While almonds may be America’s most popular nut, no one can deny the delicious appeal of macadamia nuts. This is a good thing, because just like almonds, macadamia nuts pack a potent punch of nutrition.
Macadamia nuts are nutrient-filled powerhouses that come from the macadamia tree. They contain several 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 impressive health benefits.
So are macadamia nuts good for you? Let’s dive in and take a closer look at this nutritious nut.
What Are Macadamia Nuts?
Macadamias are contained with a hard-seed coat that is enclosed in a green husk, which later splits open as the nut matures. Although most people believe that the macadamia nut comes from Hawaii, it is actually native to Australia.
The macadamia nut has a creamy white kernel made up of 65–75 percent oil and 6-8 percent sugar. Upon roasting, it becomes more consistent in both color and texture. However, the appearance can vary quite a bit between different varieties; while some seed coats are smooth, others are more rough and pebbled.
In other parts of the world, macadamias are also commonly known as the Australian nut and the Queensland nut. Some also refer to them as Manua Loa, which is one of the most popular brands of macadamia nut on the market. Interestingly enough, Mauna Loa is actually the largest volcano on earth, and the brand Manua Loa was one of the first plantations of macadamias developed in Hawaii.
Although several species are poisonous, there are two edible types. One is the smooth-shelled macadamia, or Macadamia integrifolia, and the other is the rough-shelled macadamia, also known as Macdamia tetraphylla.
While the macadamia nut may be higher in fat and contain more calories, it’s lower in omega-6s than some other nuts. It also packs an impressive amount of nutrients, including manganese, thiamine and copper. Plus, over half of the carbs in macadamia nuts are made up of dietary fiber, making them a great choice for a heart-healthy diet.
One ounce of raw macadamia nuts contains about:
- 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)
1. Good for the Heart
Macadamia nuts contain healthy fats that can help keep the arteries in good condition. Because they’re rich in monounsaturated fat, they can also help reduce cholesterol levels and lower triglycerides, both of which are risk factors for coronary heart disease.
In a study conducted by the Pennsylvania State University Department of Nutritional Sciences, subjects were given one serving of macadamia nuts per day and compared to a control group. Over the course of the the study, those who consumed macadamia nuts experienced reduced cholesterol levels and improved markers of heart health.
According to the American Heart Association, enjoying a few servings of macadamia nuts and other nuts as part of a balanced diet can be beneficial for heart health. To maximize the potential benefits of macadamia nuts, however, it’s best to stick to one serving of about 1.5 ounces of whole nuts at a time.
2. Fight Disease
The macadamia contains flavonoids that help prevent cell damage by protecting cells from environmental toxins. These phenomenal flavonoids also act as antioxidants, which help fight free radical damage and protect against chronic disease.
In a study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers reported that “nut consumption is inversely associated with the incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer.” This is attributed to their nutrient density as well as the numerous phytonutrients that they contain.
The phenolic acids, flavonoids and stilbenes help provide useful antioxidants that can fight diseases like cancer. For this reason, nuts—including macadamias—are often considered one of the top cancer-fighting foods that you can consume.
Plus, some evidence also shows that macadamia nuts could help reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Some of these conditions include increased blood pressure, blood sugar, excess belly fat and high cholesterol levels.
3. Aid in Weight Loss
Macadamias contain a nice balance of nutrients and monounsaturated fats to help keep you feeling full between meals. In fact, the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats found in macadamia nuts can actually help curb cravings and reduce your appetite. Not only that, but macadamias contain palmitoleic acid, which helps boost fat-burning to prevent weight gain.
In addition, macadamia nuts contain dietary fibers that can support satiety and stabilize blood sugar levels, as well as complex carbohydrates like lignans, hemicellulose, amylopectins, mucilage, gums and insoluble cellulose.
4. Support the Gut
Rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, the macadamia helps you feel full while removing toxins from the body and promoting healthy digestion. As a copper-rich food, the macadamia nut also supports the utilization of iron and aids in proper enzymatic reactions.
Plus, it’s high in fiber, which fosters the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut to boost digestive health and immune function.
