What Are Macadamia Nuts?
Macadamia nuts are a tree nut native to Australia but are now 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 mostly contain monounsaturated fats, a heart-healthy type of fat that can help reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Health Benefits of Macadamia Nuts
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 the 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 (“good”) 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.
Macadamia nuts contain the highest percentage of monounsaturated fats of any known food source. They also have low levels of polyunsaturated and saturated fats. Evidence shows that the nutrients in macadamia nuts may help lower blood sugar. Monounsaturated fats provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that add to the growth and health of cells. There is evidence that the monounsaturated fats in macadamia nuts may help your body get rid of excess cholesterol more efficiently.
Lower your risk of cardiovascular disease
Research suggests that eating macadamia nuts regularly can help prevent coronary artery disease, a type of cardiovascular disease. Macadamia nuts can lower your total and LDL cholesterol levels. One review of six studies found that macadamia nuts helped decrease the risk factors for cardiovascular disease by reducing cholesterol levels and helping with inflammation and oxidative stress (which causes damage to cells).
Reduce the 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 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.
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 help 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 3 weeks compared to those who ate coconut or butter.
Improve bone health
Macadamia nuts are excellent sources of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These minerals are important for maintaining bone health. Phosphorus, another mineral present in high levels in macadamia nuts, is instrumental in restoring vital minerals to bones and teeth.
Boost skin health
Macadamia nuts also contain compounds such as tocotrienols (a form of vitamin E) and squalene (an oil found in our bodies, plants, and animals), which have skin-protecting benefits. Tocotrienols are thought to reduce damage to the skin that comes with aging. The squalene found in cosmetics increases the amount of moisture in your skin. Research has indicated that the monounsaturated fatty acids found in macadamia nuts may help minimize wrinkles caused by sun exposure, improve skin hydration, and play a role in skin healing.
Macadamia Nut 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 such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and digestive health.
They're also an excellent source of:
Nutrients per serving
One ounce (about 10-12 pieces) of macadamia nuts contains:
- Calories: 204
- Protein: 2.24 grams
- Fat: 21.5 grams
- Carbohydrates: 3.9 grams
- Fiber: 2.44 grams
- Sodium: 1.42 milligrams
- Sugar: 1.3 grams
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, half a 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 macadamia nuts without adding too many calories, consider measuring out a serving size (one ounce or 10-12 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 Eat 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.
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 serves as a convenient, portable snack. You can also cook and bake with macadamia nuts.
Here are some ways you can use macadamia nuts in recipes:
- Replacing croutons in your salad with a few macadamia nuts
- Substitute macadamia nut flour for almond flour in a 1:1 ratio
- Add macadamia nuts to your granola
- Add chopped macadamia nuts to your oatmeal
- Make pesto and hummus with macadamia nuts
- Incorporate macadamia nuts into baked goods such as bread and cookies
Macadamia Nut Allergy
Macadamias are a type of tree nut. If you have a tree nut allergy, you’ll want to talk to your doctor before eating them. Just because you're allergic to one type of tree nut doesn't mean you'll have allergies to all of them. Keep track of any symptoms and when they occur after eating tree nuts so that you'll be able to tell your doctor later. Look for symptoms such as:
- Hives or itchy skin
- Lip swelling
- Itchy throat and mouth, or a tightened throat
- Runny nose
- Stomach cramps or nausea
Tree nuts can commonly cause a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). If you're severely allergic to tree nuts, always carry an EpiPen with you.
Research shows that macadamia nuts can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and heart disease. Like other nuts, macadamia nuts are now considered part of a heart-healthy diet. The antioxidants and minerals in macadamia nuts contribute to bone and skin health. As with other tree nuts, some people may be highly allergic to macadamia nuts. If you are allergic to tree nuts, check with your doctor before eating them.
Macadamia Nuts FAQs
Who should not eat macadamia nuts?
Macadamia nuts are a healthy source of dietary fat. However, they are highly caloric, and you should eat them in moderation if you are managing your weight. If you have an allergy to one or more tree nuts, it's best to be tested or talk with your doctor before eating them.
What are the benefits of macadamia nuts?
Macadamia nuts have been shown to lower cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease. They are considered part of a heart-healthy diet.
Why are macadamia nuts so expensive?
Macadamia nuts are native to Australia's subtropical rainforests. Due to their popularity around the world, macadamias are also now grown in Kenya, Vietnam, Brazil, and Hawaii, among other places. Their high cost is due to the way macadamia nuts are produced, usually on small farms where the nuts take a long time to grow and harvest.
Are macadamia nuts good for people with diabetes?
Macadamia nuts are naturally low in carbohydrates and sugar and high in monounsaturated fats. Eating foods with monounsaturated fats can help lower the risk of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes. Even though they are high in fat, studies have shown that adding moderate amounts of macadamia nuts to your diet should not result in significant weight gain.