Defining Cold-Pressed Oil

Olive, walnut, almond oil

dulezidar / Getty Images

If you're curious about a raw vegan diet, chances are you need to know about oils. Can you use oils, such as coconut oil, flax oil, avocado oil, olive oil or sesame oil on a raw vegan food diet? Most people will say yes, as long as those oils are themselves raw and cold-pressed. But what, exactly, does cold-pressed oil mean, and why does it matter? Read on for a definition and to find out more. 

What Are Cold Pressed Oils and Does It Matter?

Cold-pressed oils are oils made by first grinding nuts, seeds, fruits or vegetables (depending on the oil being made) into a paste. Then an oil stone or other tool is used to press the paste which forces the oil to separate. Many labels use the term cold-pressed, but they aren't all considered raw and suitable for a truly 100% raw food diet.

To be considered truly raw and suitable for a raw vegan diet, the oil cannot be heated above 115 F. Some manufacturers will heat the paste to extract more oil. This alters not only the nutritional value of the food but also the color and flavor. The only way to know for sure if oil is truly raw is to contact the manufacturer directly.

What Does Expeller Pressed Mean? 

Another common industry term is expeller-pressed. These expeller-pressed oils are extracted by exposing the food to extreme pressure. This also may or may not involve heat. Stick to your trusted brands to ensure that the oil is truly raw if this is important to you. Most raw foodists stick to oils labeled "cold-pressed" whether it's cold-pressed olive oil, flax oil, hemp oil, coconut oil or sunflower oil.

Another reason to choose cold-pressed oils instead of expeller pressed? With cold-pressed oils, the flavor matters, and its often the first-run, highest quality ingredients which are used to extract the oils, whether its olives in Italy or tropical coconuts. 

You can also do some online research to find companies with strict raw regulations and effective investigative practices.