The benefits of Macadamia nuts extend beyond their creamy taste. They have a coconut-like taste and a distinctive nutritional profile. Macadamia nuts contain beneficial phytonutrients and nutrients such as vitamins A and B, iron, manganese, folate, and powerful antioxidants. Moreover, they contain many beneficial fatty acids. As a result, they may decrease the risk of heart disease and are useful in treating and preventing diabetes.
This article discusses the importance of macadamia nuts, their benefits, history, nutritional profile, and any potential side effects. Take a look.
In This Article
What Are Macadamia Nuts?
Macadamia nuts are the fruits of the macadamia tree, which is native to Australia. They are also called Queensland nuts, bush nuts, maroochi nuts, Hawaii nuts, and bauple nuts and are commercially very important.
The trees belong to the Proteaceae family of plants and can reach as much as 40 feet in height. The leaves are elliptical and usually arranged in whorls of three to six. The flowers are slender and about 10 inches long. Macadamia nuts are extremely hard and woody. They have a pointed apex and contain one or two seeds.
The nuts have a piece of history.
What Is The History Of Macadamia Nuts?
Here’s some trivia.
It was the German-Australian botanist Ferdinand von Mueller who gave the genus the name Macadamia way back in 1857. The name was in honor of John Macadam, a Scottish-Australian chemist, politician, and medical teacher.
In the late 1800s, the macadamia seedlings were introduced to Hawaii, and it was not until the 1970s that the macadamia nut industry in Australia began to flourish.
There is a reason these nuts flourished. Before we get into the details, let’s take a look at the most important health aspects of these nuts or why these nuts are considered healthy.
What Makes Macadamia Nuts Healthy?
Macadamia nuts contain some of the most important essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, B vitamins, iron, folate, manganese, protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants.
They are also rich in oleic acid and omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids, which are also found in olive oil.
There are numerous other nutrients these nuts contain.
Macadamia Nuts Nutrition Facts
Macadamias are rich sources of vitamin A, iron, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folates. They also contain moderate amounts of zinc, copper, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. Macadamia nuts contain antioxidants like polyphenols, amino acids, flavones, and selenium. They are also good sources of carbohydrates like sucrose, fructose, glucose, maltose, and some starch-based carbohydrates.
|Nutrient||Unit||Value per 100.0g||1.0 cup, whole or halves 134g||1.0 oz (10-12 kernels) 28.35g|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||75.77||101.53||21.48|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||13.82||18.52||3.92|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||8.6||11.5||2.4|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||1.2||1.6||0.3|
|Vitamin A, RAE||µg||0||0||0|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||0||0||0|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||mg||0.54||0.72||0.15|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||µg||0.0||0.0||0.0|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||g||12.061||16.162||3.419|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||g||58.877||78.895||16.692|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||g||1.502||2.013||0.426|
Values sourced from USDA, macadamia nuts, raw
One ounce of raw macadamia nuts (about 28 grams) contains 201 calories. It contains 21 grams of total fat, of which just 3 grams is saturated fat. The nuts contain no cholesterol and negligible amounts of sodium. Other important nutrients in an ounce of the nuts include:
- 2 milligrams of manganese (58% DV)
- 3 milligrams of thiamine (23% DV)
- 2 milligrams of copper (11% DV)
- 4 grams of fiber (10% DV)
- 37 milligrams of magnesium (9% DV)
- 1 milligram of iron (6% DV)
- 53 milligrams of phosphorus (5% DV)
- 1 milligram of vitamin B6 (4% DV)
- 2 grams of protein (4% DV)
These nutrients make macadamia nuts healthy.
Let’s now look at the benefits.
What Are The Benefits Of Macadamia Nuts?
As they are rich in fiber and other minerals like magnesium and potassium, these nuts improve heart health. They help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The fiber in these nuts also aids diabetes treatment, and the antioxidants rejuvenate your skin and hair.
