Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
27 Jan

Smart Fuel: Macadamia Oil

What can compare to the sweet, buttery mac nut’s tender embrace? As far as nuts, seeds, and pseudo-nuts go, its fatty acid profile is unparalleled. Throw a handful into a bowl of Greek yogurt, along with blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries (or any berry, really), and you’ve got yourself a rich, masterful dessert with minimal linoleic acid. And it’s got good amounts of magnesium, manganese, thiamine, copper, and iron. Pack a baggy full and you’ve got yourself the perfect trail food for day long hikes. Suffice it to say, they’re my go-to snack when I’m feeling a bit peckish throughout the day.

But that’s not why I’m here today – to extoll the virtues of the macadamia nut.

I tend to get a little carried away when it comes to those little mouth bombs of satiety, so I apologize. Today’s post concerns the mac nut’s lifeblood: macadamia oil. I know what I’ve said about seed oils in the past, but this is different. I liken the concept of macadamia nut oil to that of olive oil; they are inherently, obviously, blatantly fatty foods, and extracting said fat isn’t a stretch, nor does it require industrial solvents and complex processes (they may do so to increase production and efficiency, but you can crush a mac nut and leave an oily residue; you can’t do the same for a kernel of corn to produce corn oil). In fact, the layman extracts his own virgin, first-press macadamia nut oil every time he bites into one. You can feel the macadamia oil droplets oozing out of the obliterated nut mass and into your mouth. Being the most energy (specifically, fat-derived energy) dense nut of all, it’s totally saturated with the stuff.

Macadamia oil imparts a mild, buttery, rather macadamia-y flavor to foods, but it’s mild enough to use for homemade mayonnaise. It is highly shelf-stable and resistant to heat-induced oxidation; in one test, it bested rice bran oil, walnut oil, sesame oil, almond oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, and hazelnut oil in an oxidative potential test. Of all the seed and nut oils, macadamia oil withstood temperatures up to 120 degrees C (about 250 degrees F) without significant oxidation. It also excelled at the shelf stability test, being the only oil tested that exceeded the manufacturer’s given “best-before” date. I rarely expect companies to be totally accurate, but to be completely wrong in the opposite direction is a nice surprise! Keep your macadamia oil in a dark bottle and in the fridge, or a cool dark place, and I bet it’ll stay fresh even longer. I’m still wary of doing any heavy duty sauteeing or high heat grilling using macadamia oil as the primary fat, but it looks to be pretty stable as far as oils go with a smoke point of anywhere between 210 and 234 degrees C (410-453 degrees F), depending on who you ask.

Macadamia oil owes its stability mostly to its extremely low omega-6 fatty acid content (the lowest of all traditional cooking oils, next to coconut oil), high monounsaturated fatty acid content (it runs over 80% MUFA, mostly oleic acid, which is higher than olive oil’s content), and a decent portion of saturated fat (around 16%, which is pretty good for a nut oil). Omega-6 linoleic acid is the most unstable, so having almost none of it makes macadamia oil superior to most. Macadamia oil also contains varying amounts of antioxidants which appear to confer some antioxidative (surprise, surprise) support. One study of vitamin E in Hawaiian cultivars found that while the tocopherol content was basically nonexistent, comparatively higher amounts of tocotrienols (T3) were detected in samples of macadamia oil extracts, including appreciable amounts of alpha-, beta-, and gamma-tocotrienols (no delta-tocotrienols were found). Though the bioavailability of tocotrienols after oral ingestion is lower than that of tocopherols, tocotrienols are more potent antioxidants. Besides, we should be focused on reducing oxidation of the fat we’re about to consume, rather than consume oxidized fats and then try to mitigate the damage by consuming antioxidants. Tocotrienols in macadamia oil seem to achieve that. Consider that walnut oil contains some of the highest levels of tocopherols and yet is the most prone to rancidity and oxidation. Don’t think that tocotrienols are totally useless orally, though; orally ingested tocotrienols have evinced bioavailability in a number of tissues and organs.

That same study also found that macadamia nut oils are rich sources of squalene, a naturally occurring antioxidant present in human skin surface lipids that protects us from sun-induced lipid peroxidation. It’s primarily used in our bodies to synthesize both cholesterol and vitamin D, but its role in macadamia nuts may be to prevent oxidative damage – kinda like how it does to our skin cell lipids. At any rate, it’s a complex relationship, the one between fatty acid profile, antioxidant content, and stability, but it can be said with reasonable certainty that monounsaturated fats are more stable than polyunsaturated fats, and antioxidants play some role in oxidative protection of fats.

