In the western hemisphere we associate macadamias with the Hawaiian Islands. The Macadamia tree however is native to the northeast Australian rainforests. Today, macadamia trees are also found in tropical and subtropical areas of 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 oil is expressed from the harvested nut meat.
How does macadamia compare to olive oil?
Healthy dietary fats-
Both oils are heart-healthy fats rich in monounsaturated fats. Macadamia oil contains the highest levels of Palmitoleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, than any botanical source. It is highly valued for stroke prevention. Macadamia nut oil contains 85% monounsaturated fats, exceeding olive oil, which is 76%. The ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids in macadamia oil is perfectly balanced.
Skin and hair care-
Both oils are revered for softening and moisturizing the skin and hair. The high content of Palmitoleic acid in macadamia oil also gives it beneficial, anti-aging properties. Palmitoleic acid is naturally found in human skin oil; however, as we age, the amount diminishes. Topical applications and ingesting macadamia oil helps replenish this oil, and may prevent age spots, and slow the aging process. It can be used topically as beard oil. Both olive oil and macadamia oil are used in hot oil treatments to relieve dry and damaged hair conditions.
Antioxidant rich, vitamin E-
Macadamia 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.
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. It makes a great, healthy addition to salad dressings, hummus, condiments, and drizzled over foods. In contrast, macadamia 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 when drizzled on vegetables and fish.
Shelf stability and longevity-
Premium macadamia 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, Macadamia oil should be minimally processed, pressed in chilled expellers and filtered without the use of heat or chemicals.
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Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success. Check out Lowell and Deborah's super sturdy and handsome DIY Gardening Potting Bench Plans.