Marula oil is extracted from the kernels (nuts) of the fruits of the Marula trees (Sclerocarya birrea), from the family Anacardiaceae. There are two types of marula oil, the oil extracted from the seeds and the oil extracted from the nut's hard shell. Marula oil is traditionally used in cosmetics, in food as a cooking oil, and as a meat preservative and to treat leather.
Monounsaturated fatty acids:
- Oleic acid (70–78%)
The Tsonga people of South Africa and Mozambique have used the oil as a moisturising body lotion for women and also as a massage oil for babies. In the past, Namibian women used marula oil rather than water to clean themselves.
Marula oil is used in diets, especially for people of the Inhambane Province in Mozambique, Owambo in north central Namibia, Northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and the Zvishavane district of Zimbabwe. Furthermore, marula plays an important role in the diet of Bushmen and Bantus. The Venda use the oil from the kernels to preserve meat, which enables it to last up to a year. Marula oil is considered a delicacy by local people, and is added to many traditional and modern recipes.
- Hore, D. (2004). Formulation of cosmetic skin lotions using Adansonia digitata and Sclerocarya birrea oil from Zimbabwe. University of Zimbabwe, Harare.
- Mariod; Matthaus, Bertrand; Eichner, K.; et al. (2004). "Fatty acid, tocopherol and sterol composition as well as oxidative stability of three unusual Sudanese oils". Journal of Food Lipids. 11 (3): 179–189. doi:10.1111/j.1745-4522.2004.01131.x.
- Hall, J.; et al. (2002). Sclerocarya birrea: a monograph. Publication Number 19. School of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor.
- Botelle, A (2001). A History of Marula Use in North-central Namibia. Windhoek, Namibia: Eudofano Women’s Co-operative Ltd and CRIAA SA-DC.
- Engelter & Wehmeyer; Wehmeyer, A.S. (1970). "Fatty acid composition of oils of some edible seeds of wild plants". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 18: 25–26. doi:10.1021/jf60167a025.
- Shackleton, S.E.; et al. (2002). A summary of knowledge on Sclerocarya birrea with emphasis on its importance as a NTFP in South and Southern Africa. Part 1.