Another feature of macadamia oil is its palmitoleic acid content. Palmitoleic acid is an omega-7 monounsaturated fat; it’s a common constituent of human adipose tissue, and we synthesize it from saturated palmitic acid. The most prominent fatty acid in human sebum, the natural moisturizer produced by the body, is palmitoleic acid. It has positive effects on blood lipids (without the oxidative potential of the highly unsaturated fatty acids that are so often lauded for their similarly “positive effects”) and, given its resemblance to sebum, makes for an effective moisturizer. I even tried shaving with macadamia oil to great effect. A half dozen drops applied to my shower-softened facial hair provided adequate protection from my razor. Plus, without all that cream or gel, I could see where I was going with the blade.

What about varying grades of macadamia oil – is there yet a caste system in place, like with olive oil? Not obviously. It’s still a relative newcomer to the scene, and most macadamia nut oils are fairly expensive and boutique-y. I’ve been sampling one from Whole Foods, the name of which I’m not sure (and I don’t have it in front of me), and it tastes fine. You could always hop on Amazon and see what the reviews are saying about the different mac nut oils. Given the stability of the oil and the lack of market saturation, I imagine most macadamia oils you come across will be edible. Just look for macadamia oils that actually taste like macadamia nuts; you’ll know it by the buttery flavor and the golden color. Perhaps in a year or two we’ll be able to produce a comprehensive “Definitive Guide to Macadamia Oils,” but not quite yet.

You can use macadamia oil for salad dressings, personal hygiene (shaving, moisturizing, perhaps even sunblock given the squalene content), light sauteeing and stir frying, mayo-making, and essentially anything you’d normally use olive oil for.

You can buy macadamia oil at most grocery stores now, or you can look online for (probably) better deals. Here are a few I was able to dig up:

  • NOW Foods makes an oil from organic, unhybridized macadamia nuts.
  • Species Nutrition seems to have a reasonable offering.
  • Brookfarm makes a macadamia oil that’s very popular on Amazon.
  • The popular Slanker’s Grass-Fed Meat folks have the “Oils of Aloha,” which include both regular and flavored macadamia oils.

In closing, I think macadamia oil has its place in Primal living. If you’re using olive oil, there’s no reason to exclude macadamia oil, and if you’re looking for a more neutral salad or light cooking fat, macadamia nut oil seems to fit the bill.

What kind of macadamia oil do you use (I’m always on the hunt for new stuff)? Any brands people should look out for? Let us know your mac oil experiences in the comments!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. We’ve purchased macnut oil directly from Oils of Aloha and it’s a nice, mild oil. I also tried the NOW macnut oil, and it had a very strong flavor (too strong for my tastes, although others might like it).

    Nancy wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • finally now I know how to lose weight and develop my muscles to look more manly, thanks ahahahaa wrote on December 9th, 2015
  2. My favorite nut. Thats handy. :)

    Onge wrote on January 27th, 2011
  3. I use Mac nut oil from “Vital choice” – very smooth, mild and buttery taste.

    Resurgent wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • That’s good to know. I love Vital Choice’s Wild Red traditional canned salmon, no salt added. Next time I order salmon from them I’ll get some of their macnut oil too.

      Nancy wrote on January 27th, 2011
      • Vital Choice Macadamia Oil is profoundly delicious. It is MILES above any other mac oil. YUM and a big smile on this stuff!

        beverly wrote on January 29th, 2012
  4. I very much enjoy the Now Foods Macadamia Nut Oil. I buy it from because they have such high turnover. That way, I can be sure the oil will be exceptionally fresh.

    katherine wrote on January 27th, 2011
  5. We LOVE the Brookfarm one. Great deal on Amazon, too!

    Ashley wrote on January 27th, 2011
  6. In my shopping list there is a blank that reads, “What ever Mark is talking about this week” Here is yet another thing I’ve never tried that is bound to become a favorite. I’m already thinking of good uses for mac nut oil.

    Poppabear wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • lol! I concur. Amazon must LOVE Mark almost as much as we do! 😉

      Jen Duncan wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • Lol. I should make out my list that way because I’ve been shopping that way too.

      julietx wrote on January 27th, 2011
  7. This stuff has been on the rise, it’s supposed to be better than olive oil an — a different taste is nice too, especially when cooking eggs.

    Nicky Spur wrote on January 27th, 2011
  8. My little bro (I can say that now after he lost nearly 90 lbs Primal!) discovered you could by 80% dark chocolate covered macadamia, I daren’t try one, they are moreish enough just naked!

