Health Benefits of Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are a tree nut native to Australia, but now are grown in different areas of the world, including Hawaii and parts of Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Macadamia nuts have a mild, butter-like flavor.

Macadamia nuts can be eaten raw or used in recipes. While high in fat, macadamia nuts contain primarily monounsaturated fat, which is the heart-healthy type of fat that can help reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.   

Health Benefits

Interest in the health benefits of all nuts, including macadamia nuts, continues to grow. While nuts were often avoided in the past because of their high-fat content, research shows that all nuts offer various health benefits, especially when eaten daily in moderation. 

There is increasing evidence that nuts, such as macadamia nuts, can help lower your LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) levels, reduce inflammation associated with heart disease, and improve the health of your arteries. The antioxidants and flavonoids in macadamia nuts also help fight inflammation and reduce cellular damage. They also contain tocotrienols (a form of vitamin E), which may help protect against some types of cancer and brain diseases. 

In addition, macadamia nuts can:

Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

Macadamia nuts may help reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome. This syndrome involves a group of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood sugar, and belly fat. These risk factors increase the chance of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Fortunately, exercising and eating a healthy diet can help. 

Lower Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Research suggests that regularly eating macadamia nuts can help prevent coronary artery disease, a type of cardiovascular disease. Macadamia nuts can lower your total and LDL cholesterol levels. A 2015 review of six studies found that macadamia nuts helped decrease risk factors for cardiovascular disease by reducing cholesterol levels and helping with inflammation and oxidative stress (causes damage to cells.

Reduced Risk of Diabetes

Research suggests that macadamia nuts may help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels, which can also help reduce their risk of metabolic syndrome. A 2014 meta-analysis also found that tree nuts help improve the glycemic control of people with diabetes, which may be due to a combination of fiber, monounsaturated fats, and other nutrients.

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Support Your Digestive Health

The soluble fiber in macadamia nuts may work like a prebiotic to feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut as well as improve your digestive health. Prebiotics may also help reduce inflammation and provide some assistance with irritable bowel syndrome and other similar conditions, although more research is needed.

Help with Weight Loss

The amount of fiber and protein found in macadamia nuts may reduce feelings of hunger and help you feel full, which may support weight loss. A study among healthy Japanese women found that women who ate macadamia nuts lost some weight after three weeks compared to those who ate coconut or butter.

Nutrition

Macadamia nuts are naturally low in sugar and carbohydrates. They also contain various essential nutrients such as dietary fiber and antioxidants that help reduce the risk or manage conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and digestive health.

It’s also an excellent source of:

Nutrients per Serving

One ounce (about 10 to 12 pieces) of macadamia nuts contains:

Portion Sizes

While macadamia nuts are healthy, they’re also high in calories. Overeating these nuts can quickly add up to a lot of calories. For instance, one-half cup of these nuts is about 475 calories, which can be the caloric equivalent of a meal for many people. 

To enjoy the benefits of these nuts without adding too many calories, consider measuring out a serving size (one ounce or 10 to 12 nuts) before eating as a snack. Watching your portion sizes will help you incorporate these nutritious nuts as a part of a healthy diet. 

How to Prepare Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are available at most grocery stores and online. They are available raw or roasted and with or without salt. Read the food label to determine if anything has been added, especially if you restrict your salt intake. You can also find macadamia nut flour, milk, and oil in some stores. 

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To keep your macadamia nuts fresh, store them in an airtight container at room temperature. You can also freeze macadamia nuts to keep them fresh longer. 

One ounce of raw macadamia nuts without added salt and oil make a convenient, portable snack. You can also cook and bake with macadamia nuts. However, they are a tree nut. If you have a tree nut allergy, you’ll want to talk to your doctor before eating them.  

Here are some ways to use macadamia nuts in recipes:

  • Replacing croutons in your salad with a few macadamia nuts 
  • Substitute macadamia nut flour for almond flour at a 1 to 1 ratio
  • Add macadamia nuts to your granola
  • Mix in chopped macadamia nuts to your oatmeal
  • Make pesto and hummus with macadamia nuts
  • Incorporate into baked goods like bread and cookies
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 17, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Agricultural Marketing Resource Center: “Macadamia Nuts.”

Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics: “Review article: prebiotics in the gastrointestinal tract.”

Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “The phytochemical composition and antioxidant actions of tree nuts.”

Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology: “Serum lipid effects of a monounsaturated (palmitoleic) fatty acid-rich diet based on macadamia nuts in healthy, young Japanese women.”

Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: “Prebiotic nut compounds and human microbiota.”

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology: “Macadamia nuts and cardiovascular disease risk factors: a review of clinical trials.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Why nutritionists are crazy about nuts.”

Journal of the American College of Nutrition: “The effect of fiber on satiety and food intake: a systematic review.”

Journal of Nutrition: “Macadamia nut consumption lowers plasma total and LDL cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolemic men.”

Lipids: “Macadamia nut consumption modulates favourably risk factors for coronary artery disease in hypercholesterolemic subjects.”

Mayo Clinic: “Dietary fats: know which types to choose.”

Mayo Clinic: “Nuts and your heart: eating nuts for heart health.”

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “Metabolic syndrome.”

Nutrients: “Benefits of nut consumption on insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk factors: multiple potential mechanisms of action.”

Nutrients: “Nuts and human health outcomes: a systematic review.”

Nutrition Research Reviews: “Tree nut phytochemicals: composition, antioxidant capacity, bioactivity, impact factors. A systematic review of almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.”

PLoS One: “Effect of tree nuts on glycemic control in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled dietary trials.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture: “Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, eight edition.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture: “Nuts, macadamia nuts, raw.”

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