Olive Oil also contains omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids and has approximately 85% unsaturated and monounsaturated or healthy fats.
A good Extra Virgin Olive Oil should also have a very low acidity. Under 0.2% means it has been produced to the highest of standards.
Extra Virgin Avocado Oil:
Extra Virgin Avocado Oil is rich in plant sterols like beta sitosterol which help reduce cholesterol and which are not found in the other two oils. Unlike olive oil it has significant amounts of vitamin E, supplying 20% of the recommended daily allowance, and lutein, which helps prevent macular degeneration of the eyes.
It has 50% more vitamin E than cold-pressed rapeseed oil and extra virgin olive oil. The oil contains omega 6 and Omega 9 fatty acids. Extra virgin avocado oil has 89% unsaturated and monounsaturated or healthy fats – but only if grown in temperate climates, such as New Zealand, some of the central African highlands and parts of South America. Some varieties of avocado oil can contain up to 27% saturated fats, compared with the 11-14% saturated fats in Olivado's extra Virgin Avocado Oil.
Cold Pressed Rapeseed/Canola Oil:
Cold pressed Rapeseed Oil, unlike the other two oils, contains significant quantities of Omega 3 fatty acids (short chain as distinct from long chain omega 3 which is contained in fish oils). It contains, but is not a significant source of Vitamin E (as defined by the EU regulations). In terms of unsaturated and monounsaturated healthy fats it ranks at 92%.
Macadamia Nut Oil:
Macadamias and macadamia oil are low in damaging saturated fats, low in polyunsaturated fats, and high in monounsaturated (or "good") fats. Macadamia Nut Oil contains one of the highest levels of monounsaturated fat (84%) among all food oils, contributing to a nutritious and balanced diet, promoting longevity and a reduction in regenerative disease.
It is also very high in natural anti-oxidants and contains Omega 3 and Omega 6.
4. Sustainable and ecologic issues:
Olive, avocado and macadamia trees require fewer inputs to the growth cycle than an annual crop of rapeseed. Avocado trees are particularly good converters of carbon. Locally grown rapeseed can partially offset the greater inputs of field preparation and harvesting. However, long distance transport is not a big user of carbon inputs. Studies to rate carbon usage of the various oils have yet to be undertaken.