    I love them and they are good for me :-)

    Kelda wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • What is the name brand of the nuts, and where did he buy them?

      Tee wrote on January 27th, 2011
      • I don’t know I’m afraid he just told me about them. I live in the UK so probably wouldn’t be a brand you could buy in the US.

        Mind you nothing to stop making them, easy to melt down a little dark chocolate in a bowl over steaming water and then coat the nuts and let them cool.

        Kelda wrote on January 27th, 2011
      • When eating macadamia nuts just remember not to eat too many. Depending on the brand some of them can be quite salty, which can make you thirsty for water, and water & macadamia nuts is not a good combination. Here’s a video of a near fatal incident of macadamia nut over ingestion that required an emergency surgery, just skip ahead to the 4:00 minute mark, or the 18:16 mark for the outcome.

        andyinla wrote on February 1st, 2011
      • This is the best oil ever, better than olive oil of course. Once you test it, you wont settle for any other oil again. We are a South African company and supply it to any part of this world . We also do bulk in 200 litre drums. Feel free to order. leave a comment.

        T.L. charamba wrote on August 2nd, 2013
        • Hi there
          I live in SA and would love to get your details for Macadamia Oil please – it is wonderful stuff.

          Gizelle wrote on August 4th, 2013
        • I would like to purchase bulk macadamia oil.

          Best Regards,

          Happy New Year to you and your family!

          Don Weaver

          Don Weaver wrote on January 9th, 2014
        • Hello. What is the name of your company please? Is the macadamia grown in SA or just refined there? I know Malawi which is nearby grows a lot of Macadamia.

          Duwa wrote on April 29th, 2014
        • How can I place order with your company, would appreciate more details , thanks, Tahir

          Tahir wrote on May 2nd, 2014
        • Hi. Where about are you based and do you buy from farmers? If so, at what stage of the processing do you take delivery? Thanks.

          Bryan vd Westhuizen wrote on June 19th, 2014
        • If any body is still looking for good quality cold pressed macadamia but oil, in SA, please email me for details. Debra

          Debra Osborn wrote on August 18th, 2014
        • Please advise of how you process the mac nuts, cold expeller process or? What is the time from bottling to shipping? Do you use dark glass or plastic? Do you ship to Toronto Canada if so through whom do you distribute? Pricing info appreciated.

          George Kozub wrote on February 11th, 2015
  9. 250 degrees stable – that’s good as mild heat cooking with olive oil, yes? and can you tell me where i can get financing for the purchase of this lovely stuff? 😉

    if you can get raw milk, make a little cheese and then grab the oh-so-versatile whey – making that suggested mayonnaise with a little whey (to ferment it a bit) and the mac. nut oil would undoubtedly be killer! we did this with olive oil and it was tasty provided you like the taste of olive oil (a bit strong) – the mac nut sound like a better choice.

    DaiaRavi wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • mountainroseherbs has it for $88 a gallon plus about $7 shipping. organic too. i buy all my oils, spices, teas and herbs in bulk from them.

      disclaimer: i am not related to or associated with anyone in that company.

      bee wrote on January 28th, 2011
  10. Going to try some Mac oil after reading that!

    Afsjesse wrote on January 27th, 2011
  11. Ooh, I will definitely have to pick some up next time I see it! I’ve stuck strictly to coconut oil and olive oil, but when it comes to scrambling my eggs, I don’t like the taste of either of those. Maybe macadamia nut oil is just what I need :)

    Tara wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • Tara, nothign beats Bacon fat when preparing eggs!

      Joel wrote on October 17th, 2011
  12. The mac oil looks great!

    Mark, could you take a look at this article about a new study on salt–

    And try to read through the bs journalish? What’s the deal with salt and heart problems?

    Brenda S wrote on January 27th, 2011
  13. We use it and love it. Avocado oil too for fish & meat, but it’s pricey.

    Primal Palette wrote on January 27th, 2011
  14. Check out

    I haven’t tried their mac oil, but all their other products are awesome. I’m adding it to my list for my next order. Thanks for the post!

    Shady Lady wrote on January 27th, 2011
  15. Have used Mac nut oil for quite a few years now and as a substitute for veggie oil in most recipes. Even in baking the occasional bake good with, of course, my all purpose flour substitute of equal parts pure whey protein powder, flax meal, and almond or coconut flour depending on the texture I am needing.

    Karla Ward wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • Awesome! I am thinking of using macadamia nut oil to make yeast bread in my bread machine. Do you think that would work?

