When it comes to trendy health food of the nut variety, the almond and cashew have had their glory (their milks and butters abound), the coconut—though technically not a nut, but close enough—has been in the spotlight, and the peanut, well, it’s at least offered on airplanes.
But now there’s a new all-star nut in town, and it’s just starting to get the recognition it deserves: the macadamia nut. In addition to tasting really, really good and being good for you (thank you, healthy fats), the perfectly petite, imperfectly round macadamia nut has serious beauty benefits.
Keep reading to discover why you need to bring this nut into your rotation, stat.
Though the most calorie-dense nut ounce for ounce, macadamia nuts also have the greatest amount of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (like oleic acid and palmitoleic acid), per serving. Monounsaturated fat is the “good fat” you’ve heard about, that our bodies actually need and that naturally lowers bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and blood pressure.
In fact, a 2006 study in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research found that 82.6 percent of the fat in macadamia nuts is monounsaturated. To put this in perspective, the most celebrated source of monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil, contains between 70 and 80 percent monounsaturated fat depending on the type.
Thanks to a powerful blend of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, squalene tocopherols (vitamin E), vitamin A, and flavonoids, macadamia nuts promote glowing skin from the inside out. Along with the fatty acids that protect and support overall cell health and hydration, the flavonoids and tocopherols in macadamia nuts act as antioxidants to neutralize skin-damaging free radicals.
What’s more, there is evidence that the high squalene content in macadamia nut oils can naturally help skin protect itself from the oxidizing effects of sun damage, specifically. Squalene is a naturally occurring antioxidant in human skin that helps fight sun damage and synthesizes vitamin D, so consuming macadamia nuts or applying topical macadamia nut oil may enhance the amount of squalene in skin tissue.
Macadamia nut oil is also incredibly moisturizing and nourishing when applied to your skin. The palmitoleic acid in the oil also makes skin appear plumper, tauter, and more radiant. Try rubbing the oil onto problem areas, like scaly dry patches, and see how quickly they heal.
In addition to good-for-you fats, the rich, nutty-sweet food is full of vitamins from the B vitamin complex, which support metabolic function and makes you feel energized. For their size, they also pack a fiber punch, with about 11 nuts getting you seven percent of your daily value of fiber. And because they’re so dense with fatty acids, just a handful can keep you fuller longer than other nuts.
When it comes to cooking, oils like olive and canola have relatively low smoke points, which means they’re not actually ideal for cooking. Macadamia oil, on the other hand, has a high smoke point which makes it the perfect stovetop cooking oil. You get the incredibly high percentage of monounsaturated fats (higher than canola oil by twenty percent, and, in some cases the same as or even higher than olive oil), but at a smoke point you can effectively cook with.
Additionally, it’s subtle flavor makes it a great base for all kinds of dressings, as well as a delicious topping on fish, chicken, vegetable, and stir fry dishes. Bonus idea: Top popcorn with it for way healthier, but still yummy, take on the movie version.
Once upon a time, dairy milk was the only option at coffee shops. Slowly but surely, soy milk earned its spot at the counter, and in the last few years, almond milk has become almost as prevalent as soy as an option for the health-minded. And even more recently, some trendy outposts have started to offer hemp, cashew and coconut milks. But a small-but-mighty coffee shop in the Larchmont neighborhood of Los Angeles, Go Get ‘Em Tiger, made headlines last year when The New York Times named their almond-macadamia milk latte “the best latte in America.” We will concede that it’s a blend of almond and macadamia nut milks, but it’s just the beginning of a trend we expect to see reaching new heights in 2015. After starting with just almonds, co-owner Charles Babinski said they added macadamia nuts for a “neutral fattiness” that rounded the milk out—and tastes unfathomably delicious.
Click here for Go Get 'Em Tiger's almond-macadamia milk recipe, and keep scrolling to shop our favorite macadamia oil-infused beauty products!