1. May Promote Heart Health
Macadamia nuts are also rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which helps combat oxidative stress and inflammation. Thus, they may help cut the risk of coronary artery disease (2).
A report by the American Heart Association states that individuals with diabetes may cut their risk of heart disease by including nuts in their diet (3). This is because the monounsaturated fats in nuts (including macadamia nuts) can improve lipid blood profiles (2).
These nuts are also believed to lower blood pressure, thereby contributing to heart health. Certain sources attribute this quality of macadamia nuts to their potassium content (4).
2. May Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Nuts, in general, are known to relieve the impact of certain health issues that come along with diabetes. This statement is further proved by a Canadian study that states that tree nuts (including macadamia nuts) can improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes (5).
Macadamia nuts have a unique profile of macro and micronutrients and other bioactive compounds that help improve blood sugar levels and counter the ill effects of diabetes (6). Another report suggests that though macadamia nuts have fats, they are okay to be consumed during diabetes. As these nuts contain monounsaturated fatty acids, they may help lower bad cholesterol (1).
3. May Aid Weight Loss
There is no reason you will not lose weight if you follow the right diet and move your body enough. Including macadamia nuts in your diet is one way of doing it.
Macadamia nuts are low in carbohydrates (1 ounce of the nuts offers 4 grams of carbs), but they are slightly higher in calories (1 ounce of the nuts contains about 205 calories) (7). But worry not – having about 2 ounces of the nuts can inch you a little further towards your weight loss goals.
The nuts also contain fiber (7). Having them every morning with breakfast may keep your hunger pangs at bay.
It is also believed that the nuts can lead to a healthy weight gain. This could be because they contain the most calories in an ounce (which mostly comes from the healthy monounsaturated fats). However, there is less research to support this.
Some experts believe that macadamia nuts may also help prevent abdominal obesity, which is one of the four factors leading to metabolic syndrome. More research is warranted here to establish this.
4. May Improve Bone Health
The phosphorus in the nuts promotes the mineralization of teeth and bones (9).
5. Can Support Gut Health
The nuts contain fiber, which may promote gut health. Studies show that dietary fiber can have beneficial effects on gut microbiota (10).
The nuts are particularly rich in copper. Though it is believed that copper supports the enzymatic reactions that improve digestive health, we need more research to confirm it.
But be careful where you buy your macadamia nuts from as recent sources state the growing levels of salmonella in tree nuts (including macadamia nuts) (11).
6. May Help Relieve Inflammation
A study suggests that the consumption of macadamia nuts can help relieve inflammation, which can otherwise cause coronary heart disease (2). Another mice study states the efficacy of macadamia nut oil in treating inflammation (12).
7. Can Boost Healthy Fats
We have already seen that these nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, the healthy fats.
Macadamia nuts are 75% fat, but most of that is the monounsaturated type. A typical US diet contains about 37% fat, and as per a study, replacing that fat with fat from macadamia nuts could dramatically improve lipid profiles (15).
Some reports also state that macadamia nuts boost HDL, the good cholesterol, and lower the levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol. However, more research is warranted in this aspect.
8. May Improve Brain Health
Nuts, in general, are inversely associated with stroke risk (16).
The oleic acid in the nuts is also believed to prevent stroke, though information is limited in this regard.
Another acid in the nuts is palmitoleic acid, which also is an important component of myelin (myelin is a fatty layer that protects nerve cells in the brain).
A few other nutrients in macadamia nuts are copper, vitamin B1, manganese, and magnesium – all of which aid the production of healthy neurotransmitters.
Also, the omega-9 that these nuts contain helps improve mood. This fatty acid can enhance memory and prevent several neurological diseases. A study states that a particular omega-9 fatty acid that may help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (17).
Macadamia nuts also contain high-quality protein, though only in a small amount. Some believe that this protein may offer sustained energy levels and improve your mood. However, more research is needed here.
9. May Boost Metabolism
The monounsaturated fatty acids in macadamia nuts can accelerate fat metabolism. Consuming tree nuts, in general, has been linked to a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome (18).
