While almonds may be America’s most popular nut, no one can deny the delicious appeal of macadamia nuts. (1) This is a good thing, because just like almonds nutrition, macadamia nutrition packs a potent punch.
Macadamia nuts are amazing little nutrient-filled powerhouses that come from the macadamia tree. They contain some important essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, iron, B vitamins, manganese and folate, as well as protein, healthy fats and antioxidants. These remarkable nutrients are what give these incredible nuts their plentiful benefits. What benefits? I’m glad you asked.
Benefits of Macadamia Nuts
1. Good for the Heart
Macadamia nuts contain healthy fats that can help keep the arteries in good heart-health condition. Because they’re rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, they help reduce cholesterol levels and lower triglycerides, a type of body fat. When we lower body fat, we can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
In a study conducted by the Pennsylvania State University Department of Nutritional Sciences and published in the Journal of Nutrition, some subjects were randomly given macadamia nuts and compared to those who were fed a standard American diet. Over the course of the the study, those who consumed macadamia nuts saw reduced cholesterol levels and overall healthier heart markers. Because macadamia nuts are a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, they help reduce the risks of lipid/lipoprotein cardiovascular disease risk factors. (2)
2. Fight Disease
The macadamia contains flavonoids that help to prevent cell damage by protecting cells from environmental toxins. Once these phenomenal flavonoids are in the body, they convert into antioxidants, which is where the power comes into play. Antioxidants have this great job of finding the free radicals in our bodies and destroying them. This is how we protect our bodies from disease.
Study observations from the Antioxidants Research Lab at Tuft’s University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging “suggest nut consumption is inversely associated with the incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer.” In addition to being nutrient-dense, the numerous phytonutrients they contain provide positive health benefits. The phenolic acids, flavonoids and stilbenes help provide useful antioxidants that can fight diseases like cancer. (3) That’s why nuts — including macadamia — are some of the best cancer-fighting foods you can consume.
3. Aid in Weight Loss
The good fat content can actually help curb your appetite. Not only that, but macadamias contain palmitoleic acid. Palmitoleic acid has the ability to increase fat metabolism, which in turn reduces fat storage. Macadamias contain a nice balance of nutrients and fats, helping you feel satisfied with only a few of them.
In addition, macadamia nuts contain beneficial dietary fibers that can help you achieve satiety and contain complex carbohydrates like lignans, hemicellulose, amylopectins, mucilage, gums and insoluble cellulose that assist with digestive problems while reducing those nagging hunger pangs. There’s even evidence that nuts like macadamia may have positive effects on preventing metabolic syndrome, though more research is needed to validate this belief. (4)
4. Support the Gut
Containing both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, the macadamia helps you feel full while removing toxins from the body and assisting in good digestion. As a copper-rich food, the macadamia nut helps with the efficient utilization of iron and aids in proper enzymatic reactions. (5)
5. Strengthen Bones
Macadamia nuts are plentiful in phosphorus, manganese and magnesium, all of which aid in bone and teeth mineralization and the transportation and absorption of nutrients.
We know that calcium helps in the formation of teeth and bones, while manganese helps the body deposit new bone tissue where needed so the bones remain strong as you get older. Another important fact is that kidney disease affects the body’s ability to absorb calcium and manganese, which can lead to bone disease. The manganese found in macadamia nuts can really help keep your bones strong and fight kidney disease at the same time. (6)
6. Keep the Brain and Nervous System on Point
The copper, vitamin B1, magnesium and manganese found in macadamia nuts help make healthy neurotransmitters, which are those important chemicals that our brain cells need to send signals to the brain. Macadamia nuts are also high in oleic acid, which aids in brain health, and they contain palmitoleic acid, which helps protect nerve cells in the brain — therefore contributing to healthy brain function. (7)
In addition, macadamias contain omega-9, and as we know, omega-9 benefits the brain in many ways. For starters, it can help improve mood, an obvious function of the brain. In addition, it can help improve memory and stave off neurological diseases. For instance, memory performance in normal naïve mice was tested in a study published inPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, showing that erucic acid may be a therapeutic agent for diseases associated with cognitive deficits, such as Alzheimer’s disease. (8) This means you can add memory enhancement and improved cognitive function to the list of omega-9 benefits — and the benefits of macadamia nuts.
7. Reduce Chronic Inflammation and Arthritis Symptoms
The omega-6 fatty acids can provide some nutritional benefits, but most consume way too much of it. When we have too many omega-6 fatty acids, it can cause and increase chronic inflammation in the body. That’s problematic because we know inflammation is at the root of most diseases, such as arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more.
A study published in Pharmacognosy Magazine sought to test the ability of a panel of Australian plants, including the macadamia, with a history of treating rheumatoid arthritis, concluding that it was beneficial. Researchers noted that the “low toxicity of these extracts and their inhibitory bioactivity against Proteus spp. indicate their potential in blocking the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.” (9) That means the macadamia is a nice addition to any arthritis diet treatment plan.
Most nuts have ways more omega-6s than omega-3s, but the macadamia nuts are lower in omega-6s. That doesn’t mean you should overdo it, but by watching your intake of omega-6 fatty acids and having a few macadamia nuts each week, you can get added protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals in your diet without adding too much inflammation-causing omega-6s. To give you an idea of the differences, pecans contain 3.7 grams of omega-6 per 100 grams, almonds 3.4 grams and cashews 2.2 grams compared to macadamia coming in at 0.36 gram.
