Move over olive oil, macadamia nut oil is making a name for itself. More and more people are reaching for this delicious, slightly nutty, buttery oil in place of olive oil as their all-purpose oil. It is spreading in popularity across the globe and is destined to reach top-shelf status in homes everywhere for its wonderful flavor and health benefits.
In the Western Hemisphere, we associate macadamia nuts with the Hawaiian Islands. But believe it or not, macadamia trees are native to the northeast Australian rainforests, but thrive in tropical and subtropical climates, which is why they are found in Hawaii, Middle Americas, Brazil, South Africa and, of course, Australia. There are at least seven species of macadamia trees, yet only two produce edible nuts that are grown as a food crop. Macadamia nut oil is expressed from the harvested nut meat.
How Does Macadamia Nut Oil Compare to Olive Oil?
Heart Healthy Fats
While both oils are heart-healthy and rich in monounsaturated fats, macadamia nut oil contains the highest levels of Palmitoleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, than any botanical source, making it highly valued for stroke prevention. Macadamia nut oil contains 85% monounsaturated fats, exceeding olive oil, which contains 76%. The ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids in macadamia nut oil is perfectly balanced.
Beneficial to Hair and Skin
Additionally, both oils are revered for softening and moisturizing the skin and hair. The high content of Palmitoleic acid in macadamia nut oil also gives it beneficial, anti-aging properties. Palmitoleic acid is naturally found in the natural oils in human skin; however, as we age, the amount diminishes. Topical applications and ingesting macadamia nut oil helps to replenish this oil and may prevent age spots, and slow the aging process. Both olive oil and macadamia nut oil are used in hot oil treatments to relieve dry and damaged hair conditions.
Antioxidant Rich Vitamin E
Macadamia nut oil contains up to four times as much vitamin E than olive oil. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that works to prevent cataracts, cancer, cell damage and the formation of free radicals, and cardiovascular disease. It also promotes healthy skin, normal blood clotting, and healing.
Macadamia nut oil has a high smoke point of 410° F, making it less likely to oxidize when heated, making it the perfect oil for cooking and baking. This versatile oil also adds a delicious flavor and nutritional benefits to uncooked recipes such as mayonnaise, salad dressings, and drizzled on vegetables and fish. The smoke point of olive oil varies based on the quality of the oil and how it was extracted. Virgin olive oil has a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil. Nonetheless, olive oil is heat sensitive, and prone to oxidize when heated. Thus, olive oil should only be used uncooked in things like drizzled over hummus and in salad dressings. But try substituting macadamia nut oil for a buttery, delicious flavor.
Shelf Stability & Longevity
Premium macadamia nut oil has a shelf life of up to five years. Olive oil has a shelf life of one to two years. Both oils should be stored in dark, glass bottles in a cool dark place.
To relish the full, unadulterated flavor and quality of this rich golden oil, look for macadamia nut oil that is minimally processed, pressed in chilled expellers and filtered without the use of heat or chemicals.
Have you tried macadamia nut oil? Thoughts?
Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.