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How Do Newer, Healthier Nut Oils Compare?
Nut oils are all the rage these days. How do they compare with each other, especially regarding our health? This article takes a look at hazelnut oil, macadamia oil, pecan oil, pistachio oil, and walnut oil.
The color of hazelnut oil is pale yellow to light amber. The aroma is mildly nutty, consistency/ viscosity is thin, shelf life is about one year, and it has a smoke point (temperature at which oil begins to burn or break down, and smoke, producing a bitter taste) of 430 F/ 221 C. As with other oils, the less refined it is, the lower its smoke point.
Chemical Composition of Hazelnut Oil
The chemical composition of hazelnut oil include fatty acids oleic, linoleic, palmitoleic, and palmitic; vitamins B-complex (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9) and E (alpha-tocopherol); minerals potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and selenium; and dietary fiber.
Health Benefits of Hazelnut Oil
Research show that hazelnut oil helps to reduce our risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer especially of the bladder; synthesizes our neurotransmitters such as serotonin; prevents or provides relief from muscle spasms, soreness, cramps, and fatigue; increases and strengthens bone density so great for menopausal women; reduces anxiety and stress, and other issues of the nervous system; supports a healthy digestive system; prevents anemia; protects our cells from free radical damage; keeps our skin soft, pliable, and regenerates our skin cells, making it a great anti-aging product.
Uses of Hazelnut Oil
With a high smoke point hazelnut oil is good for deep frying, pan frying, grilling, and sautéing. It is also used in salad dressings especially vinaigrettes; as an olive oil substitute; in baked goods, candy, syrups, liqueurs, coffee, and Nutella. Hazelnut oil is also found in skincare, massage, and aromatherapy products.
Facts about Hazelnut
The botanical name of the deciduous hazelnut tree is Corylus avellana. Common names include European Hazel and Common Hazel. It is a member of the birch family and is native to Asia and Turkey. A hazelnut tree reaches an average height of 16 feet and width of 13 feet. Harvesting occurs after four years. Many hazelnut oil imports come from these regions. In the United States, it comes mostly from Oregon and Washington states.
Macadamia Nut Oil
Studies conclude that more than 75 percent of the macadamia nut is oil. The color of the extracted oil is light yellow to amber. The aroma is nutty and somewhat sweet. Viscosity is thick, and it has a two-year maximum shelf life; very stable. Macadamia oil’s smoke point is 390 F/ 199 C (other data record 410 F/ 210 C).
Chemical Composition of Macadamia Nut Oil
The chemical composition of macadamia nut oil include fatty acids oleic, palmitoleic, palmitic, and linoleic; anti-oxidant squalane or squalene; vitamins B-complex (1, 2, 3, 6), some A, and some E (alpha, beta, and gama tocopherols); minerals calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc; and dietary fiber.
Health Benefits of Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamia oil is a natural anti-inflammatory. It also prevents or treats Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular diseases; lowers bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and increases the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels; protects us from free radical cell damage; strengthens our immune system and vision; increases bone density which is good for menopausal women; treats our digestive system ailments; is an anti-aging proponent; moisturizes and softens the skin; heals scars and sunburns; reduces hair loss, and makes hair shiny.
Uses of Macadamia Nut Oil
Because of its high smoke point, macadamia nut oil can be used for deep frying, pan frying, sautéing, grilling, and searing. It can also be an olive oil substitute, and used in salad dressings and baked goods. It is also used as massage oil and in other aromatherapy products, cosmetics, and skincare.
Facts about Macadamia Nut
The botanical name of the macadamia nut tree is Macadamia integrifolia. It is native to Australia and commonly called Australian nut, Queensland nut, or bush nut. It also grows in South Africa, Brazil, and Hawaii. The tree reaches a height of 30 feet with a spread of 15 to 20 feet. Fruits are produced in the macadamia tree’s seventh year.
Pecan oil’s color is pale yellow. Its extremely light nutty aroma and flavor is usually overpowered by the flavor of the seasoning accompanying it. Its viscosity is medium and the smoke point is 470 F/ 210 C. Shelf life is about one year but if refrigerated or stored in a cool place after opening, it will last longer.
Chemical Composition of Pecan Oil
Pecan oil has a rich supply of monounsaturated oleic acid and polyunsaturated linoleic acid as well as some palmitic and stearic acids; anti-oxidants; protein; vitamins A, B-complex (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9), C, and K; minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc; and dietary fiber. Pecan oil also contains 9.5 percent of saturated fat, but note that olive oil has 13.5 percent.
Health Benefits of Pecan Oil
Pecan oil helps to reduce the risk of coronary disease, stroke, diabetic neuropathy, high blood pressure, and rheumatoid arthritis; it reduces symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease; it lowers the bad LDL cholesterol; protects our cells from free radical damage; strengthens our bones and relieves other symptoms of menopause; relieves skin problems; and stimulates hair growth and weight loss.
Uses of Pecan Oil
As an oil with a high smoke point, it is great for deep frying, pan frying, grilling, and sautéing. Pecan oil can also be used in salad dressings, marinades, baked goods (pecan pie, yum), and as a massage oil or in other aromatherapy products.