      Renee wrote on June 23rd, 2011
    • What is that recipe for that AP flour?

      It would make my job as a chef atg home that much easier.
      Thank You.

      Jonathan Jones wrote on July 14th, 2011
  16. I love Mac nut! I use it in my hair, and it’s made my dry, lifeless, straw-like hair turn around and become almost radiant again! :)

    Amy wrote on January 27th, 2011
  17. got a question. Looking online for suppliers here in the UK, i can find macadamia nut oil on “hair/skincare” sites MUCH cheaper than on “bodybuilder/ nutrition” sites. Is this exactly the same stuff (pure oil obviously, not “perfumed” or something. Its even sold as a massage base oil)??

    Anyone know??

    denise wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • Denise, from what I have seen, two different grades are produced and sold by Macadamia farms….. Food Grade… and Cosmetic grade.

      I am not sure what the difference is, but I do believe they are different in some way.

      Billy wrote on February 4th, 2011
      • The difference between food grade and cosmetic grade is very subtle. The oil used in skin care products is refined a little further to remove the characteristic odor and therefore the flavor that is best for cooking. We have been manufacturing both in Hawaii for over 22 years. Aloha!

        barbara b. gray wrote on February 4th, 2011
    • Straight from Hawaii. It’s the freshest. And yes, they ship internationally.

      keri wrote on November 21st, 2011
  18. “Macadamias are toxic to dogs.” — Wikipedia

    Would the oil be toxic to dogs?

    If you fried a little pork or beef in the oil, would the dog get poisoned it you gave him some?

    Bruce wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • Hey Bruce, I wouldn’t chance it. The cause of the toxicity to dogs is still unknown. It happened to my dog a few years ago. Friends were feeding him the nuts at their home. The next morning he could not walk – temporary paralysis of the hindquarters. The emergency vet ($$) took x-rays and had no idea. He was fine within a couple of hours.

      Feed your dog that meat raw!

      HillSideGina wrote on January 27th, 2011
      • I wouldn’t personally panic. My dog loves mac nuts. I’d be more concerned about obstructions from whole nuts (uncracked).

        alley cat wrote on January 29th, 2011
      • I wouldn’t worry too much about dogs eating macadamia nuts. We grow macadamia nuts and my dog loves them – she manages to bite through that hard shell and get to the nut inside. No way I could stop her as the trees drop the nuts when they are ripe and she is an outdoor dog who finds them herself. I think it may be that in large quantities – for instance a small dog eating a lot, that the problems occurs. My girl is about 80 lbs and looks to me like she eats maybe 5 or 6 nuts a day from the shells I find around her pillow on the porch. She is totally healthy and full of energy and I see no reaction to eating the nuts.

        Carol wrote on June 1st, 2014
  19. Going to have to try macadamia oil after reading all that. I have been using mainly coconut and olive oil, but neither of those is very good in homemade mayo. Might try this in some of my natural beauty recipes as well.

    Katie wrote on January 27th, 2011
  20. I can’t help but start to think of this as the inroad to revolutionizing “Mac’n’Cheese”. I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist. 😉

    Has anyone ever tried or tried to make macadamia nut butter?

    Malin wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • We’ve made macadamia nut butter in our vita-mix and it was delish. I’m so glad that macas are so good for us since they are the only nut that my husband isn’t deathly allergic to!

      Cecimami wrote on January 29th, 2011
  21. This is great news! I just bought some from Natural Producers here locally. I love the taste, and I have used it in cooking already. It definitely beats Olive oil for flavor.

    Johnny wrote on January 27th, 2011
  22. A new trend I’ve noticed is the proliferation of alchemical combinations of industrial seed oils and natural oils purporting to have the best of both worlds. I was horrified to discovered my local bar no longer carries grass fed beef and had switched from tallow to Canolive (Canola + Olive oil).

    80% mono-unsaturated fat?

    Matthew wrote on January 27th, 2011
  23. how interesting..! I once shaved with olive oil.

    richard wrote on January 27th, 2011
  24. I haven’t tried making macademia nut butter, but I suppose the process is very similar to making almond butter. I buy a jar of macademia but butter now and again, and it has a very neat, sweet, mild taste to it. Very addicting though and you can’t eat whole lot becasue it’s soooo rich.

    chocolatechip69 wrote on January 27th, 2011
  25. Shame they’re so dear. They are wonderful in pesto.

    kem wrote on January 27th, 2011
  26. About the nuts themselves, I just asked around and found a site where you can buy pesticide/chemical free macadamia nuts online, for $15/lb (Not sure how good the price is due to not having seen them before);

    Brett K wrote on January 27th, 2011
  27. I make chicken salad with mac oil and a little sea salt in place of mayo. It’s delicious, the mac oil and sea salt really bring out the flavors of the chicken, celery, walnuts, and apple.

