Among the healthiest nuts in the world, macadamia taste great. They have a subtle, sweet and buttery flavor with a creamy texture that you will enjoy while giving your body a healthy boost.
What are Macadamia Nuts?
Macadamia trees are originally native to Australia but they are now cultivated in many other parts of the world including Hawaii, Costa Rica, Brazil and New Zealand.
Like many other types of nut, macadamia are a rich source of important nutrients and other beneficial compounds. They contain compounds and nutrients that have been linked with a variety of health benefits including heart health, digestive health, improvements in blood sugar and weight control benefits.
The macadamia tree from which we get the nuts grow to a height of about 15 meters. The tree usually starts producing its fruit at around seven years after its plantation.
There are actually seven wild species of macadamia but only two are actually edible and cultivated for their nuts. A smooth-shelled nut is produced by Macadamia integrifolia while Macadamia tetraphylla produces a nut with a rough shell.
Each summer, these trees bear long chains of attractive cream-colored flowers. These will then develop into round fruits with a tough shell having a conical tip.
Depending on the species, these shells will have a smooth or rough surface. Each fruit consists of a husk between half an inch and an inch in diameter. These husks envelop a single edible kernel with a sweet taste and a creamy texture.
Facts about Macadamia
- Macadamia trees and nuts are originally native to Australia.
- They were named after the Scottish born chemist and physician – John Macadam.
- In around 1881, Macadamia trees were introduced to Hawaii where they were originally used as ornamental trees.
- Macadamia were not cultivated commercially in Hawaii until 1921 but now the majority of the macadamia nuts sold commercially are grown in Hawaii.
- Macadamia nuts do not get picked off the trees. Instead they are allowed to ripen fully before falling to the ground and being harvested.
- Macadamia are b a tough ‘nut to crack’ -breaking the shell takes around 300 pounds a square inch making it the hardest of all the nut shells.
- The USA is the world’s largest consumer of macadamia nuts with over 50% of all macadamia being bought there.
- Macadamia Nut Day is celebrated annually on September the 4th.
- Macadamia nuts are a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids. They have a number of potential health benefits and are linked to a reduction in cholesterol levels.
- Like most nuts, macadamia are high in nutrients and protein.
- They are a good option for vegetarians and vegans who need to boost their intake of protein.
Nutritional Content of Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are relatively high in calories but they are also rich in vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. A one ounce serving (28 grams) of macadamia nuts contains the following :
- 204 calories
- 23 grams of fat
- 2 grams of protein
- 4 grams of carbohydrates
- 1 gram of sugar
- 3 grams of fiber
- Manganese – 58% of the recommended daily value. (DV)
- Thiamine – 22% DV
- Copper – 11% DV
- Magnesium : 9% DV
- Iron – 6% DV
- Vitamin B6 – 5% DV
Health Benefits of Macadamia Nuts
Despite tasting great and being high in calories, macadamia nuts are an excellent choice when eaten as part of a healthy diet. They come with a range of potential health benefits and make a great alternative to your unhealthy snack time treats.
Rich in Monounsaturated Fats
Not all types of fat are bad for you and in fact some are actually very good for your health. Macadamia nuts are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats.
Studies suggest that this type of fat can can be good for your heart by reducing LDL and total cholesterol levels. One study, published in 2008, compared a diet rich in macadamia nuts with an average American diet, The researchers found that people eating a diet rich in macadamia had lower levels of LDL and total cholesterol.
They concluded that macadamia nuts could be included in a healthy dietary plan to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease because of their positive impact on blood lipids and cholesterol. (1)
Most nuts are an excellent source of healthy antioxidants and macadamia are no exception. Antioxidants are crucial to good health. They help to neutralize the damaging effects of the free radicals, that contribute to numerous diseases including heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Macadamia nuts are very high in antioxidant flavonoids. In fact, of all the tree nuts, they contain among the highest level of flavonoids as well as other phytochemicals like carotenoids and phenolic acids.