5. Strengthen Bones
Macadamia nuts are plentiful in phosphorus, manganese and magnesium, all of which aid in bone and teeth mineralization and improve the transportation and absorption of nutrients. In fact, calcium aids in the formation of teeth and bones while manganese helps the body deposit new bone tissue where needed so the bones stay healthy and strong as you get older.
Meanwhile, magnesium impacts the secretion of certain hormones that impact bone formation while also supporting skeletal integrity.
6. Keep the Brain and Nervous System on Point
The copper, thiamine, magnesium and manganese found in macadamia nuts aid in the production of neurotransmitters, which are important chemicals that send signals to the brain. Macadamia nuts are also high in oleic acid and palmitoleic acid, both of which contribute to healthy brain function.
In addition, macadamias contain omega-9 fatty acids, which are a type of fatty acid thought to help improve mood, enhance improve memory and stave off neurological diseases. For instance, one animal model published in Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior showed that erucic acid, which is a type of omega-9 fatty acid, could be therapeutic against cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Reduce Chronic Inflammation and Arthritis Symptoms
A study published in Pharmacognosy Magazine concluded that the macadamia could be beneficial for treating rheumatoid arthritis. 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.” For this reason, the macadamia nut could be a nice addition to any arthritis diet treatment plan.
Macadamia nuts are also a good source of omega-6 fatty acids. Although omega-6 fatty acids can provide some nutritional benefits, many of us get more than enough in our diets. When we consume too many omega-6 fatty acids, it can contribute to chronic inflammation in the body, which is believed to be at the root of diseases such as arthritis, cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Most nuts are much higher in omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s, but macadamia nuts are a bit lower in omega-6s. That doesn’t mean you should overdo it, but enjoying this healthy nut in moderation can help bump up your intake of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals to reduce inflammation.
- Growing near streams and river banks in the rain forests, Macadamia integrifolia is native to southeastern Queensland, while M. tetraphylla is native to both Queensland and 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 and was 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.
- Macadamias prefer a mild, frost-free climate with plenty rain, similar to how coffee beans grow best.
How to Store and Roast
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 to help optimize the benefits of macadamia nuts and extend their shelf-life. Like other cooking oils, macadamia nut oil should also be stored in a cool, dark place to keep it from going rancid.
If you prefer roasted macadamia nuts, here is how you can try making them at home:
- 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.
There are many ways you can incorporate this delicious ingredient in your diet to take advantage of the many benefits of macadamia nuts. You can, of course, eat them on their own, but they also make great additions to numerous recipes, including baked goods, breakfast foods and main courses alike.
Here are a few other recipes to try:
Risks and Allergy Concerns
In moderation, macadamia nuts are, no doubt, a delicious and healthy choice to a well-rounded diet. However, despite the many benefits of macadamia nuts, it’s important to be mindful of your serving size. Because they are relatively high in macadamia nuts calories and fat, it’s best to stick to one serving at a time to help prevent weight gain.
Additionally, besides checking the macadamia nuts price tag before you purchase, be sure to also keep an eye on the ingredients label. This is because many nuts have been coated with preservatives, oils and tons of salt, all of which can diminish the potential macadamia nuts health benefits.
They’re also high in phosphorus, which is important to anyone who may be dealing with kidney issues. If you have kidney problems, consult with your doctor or dietitian before adding macadamias to your diet to prevent any negative side effects.
It’s also important to be mindful of nut allergies, which are common. If you have an allergy to tree nuts, you should avoid macadamias and other types of nuts. Furthermore, if you experience any symptoms of a food allergy after consumption, discontinue use immediately and talk to your doctor.
Many people also wonder: are macadamia nuts for dogs safe? According to the American Kennel Club, macadamia nuts are actually considered toxic for dogs and can cause serious symptoms such as weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and tremors. If your dog has consumed macadamia nuts, you should call your veterinarian or consult with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center as soon as possible.
- Are macadamia nuts healthy? The macadamia nuts nutrition profile contains 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 help prevent heart disease, neutralize harmful free radicals, 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 to help extend the shelf-life.
- Try roasting them at home or adding them to recipes like baked goods, desserts, breakfast foods and more.