Facts about Pecan
A member of the hickory family of plants, pecan’s botanical name is Carya illinoinensis. It is native to Mexico, and the south central and southeastern United States (U.S.). Pecan is an Algonquian Indian word, which in English means “a stone to crack.” Other hickory type nuts were also called pecan. The deciduous tree reaches a height of 131 feet and a width of 75 feet. Ninety-five percent of the world’s pecans come from the U.S., mainly from the state of Georgia.
Pistachio oil is bright green in color, has a strong sweet flavor, a fruity aroma, and a thick consistency. The smoke point is 430 F/ 221 C. Shelf life can be as much as one year if sealed tightly and stored in the refrigerator or a cool place.
Chemical Composition of Pistachio Oil
Pistachio oil consists of good amounts of omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, especially omega 3 and 9 which are linoleic and oleic fatty acids; anti-oxidant phytosterols; protein; vitamins A, B- complex (especially B3 and B6), and E; minerals calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc; and dietary fiber.
Health Benefits of Pistachio Oil
Pistachio oil helps to prevent certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and infections; lowers bad LDL cholesterol and increases the good HDL cholesterol; improves vision and our immune system; protects us against free radical cell damage; is an anti-aging agent, and like the other oils, generally improves our skin.
Uses of Pistachio Oil
Its high smoke point also makes pistachio oil great for deep frying, grilling, and searing especially poultry and seafood. It is very good in vinaigrettes, ice cream, butter, and with pasta, steamed vegetables, and basked goods. Pistachio oil is also used in massage and aromatherapy products, cosmetics, and even candles.
Facts about Pistachio
The pistachio nut tree is botanically called Pistacia vera. It is native to Asia Minor and western Asia, but is also found in the Mediterranean, Europe, and the U.S., mostly California. The deciduous tree can reach a height and spread of 30 feet. Harvesting occurs in about five years. Iran is the world’s leading producer of pistachios, including the oil.
Best Nut Oil for Your Recipes
Which of the Nut oils mentioned is your favorite to use in recipes or cooking in general?
Walnut oil is pale yellow in color, odorless, has a strong nutty flavor, and thin consistency. Its smoke point is 320 F/ 160 C and it has a shelf life of 6 to 12 months. Best if refrigerated or stored in a cool, dark place soon after opening.
Chemical Composition of Walnut Oil
Studies show walnut oil offers a more than ample supply of antioxidants, especially ellagic acid, polyunsaturated omega-3/ alpha-linolenic acid, and minerals copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc. It’s also a great source of vitamins B-complex (1, 2, 3) and E.
Health Benefits of Walnut Oil
The antioxidant ellagic acid in walnut oil helps rid the body of free radicals and prevents certain cancers. The oil also prevents cardiovascular diseases and arthritis; lowers bad LDL cholesterol levels; is anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and an antiseptic; it treats skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis, and regenerates our skin cells; is a natural pain reliever so good for menstrual cramps; and it strengthens and shines hair.
Uses of Walnut Oil
Since Walnut oil’s smoke point is below 350 F, it should not be used for deep frying, pan frying, grilling, or searing. It does add great flavor to poultry, seafood, meats, pasta, and baked goods. Walnut oil can also be found in massage, aromatherapy, and hair care products.
Facts about Walnut
The species of walnut referred to in this article is the common walnut also known as English walnut and botanically Juglans regia. Black walnut oil or oil from Juglans nigra is also popular. Walnuts originated in northern Persia. This deciduous member of the hickory family can reach a height of 70 feet and a width of 40 feet. It was highly-prized by the Romans after being introduced into Europe. Renaissance artists used walnut oil to thin their paints and clean their paint brushes. California grows and produces about 99 percent of U.S. walnut oil. France is the world’s largest producer of walnut oil. China is the world’s leading walnut producer.
Retrieving the Oils from Nuts
To retrieve oils, nuts are usually roasted, grounded, and processed in one of three ways. (1) The mechanical cold pressed method in which temperature is closely regulated. (2) The expeller method, also done by machine but with less temperature control and therefore produces the most beneficial or healthiest nut oils. (3) Chemical solvents, which produce the refined version with the least nutrients and thus is the least beneficial.
Since the unrefined, 100 percent natural nut oils contain the most nutrients, they are more expensive. But for optimum health benefits, they are the ones to purchase. Some such as hazelnut oil may be difficult to find in you local supermarket. You can always shop online.
This article is simply to provide information and does not suggest you use nut oils to treat any health issue. Also note the possibility of nut allergies. Always consult your professional healthcare provider first.
Comparing Cost of Nut Oils
Average Cost of Nut Oils (for cooking)
$14.00 per 16 fluid ounces (473 milliters/ ml )
$9.99 per 16 fluid ounce (473 ml)
$10.00 per 16 fluid ounces (473 ml)
$28.00 (estimated) per 16 fluid ounces (473 ml)
$8.00 per 16 fluid ounces (473 ml)