These antioxidants help fight inflammation and can also help to lower cholesterol and can help protect the body against various diseases and illnesses. (2)
Mmacadamia nuts are also an excellent source of antioxidant tocotrienols which are a type of vitamin E. These antioxidants have also been linked with a reduction in cholesterol levels and might even protect us against brain disease and cancer. (3)
In summary, macadamia nuts are full of healthy antioxidants that can protect the body against disease and cellular damage.
Nothing is more important than a healthy heart and according to a number of studies, eating macadamia nuts might also be very good for your cardiovascular health.
First of all, a number of different studies indicate that eating between 8 and 42 grams of macadamia nuts each day can reduce both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels by as much as 10%. (4) (5)
In addition, one small-scale study looked at the effects of a macadamia-rich diet in people with pre-existing high cholesterol. The researchers found that those eating a diet rich in these nuts experienced cholesterol reductions comparable with people eating the American Heart Association’s recommended low-fat, heart healthy diet. (6)
Not only do macadamia nuts appear to reduce cholesterol levels, there is also evidence that they help reduce inflammation, which is another risk factor in heart disease. One study found that a diet consisting of between 42 and 84 grams of macadamia each day helped significantly reduce certain inflammatory markers like leukotriene. (7)
Experts believe that the heart-health benefits of macadamia are related to the high levels of monounsaturated fats that the nuts contain. This type of fat has been consistently linked to improved heart health and reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. (8) (9)
In summary, adding a few servings of macadamia nuts to your daily diet can help to reduce certain risk factors linked to heart disease including high cholesterol levels and inflammation.
Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes
Macadamia nuts are relatively low in carbohydrates and sugars and also have a decent amount of dietary fiber. This makes them a suitable snack for diabetics because they are not likely to raise blood sugar levels.
Metabolic syndrome is the term given to various risk factors such as high cholesterol high blood glucose and obesity that can increase the risk of a person developing heart disease, stroke or diabetes. Research suggests that macadamia nuts could protect against metabolic syndrome as well as type 2 diabetes.
One review, published in 2014, found a link between diets that were rich in various tree nuts including macadamia nuts, and a reduction in fasting blood glucose levels.
The review looked at the effects of various diets including those where the participants consumed between 28 and 84 grams of tree nuts each day. The researchers found that people who consumed tree nuts as part of their diet experienced significant improvements in hemoglobin A1c levels, which is a marker for blood sugar control. (10)
Studies have also found that diets containing high amounts of monounsaturated fat might help reduce the risk factors of metabolic syndrome, particularly in those with type 2 diabetes. (11)
A diet high in nuts has also been linked to lower levels of blood sugar as well as lower body weight in those with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. (12) (13)
To sum up, consuming a diet rich in tree nuts like macadamia can help reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome as well as helping you keep blood sugar levels in check.
Digestive Health Benefits
Macadamia nuts are a good source of soluble fiber which can boost your overall digestive health. Getting plenty of dietary fiber into your system can help prevent a variety of common digestive complaints including constipation, indigestion, bloating and diarrhea.
The soluble fiber found in macadamia nuts also acts as a type of prebiotic, which means it can help feed the beneficial bacteria present in the gut. (14)
This beneficial bacteria helps to produce short chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate and propionate. These compounds are known to help reduce inflammation and can help protect against a range of inflammatory bowel conditions including IBS, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. (15)
There is also some evidence that these short chain fatty acids can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes or obesity. (16) (17)
They might well be high in calories but there is some evidence that macadamia nuts can help keep weight under control and even help you to lose a few unwanted pounds.
This can be explained in part by the relatively high fiber and protein content of these nuts. Both fiber and protein are known to help satiate the appetite and keep hunger pangs in check. By helping you feel more full, snacking on macadamia nuts means you are less likely to snack on unhealthy foods during the day. (18)
Research also indicates that some of the fats contained in nuts like macadamia remain in the fibrous walls of the nut during digestion. This means that eating macadamia nuts may not provide as many calories as was previously believed. (19)
There is also some scientific research into the effects of macadamia nuts on weight loss. One Japanese study, published in 2004, involved 71 women and was carried out over 3 weeks. One group of women was given bread each day along with 10 grams of macadamia nuts. the other two groups were given bread with either butter or coconut.
