Macadamia Nut Oil and Health

If you haven’t visited the cooking oil section of your grocery store lately, you may have missed the more prominent shelf position of macadamia nut oil, increasingly touted for its nuanced flavour and health benefits. Featured in the in-vogue Hamptons Diet, macadamia nut oil compares favorably to its peers, including olive oil and canola oil. Although a little pricey (just like the nuts from which it’s extracted), macadamia nut oil is a heart-friendly cooking oil that has the double-punch culinary practicality and good taste.

Macadamia Nut Oil and Health: How’s it different?

Extracted primarily from Australian and Hawaiian macadamia nuts, this oil boasts a higher percentage of monounsaturated fat than even olive oil. Specifcally, it contains palmetolaic acid, which is one of the unsaturated fats that results in lower cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fats are considered better than polyunsaturated fats because they tend to decrease the “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL) while not cutting the “good” cholesterol levels (HDL). Put another way: macadamia nut oil and its palmetolaic acid is like olive oil with its oleic acid – better for you than even safflower, soybean, and corn oils. Most of the macadamia nut oils being sold out there are range from 75% – 80% monounsaturated fat, typically beating olive oil by a few percentage points.

Macadamia Nut Oil and Health: What does it taste like?

So it’s a little better for the cardiovascular system than other oils, but you may be wondering about the flavour. The taste of macadamia nut oil is actually lighter than most other oils, folding nutty undertones into a buttery sensibility – in other words, pleasant and subtle, roch but not overpowering. It combines well with fish, chicken, and vegetables. Another side benefit of macadamia nut oil is its higher smoking point (around 400 degrees). This makes it friendlier for frying at high temperatures, and if you insist on the occasional batch of friend cheese like I do, you’ll want to try this substitution despite its expense.

Macadamia Nut Oil and Health: Can I do anything else with it besides cook?

The answer, as even I was surprised to learn, is yes. While you’d probably never think of using canola oil or corn oil in a spa setting, it turns out that macadamia nut oil is appropriate as a topical. Some aromatherapy providers, including Nature’s Gift, recommend macadamia nut oil for toning and softening the skin and providing a relaxing fragrance that does not overpower. Macadamia nut oil is also included in various lip balms and other skin care products. And then there’s always the massage avenue.

Macadamia Nut Oil and Health: What about production methods?

Some makers of macadamia nut oil pledge to use only “unrefined, unhybridized” nuts. Others stamp the label “organic” on the bottle but don’t provide any explanation. If the method of production is important to you, contact the specific producer/distributor for details about their macadamia nut oil. They should be able to tell you where and how the nuts they use are grown, ripened, and processed; whether they were cold-pressed; if any solvents were used, etc.

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