Whose dress is made of sweetgrass?
who wears a golden lei-a?
Who’s promised to be kind and true?
The queen of nuts…
Moving along to my third post honoring the wonderful nut, I admit, Okay… maybe this poetry thing is a little beyond my capabilities. But before I finish with my nutty soliloquy begun in my past two posts, I wanted to sing the praises of Macadamia. Difficulty with rhyming and pentameters isn’t going to hold me back. Because if I’m any judge, Macadamia wins the healthy nut contest hands down. And it’s not just because of her pretty face and fine figure.
In fact, when it comes to the amount of fat on her frame she’s often considered a plus-sized model. Sadly, her reputation has suffered in the past because of this.
But our relationship with fat is changing.
We now know that fats are not created equal. There are good fats and bad fats, and humans’ minds and bodies need a dose of the good ones every day.
Only a few years ago, nutritionists were saying saturated fats were the bad guys and unsaturated fats were the goodies. But as in all things food related, it turns out that balance is key. With the fats family, their influence depends on who and how many are along for the ride.
On the unsaturated side, we have monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The polys include omega-3 and omega-6 fats. And the omega-6 fats, we now know, can do serious damage if omega-3 isn’t there to provide protection.
Omega-9, a mix of poly- and mono-unsaturated fats, also rides shotgun, protecting us from the effects of omega-6 on chronic disease.
Omega-6 is a mean one
It’s a highly unstable character when you’re cooking at high heat. It’s usually rancid on the shelf. And, thanks to public hysteria over animal fat, it’s in absolutely everything nowadays. I’m pointing fingers here at processed and fast foods. Unstopped, omega-6 fats promote inflammation, the cause of many serious illnesses.
When there are too many omega-6 blokes in the neighborhood, omega-3 is overpowered.
Omega-3 holds its own when there are 4 or less omega-6s for each of them to contend with. Some nut oils have ratios up to 20 to 1.
That’s where Macadamia shines. Her talent is her high proportion of omega-3 and -9 fats, which vastly out-number the less popular omega-6. In fact, Macadamia’s ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is an awesome 1 to 1.
Take a peek at the amount of omega-6 in 1/4 cup of nuts:
- Macadamias – 0.5 g
- Cashews – 2.6 g
- Hazelnuts – 2.7 g
- Pistachios – 4.1 g
- Almonds – 4.36 g
- Pecans – 5.8 g
- Brazil nuts – 7.2 g
- Walnuts – 9.5 g
- Pine nuts – 11.6 g
Macadamia has a lot of unsaturated fat and just a little is of the omega-6 variety. That makes her a wonderful contender for a tasty salad oil or for baking at moderate temperatures. With her superior taste and texture, and her stability under heat, she easily wins first place in the nutty cuisine category.
And when we compare nut oils to other vegetable oils, the results are even more astounding. Olive oil, still considered a healthy choice, has a ratio of 14 omega-6 fats to 1 of omega-3. But that’s a wonderful showing compared with corn and palm oils, the darlings of the food industry. This pair has 50 times as much omega-6 as omega-3 fats. Grapeseed oil tops them all with a whopping 678 times as much omega-6 as omega-3. Omega-3 hasn’t a chance against those odds. And scientists are finding how badly our health suffers. We need both, but the ratio of 4 to 1 is optimal. Here’s a list of diseases linked with a top-heavy consumption of omega-6 fats.
- cardiovascular disease
- type 2 diabetes
- metabolic syndrome
- irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease
- macular degeneration
- rheumatoid arthritis
- psychiatric disorders
- autoimmune diseases
Of course, there’s a lot more to nut nutrition than the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. But it’s an important factor. That makes the macadamia nut and its oils a valuable addition to our pantry.
It’s best to store your nuts and nut oils in the fridge for a longer shelf-life. Buy nut oils in smaller quantities and choose oils sold in dark bottles. Each nut oil has its own special qualities imparted by its unique components. Enjoy them all in a balanced diet.
Next week I have a treat featuring macadamia nuts you can feast on without breaking your New Year’s resolutions. It’s a yogurt and apple tea-cake, packed with nutrition and flavor. Stay tuned!
- Macadamia treats us to her tea cake Macadamia nuts offer a treasure chest of healthy, stable fats for your dining pleasure. At just under 200 calories a serving, this tea cake, resembling the British scone, can be had with less than 5 grams sugar. And it’s yummy!