The women in the group that ate macadamia nuts lost an average of 0.9 pounds during the study while the other two groups did not lose any weight at all. (20)
The monounsaturated fats like palmitoleic acid contained in macadamia may also protect the body against weight gain.
One animal study found that obese mice given a diet rich in macadamia oil experienced significant reductions in fat cell size compared to the mice in the control group. (21) Whether or not eating macadamia nuts would have the same effects on humans remains unclear.
There is a growing body of research which indicates macadamia nuts might confer protection against cancer. While the research is at a very early stage, the signs so far are positive.
We have already mentioned that macadamia nuts are full of antioxidant flavonoids as well as other plant-based antioxidants like tocotrienols. According to studies done to date, these compounds may offer anticancer properties. (22) (23)
More research in the future is necessary to clarify whether macadamia nuts do indeed have anticancer effects.
The tocotrienols found in macadamia nuts may also help protect the brain’s cells from degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. (24)
However, it is important to point out that the only studies done to date have been conducted in the laboratory or on animals.
How to Eat Macadamia Nuts
You can easily find macadamia nuts at most supermarkets but you can also order them online. They are extremely versatile nuts with a delicious flavor and a smooth texture. Incorporating them into your diet is very easy indeed.
Raw macadamia are the healthiest type of macadamia nuts to eat. Dry-roasted macadamia nuts are a decent alternative but you should steer clear of nuts that have been roasted in oil because they contain a lot of unhealthy added fats.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy macadamia nuts. Feel free to snack on them whole or to grind them up and sprinkle them into your soups or over your salads and other dishes.
Anybody that enjoys peanut butter will likely also enjoy macadamia butter. You can use it in exactly the same way as you would use peanut butter. Spread it om top of your toast and bread or add it to your yogurt and oatmeal.
Macadamia nuts can also be soaked then ground up into a paste that you can use as a base for many deserts or to make a dairy-free milk or cheese.
Store your macadamia nuts in the refrigerator or at normal room temperature. As long as you store them in an airtight container, they are good for up to four or five months or for up to a year if stored in the fridge.
Like anything else, you should be careful not to overindulge. Macadamia nuts are high in calories so try not to eat more than one or two servings each day.
Frequently Asked Questions
How good are macadamia nuts for you?
All the evidence suggests that macadamia nuts are among the healthiest of all tree nuts. they are an excellent source of important nutrients and contain healthy monounsaturated fats. Research suggests they can help reduce cholesterol levels while also helping to keep blood sugar levels and weight under control. They are also a great source of flavonoids and other antioxidants that can help prevent disease.
Why macadamia nuts are so expensive?
Macadamia nuts are expensive compared to other types of tree nut. the main reason for this is the length of time it takes for the macadamia tree to bear its fruit. They are also harvested by hand after falling from the tree meaning that labor costs are factored in.
Are macadamia nuts inflammatory?
Research has found that macadamia nuts reduce the level of certain inflammatory markers. They can help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and cardiovascular system.
Where are macadamia nuts grown?
Macadamia nuts are native to Australia but are cultivated in various other countries including New Zealand, Brazil and Costa Rica. These days, the majority of macadamia nuts are grown in Hawaii.
Macadamia nuts are a delicious treat that can be enjoyed in a number of different ways. Although they are high in calories, there is evidence that they can actually contribute to weight loss probably as a result of their high protein and soluble fiber content.
Studies suggest that a diet rich in macadamia nuts can reduce cholesterol levels and there is also evidence that macadamia nuts can reduce the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
If you are looking for a healthy and delicious snack that will not pile on the pounds, give macadamia nuts a go.