Can a food that is up to 75% fat be good for you?
The answer is a big, giant yes.
Macadamia nuts have the highest fat content of any tree nut and that’s one of the many reasons they’re one of the healthiest foods you can eat.
Macadamia nuts are nutritional powerhouses. Regular consumption of nuts has been found to have lifelong positive effects from preventing cardiovascular disease to preventing cancer.
In the short term, nut consumption can help with weight loss and healthy skin.
Recent studies are showing the macadamia nut stands out because of it’s unique health benefits.
- A 2015 meta-analysis study showed regular nut consumption was associated with a 26% decrease in the development of cardiovascular disease[*].
- Macadamia nuts contain a little-known omega 7 fatty acid called palmitoleic acid that has been shown to have positive effects on blood glucose regulation and insulin sensitivity in people affected with type II diabetes[*].
- A 2015 study appearing in the American Heart Association’s Journal showed that regular nut consumption significantly decreased the risk of early mortality, especially in those who ate nuts 8 or more times a week[*].
Plus, macadamia nuts are often grown sustainably, making them a great go-to for the eco-conscious consumer looking to replace or reduce their almond consumption.
Knowing it takes a gallon of water to grow a single almond in drought-ridden California (the number one U.S. producer of almonds) is a tough to swallow, but macadamia nuts can provide both a nutritionally and environmentally sound swap.
Before we get too swept up in all the incredible benefits of macadamia nuts, a word of caution: Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and need to be kept out of Fido’s reach.
Keep this in mind as by the end of this article you’ll be wanting to buy macadamia nuts in bulk straight from the source.
We’ll cover the topics on:
- The history of macadamia nuts
- Macadamia nuts as a nutritional powerhouse
- 7 Amazing health benefits
- Recipes worth trying
Macadamia nuts are most commonly associated with Hawaii, although the number one global producer is South Africa[*].
The association between macadamia nuts and Hawaii is so strong that some people call the nuts Hawaii nuts or even Manua Loa nuts.
Manua Loa is a macadamia nut farm named after the Manua Loa volcano that has been around since 1949[*].
Surprisingly, macadamia originated in Australia long before they were transplanted to Hawaii in 1881 by an Australian tourist. That explains why alternative names for macadamia also include Queensland nut, bush nut, maroochi nut and bauple nut.
The name Macadamia nut came around in 1857 when an Australian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller named the nut in honor of a chemist John Macadam.
Macadamia nuts are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber, key B-vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium and zinc.
Here’s the nutritional breakdown on 1 ounce serving of raw macadamia nuts (10-12 nuts)[*]:
- 201 Calories
- 4 g Carbohydrate
- 21.2 g Fat
- 2.2 g Protein
- 2.4 g Fiber
- 0.3 mg Thiamin (22% DV)
- 0.1 mg Vitamin B6 (4% DV)
- 23.8 mg Calcium (2% DV)
- 0.2 mg Copper (11% DV)
- 1.0 mg Iron (6% DV)
- 36.4 mg Magnesium (9% DV)
- 1.2 mg Manganese (58% DV)
- 103 mg Potassium (3% DV)
- 1.0 mcg Selenium (1% DV)
Now let’s take a look at how those nutrition facts translate into seven major health benefits.
The fat-phobia of yesteryear left macadamia nuts with a tarnished reputation, but the irony is that the high fat content of macadamia nuts is one of the biggest reasons that macadamia nuts are a major health food.
Macadamia nuts are loaded with nutrients that support both long-term and short-term health — everything from a flawless complexion to staving off heart disease.
There are 7 major health benefits of macadamia nuts and 1 surprising bonus benefit that will put your metaphorical heart at ease when you purchase them.
#1: Improved Brain Function
The composition of macadamia nuts is between 72-75% fat, which explains their buttery texture. These same fats provide a bevy of health benefits beginning with your brain.
The fats found in macadamia nuts are healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. One of these fatty acids is oleic fatty acid, the same fatty acid that has given olive oil it’s claim to health fame.
Oleic fatty acid contributes to brain health by keeping blood pressure low and decreasing the risk of stroke[*].