Macadamia Nuts Nutrition
While the macadamia nut may be higher in fat and contain more calories, it’s lower in omega-6s, as previously noted, than some other nuts. It also packs an impressive amount of nutrients, in particular coming in at a whopping 58 percent of the recommended daily value of manganese in one little serving.
One ounce of raw macadamia nuts contains about: (10)
- 203 calories
- 4 grams carbohydrates
- 2.2 grams protein
- 21.4 grams fat
- 2.4 grams fiber
- 1.2 milligrams manganese (58 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligram thiamine (23 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligram copper (11 percent DV)
- 36.7 milligrams magnesium (9 percent DV)
- 1 milligram iron (6 percent DV)
- 53.1 milligrams phosphorus (5 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (4 percent DV)
Origin and History of Macadamia Nuts
Macadamias are contained with a hard-seed coat that’s enclosed in a green husk. It later splits open as the nut matures. While the macadamia is probably most known as coming from Hawaii, did you know that two seedlings were planted in the 1800s on the Berkeley campus of the University of California that are still standing today? It’s true! However, the macadamia is actually native to Australia. (11)
The macadamia nut has a creamy white kernel made up of 65 percent to 75 percent oil and 6 percent to 8 percent sugar. Upon roasting, it becomes more consistent in both color and texture. Some seed coats are smooth, and some are more rough and pebbled. At the same time, some are better suited to the home garden while others are more suited for commercial production.
You may have heard of the macadamia also called mauna loa. Mauna Loa is actually the largest volcano on earth located in Hawaii, and Mauna Loa, now a brand name, became one of the first plantations of macadamias that was developed in Hawaii. (12)
In addition to being called macadamia, these nuts are also commonly known as the Australian nut and the Queensland nut. Many species are poisonous — however, there are two edible species. One is the smooth-shelled macadamia or macadamia integrifolia, and the other is the rough-shelled macadamia or M. tetraphylla.
Growing near streams and river banks in the rain forests, macadamia integrifolia is native to southeastern Queensland, while M. tetraphylla is native to southeastern Queensland as well as northeastern New South Wales. At the point where the two species meet, there are types that appear to be natural hybrids.
The macadamia made its way to Hawaii around 1881 used mainly as an ornament and for reforestation. In 1948, the Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station named and introduced several promising selections, leading to the modern macadamia industry that Hawaii is famous for. Hawaii brought the macadamia tree to California during the mid 1900s. Australia, South Africa and Central America depend on the value of the macadamia as well. Macadamias prefer a mild, frost-free climate with plenty rain, similar to how coffee beans grow best.
How to Store and Roast Macadamia Nuts
Make sure to store your macadamias in a cool place, such as the refrigerator or pantry. However, it’s important to make sure they don’t contain moisture.
If you prefer them roasted, here is what you need to do:
- Preheat your oven to 225–250 degrees F.
- Place the nut meats (the actual edible part of the nuts, not the casings) on a cookie sheet. It’s best to roast pieces that are similar in size for consistency.
- Simply roast for about 10 minutes, keeping an eye on them since oven temperatures can vary.
- Remove from the oven as soon as they begin to turn slightly brown.
- Allow them to cool.
- Store in a tightly sealed container.
Macadamia Nut Recipes
There are many ways you can incorporate macadamia nuts in your diet. You can, of course, eat them on their own, but they also make great additions to many recipes. Here’s one to get you started:
Dairy-Free Blueberry Macadamia Cheesecake
- 1 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup pitted Medjool dates
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup raw dried coconut
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups macadamia nuts
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup or coconut nectar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup frozen organic blueberries
- In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine the almonds, dates, vanilla, salt and coconut to the texture you desire. For a creamier texture, blend more.
Lightly toast the dried coconut on the stove. Watch carefully as it can burn. Just toast it until you see a golden-brown color and turn off the heat.
- Sprinkle the bottom of a springform pan with 1 tablespoon of the dried coconut, then press the mixture firmly and evenly into the base.
- Using a high-powered blender, add the filling ingredients (save a few blueberries for garnish) and blend until fully emulsified. Spoon the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Once it’s filled to the top of the pan, allow it to settle into a flat surface.
- Place in the refrigerator for 6–8 hours until it sets.
- Top with the extra blueberries and serve.
Here are a couple more recipes to try:
Macadamia Nuts Precautions
Macadamia nuts are, no doubt, a delicious, healthy choice, but be mindful of portions. Keep an eye on the ingredients when you purchase them since a lot of nuts have been coated with preservatives, oils and tons of salt. They’re also high in phosphorus, which is important to anyone who may be dealing with kidney issues.
In addition, be mindful of nut allergies, which are common. If you have a nut allergy, you should avoid macadamias.
Final Thoughts on Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts contain some important essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, iron, B vitamins, manganese and folate, as well as protein, healthy fats and antioxidants.
These nuts have been shown to be good for the heart, fight disease as high-antioxidant foods, help you lose weight, aid gut health, strengthen bones, keep the brain and nervous system on point, reduce chronic inflammation, and treat arthritis.
Make sure to store your macadamias in a cool place, such as the refrigerator or pantry. However, it’s important to make sure they don’t contain moisture. You can also roast your own.
If you’re looking for a healthy, nutritious, filling snack, look no further.
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