    Christie wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • Thanks! This is gonna be in hubby’s lunch in the somewhat near future…

      Sara wrote on June 22nd, 2011
  28. Very interesting, I hadn’t really considered mac nut oil.

    I LOVE the nuts though…

    If you can find them raw, try them!

    I once stayed on a farm on the north shore of Kauai, and part of the benefit of staying there was you could eat anything on the farm, including macadamia nuts, oranges, bananas, papayas, and avocados.

    Our host had big bowls of mac nuts in the shell. and a contraption set up that would crack the super-hard shells.

    The raw mac nuts were incredible! It’s funny, they didn’t really taste anything like the dry-roasted ones I buy here.

    Keep up the great work Mark!


    Rob wrote on January 27th, 2011
  29. I love macadamia nuts, but they are too expensive for me to consume regularly. Does anyone know where you can buy macadamias that are under ten dollars a pound?

    Josh wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • has whole raw Macadamia’s for $8.18 a pound. I’ve ordered them several times.

      Steve wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • costco sells large-ish containers of macadamia nuts, for what seems like a reasonable price. I got some at a Trader Joes much cheaper, but they tasted old and awful.

      fitmom wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • Move to Australia. Plant your own tree.

      alley cat wrote on January 29th, 2011
      • There are more macadamias grown commercially in Hawaii than Australia same as Israel grows more commercial Austraian wildflowers – that is imperialism for you…

        Chris wrote on June 19th, 2012
    • I pay $4 a kilo for unshelled nuts(sensational fresh taste as compared to the cracked nut) and about $6.50 a litre for the oil. Last century I purhased a kilo of nuts with a crack.a.mac cracker for $10 and I probably get through 2 or 3 kilos a month depending on availability. If enough people are interested I may be able to supply.

      Chris wrote on June 19th, 2012
  30. Thanks Mark. macadamia nuts are my favourite and you just answered all the questions I had about them :)

    Kitty wrote on January 27th, 2011
  31. Thanks, this is so great to know. I have been using some macadamia oil (Melrose brand here in Australia) as a salad dressing – but I was so worried about it going rancid quickly. The last thing you want after spending so much money on the oil, is for it to be rancid. This post has made me feel more comfortable – and I have just gone and taken my bottle out of the fridge (where it becomes almost too thick to use) and put it back in the pantry!

    Sharon wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • from what I have read… due to its composition, it is shelf stable for up to 2 years.

      Billy wrote on February 4th, 2011
  32. We’ve been buying this Australian brand for awhile–it’s excellent:

    Scott wrote on January 27th, 2011
  33. I’m so lucky to live in Australia, home of the macadamia nut 😀
    I use Suncoast Gold Vitality extra-virgin cold-pressed mac oil for salads, mayonnaise and skin moisturiser (will try shaving my legs with it next time, good idea!).
    I don’t find it that expensive, $8 for 1/2 a litre is about the same as a mid-range bottle of EV olive oil.

    Emma wrote on January 27th, 2011
    • I not only dislike the taste of olive oil but am extremely allergic to it – gives me bad gut problems if I ingest it and a nasty eczema if it touches my skin – so I haven’t used it for more than 20 years (and can’t even look at the stuff without a shudder). The main oils we now use for cooking, salads etc are macadamia oil and sometimes peanut oil.

      We also live in Australia: near the north coast of NSW which is an area where macadamias are native. There is a huge tree in our garden, currently laden with yummy nuts……the only problem is trying to open those incredibly tough shells!

      So yes it seems strange to see other people writing that it is “too expensive”. Several good brands of the oil are stocked in all the local supermarkets at reasonable cost. “Suncoast Gold” is the usual one we buy, and at around $6.50-7.00 for a 500ml bottle it seems like good value for such a great product, especially compared to the overpriced EV OOils on adjacent shelves.

      Christie07 wrote on April 14th, 2014
  34. Curses! I’m allergic to macadamia nuts and others in that family. It’s amazing how our bodies change as we get older ~ I used to eat these without any issues just 10 years ago.
    *poor me*

    Toni wrote on January 28th, 2011
  35. Love macadamia. So worth the price.

    Ahmed wrote on January 28th, 2011

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