But there’s another type of fatty acid found in macadamia nuts that is a lesser known superhero — palmitoleic acid. It’s an omega 7 fatty acid. Mentions of omega 7s are very rare, but they’re amazingly healthy.
Palmitoleic acid, which is found abundantly in macadamia nuts, has been shown to be a major component of myelin, the fatty protective coating around your neurons. That makes palmitoleic acid important for brain development in babies and for long term brain health[*].
Macadamia are rich in both copper and thiamin.
- Copper is needed to efficiently absorb and utilize iron, which in turn helps get oxygen to the brain[*].
- Thiamin, also known as vitamin B1, is essential for converting carbohydrates into energy[*]. More often than not this is energy for the brain providing the fuel needed to boost your cognitive function and mood[*][*].
One of the unforeseen benefits of eating better and living a healthier lifestyle is how much better your brain functions.
Many people will describe this feeling as though a fog has lifted.
#2: Great for Heart Health
The same monounsaturated fats that give macadamia nuts their caloric punch are the same fats that offer up major heart health benefits.
The healthy monounsaturated fats found in macadamia help lower triglycerides, which in turn lowers total cholesterol.
These same healthy fats lend fluidity to cell membranes which translates to veins and arteries that go with the flow, lowering blood pressure.
Not only do macadamia nuts contain loads of omega 3 fatty acids, they are rich in a type of monounsaturated fatty called palmitoleic fatty acid. Palmitoleic fatty acids are omega 7 fatty acids that have both anti-inflammatory and lipid-lowering effects[*].
A 2017 study published found that palmitoleic fatty acid has a positive effects on blood glucose regulation and muscular sensitivity in those affected by type II diabetes[*].
#3: Aid in Weight Loss
Again, flying in the face of everything we’ve been taught to believe, high-fat macadamia nuts are great for weight loss. One ounce of these nuts clock in at 201 calories, most of which are from healthy fats.
This in turn means you eat less overall. Remember your grandma’s advice to eat something that’ll stick with you?
#4: Disease Prevention
The healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants in macadamia nuts make them a valuable tool in disease prevention.
The healthy fats help nourish the nervous system and provide a bevy of previously mentioned heart health benefits. Fiber helps reduce cholesterol[*], as well as lower the risk of breast, mouth, throat, esophageal, colon and prostate cancer[*].
A 2015 meta-analysis study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found nut consumption had a significant positive association with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer related mortality[*].
A 2010 report published in Nutrients reviewed 150 scientific studies, which concluded that nut consumption was shown to have many health benefits, inclusive of, but not limited to lowering the risks for cardiovascular disease and cancer[*].
#5: Strengthens Bones and Teeth
In 2010, researchers found that tree nuts are rich in calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, and are low in sodium. This helps protect against bone demineralization[*]. This was based on a review of over 150 scientific studies.
The calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and healthy fats help build strong bones and teeth. While the minerals calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese physically build the structure of bones and teeth, the monounsaturated fats reduce inflammation that breaks down the tissues, as well as causes problems in gums surrounding teeth. All of which helps in the long-run for healthy bones and teeth.
The specific fat of interest in this instance is palmitoleic acid. A 2017 study showed that palmitoleic consumption significantly promoted anti-inflammatory effects in the body[*].
#6: Decrease Inflammation
Inflammation is basically the root of all evil.
It’s linked with the big bads of early deaths — diabetes, cancer and heart disease. But regular nut consumption has been shown to be a great tool at fighting inflammation.
A 2015 population-based prospective investigation with 19,386 participants showed a significant positive association between regular nut consumption and a decreased risk of overall premature mortality.
People who ate nuts eight or more times a week showed the highest reduction in inflammation biomarkers[*].
Strive for a serving of nuts daily. A serving of nuts is 1 ounce. In the case of macadamia nuts this is 10 to 12 nuts without the shell.
The healthy fats aren’t the only inflammation-fighting nutrient in nuts. Pair them with magnesium’s inflammation reduction capabilities and macadamia nuts become a perfect snack for anyone looking to reduce inflammation[*].
#7: Bonus Benefit: Macadamia Nuts Are Sustainable
Conscious consumerism is in and here to stay. With the environment weighing heavy on everyone’s minds, more people are looking into where their food came from and how it is grown. In addition to being keto-friendly, macadamia nuts are often grown in an eco-friendly, sustainable manner.
Because macadamia nuts are tree nuts, the soil they’re grown in isn’t constantly turned-over to grow crop after crop, but rather nourished for the long game. Macadamia trees begin producing nuts after only 5 to 7 years and can produce for up to 100 years. That’s 100 years of soil being protected from erosion, nutrient depletion and chemical bombardment.
What’s more, the husks from macadamia nuts have a multitude of uses ranging from powering the very facilities that process the nuts to being composted to make mulch and fertilizers. Some husks are even ground up and used as a part of animal feed.
How to Buy and Story Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts can be eaten and purchased raw or roasted.
If you’re looking for maximum nutrient retention and decreased likelihood of additives, choose raw. You can easy roast them at home. However, if you’re pressed for time, it’s fine to choose the pre-roasted varieties as long as you check the expiration date and the ingredient panel.
Store macadamia nuts in an airtight container in a cool dry place, like your pantry.
Macadamia freeze very well. In fact, if you’re not going to eat them in the next two to three weeks, freezing is recommended. The high fat content, especially the monounsaturated fat, can go rancid very quickly.
Who Should Avoid Macadamia Nuts (And Why)
While macadamia nuts are relatively low in oxalate, they are high in phosphorus, making them a concern for some kidney patients. If you have kidney related health issues ask your healthcare provider if you can consume macadamia nuts. Always error on the side of caution.
Eaten in normal quantities, macadamia nuts are safe for pregnant women to eat. No studies have been done on the effects of excessive macadamia nut consumption and pregnancy outcome.
If you’re allergic to other tree nuts, avoid macadamia nuts as well. And always keep macadamia nuts away from your dog, as they are toxic to dogs.
Macadamia nuts are naturally gluten free, but always check the label to make sure they weren’t exposed to gluten in processing.
Thank goodness you’re completely over your fat-phobia after reading this article, because you don’t wanna miss out on these divine, delicious and oh-so-nutritious treats. Forget guilt and enjoy your chocolate already. These chocolate bars offer up a metric you-know-what-load of nutrition: healthy fats, magnesium, iron, protein and flavor. Hey, flavor isn’t listed as a nutrient, yet, but given that it’s the number one reason we eat, it’s probably time to start putting it under consideration. Get the recipe HERE.
Dry Roasted Macadamia Nuts
The simplest thing to do with macadamia nuts is roast them. From there you can eat them or add them to other recipes. They make an incredible swap for croutons on a salad. The key is to roast them whole.
Preheat oven to 350°F
Place macadamia nuts in a single layer on an unoiled cookie sheet. The nuts have all the oil they need already.
Roast for 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown and the air smells divine.
Remove from oven, allow to cool and enjoy.
Kid-You-Not Delicious, 5-Minute Nut Cheese
If the term ‘nut cheese’ makes your stomach churn or induces a giggle, you’re not alone. For anyone who has ventured to make their own nut cheese, the idea of making it in only 5 minutes seems to good to be true. Behold the magic of the macadamia nut.
No need to refrigerate before serving. It’s ready to go as is. That said, it will firm up in the fridge if that is a consistency you prefer and it is best stored in the fridge when not being eaten.
Get the full recipe at MinimalistBaker.com.
The Big Fat Deal about Macadamia Nuts
It’s time to recognize macadamia nuts for the nutritional powerhouse they are.
Forget fat phobia and throw them into your shopping cart and onto your next salad. Fret not at the price, it’s assurance they were grown sustainably and a bit of insurance that you’ll make sure to keep your serving sizes in check.
As part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, macadamia nuts can help you lose weight, think at your highest level and help prevent everything from cardiovascular disease to cancer.
Sheila Amir is an experienced health and nutrition writer. After 8 years of practice she hung up her hat as a nutritionist to help a larger audience through writing and presenting. She’s the Sheila of NutritionSheila.com, a long-time yogi, major food enthusiast and outdoor junkie.