10. Can Help Fight Oxidative Stress
Studies have shown that nuts (including macadamia nuts) can help relieve oxidative stress in individuals (4). These nuts are also loaded with antioxidants, which help beat stress as well. This is because antioxidants fight free radicals, high levels of which can lead to oxidative stress and an increased risk of disease (19).
11. May Improve Skin Health
Macadamia nuts contain tocotrienols and squalene, two important compounds that prevent sunlight-induced oxidative stress on the skin (20).
The essential fatty acids in macadamia nuts play a role in skin health, and this is particularly true for macadamia nut oil. The palmitoleic acid in the nuts is another essential fatty acid that prevents tissue dehydration and promotes skin healing and regeneration (21).
Applying the oil to your skin can render it a youthful glow. Though it is thick, it gets absorbed by the skin quite easily. It is important to note that there is some amount of palmitoleic acid naturally occurring on our skin, which diminishes with age. The application of this nut oil can replenish the skin with the essential acid.
The palmitoleic acid may also help delay skin aging. It may prevent the early onset of the signs of aging, like wrinkles and age spots. There is insufficient information available in this regard.
Those were the benefits of macadamia nuts. But there’s a catch – how can you avail the benefits if you aren’t sure about selecting the right kind of nuts and storing them?
How To Select And Store Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are found all year round, so we don’t have to worry about the season in their case. There are also numerous types of macadamia nuts (sweetened, salted, shelled, unshelled, etc.) available on the market.
Go for those without any additives – those that don’t contain any salt or sweeteners. The best macadamia nuts are compact, smooth, and uniform in size. They don’t have any cracks and don’t emit any weird smell.
Store the nuts in a cool and dry place. They can stay in your pantry for months without getting spoiled. But do check from time to time for the growth of any mold or bacteria. Also, in case you have purchased shelled kernels, they should go into an airtight container right inside your refrigerator. Otherwise, they may go rancid quite fast.
You can use a special device to crack the nuts open. This macadamia nutcracker can help you get the job done.
You might want to eat the nuts raw. However, adding them to some tasteful recipes can only make your day more special.
Any Popular Macadamia Nut Recipes?
A couple of popular dishes include White chocolate macadamia nut cookies and Blueberry macadamia cheesecake.
1. White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
What You Need
- 1 cup of softened butter
- ½ cup of white sugar
- ¾ cup of packed light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon of almond extract
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup of white chocolate, coarsely chopped
- Preheat your oven to 350o
- In a large bowl, add the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Mix until the mixture is smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.
- Combine the flour, salt, and baking soda and gradually stir into the creamy mixture.
- Add the macadamia nuts and white chocolate. Drop this dough with a spoon on greased cookie sheets.
- Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cookies are golden brown.
2. Blueberry Macadamia Cheesecake
What You Need
- For the crust, you need 3 ½ ounces of macadamias (crushed in a blender), 1 cup of flour, ¼ cup of firmly packed brown sugar, and ½ cup of softened sweet butter.
- For the 1st layer, you need 24 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 cup of sugar, and 4 eggs.
- For the 2nd layer, you need 1 cup of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- And for the topping, you need 2 cups of fresh blueberries, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and 3 tablespoons of cold water.
- Preheat the oven to 400o F.
- For making the crust, combine the respective ingredients and mix well. Press on the bottom of the 10-inch pan, and let it bake for 15 minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. For making the first layer, crumble the cheese in a large bowl and add the vanilla extract, sugar, and eggs.
- Using an electric mixer, beat at high speed. Do this until the mixture is well blended and smooth.
- Pour the mixture over the crust.
- Bake for 40 minutes until it is set. Ensure it is not completely firm.
- Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
- For the next layer, combine the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Spread it over the cake.
- Bake for 5 minutes and let it cool.
- For the topping, mix the cornstarch with cold water to form a smooth paste.
- Stir in the berries and cook until the mixture is thick. Let it cool and then spread the mixture on the cheesecake.
- Cool for about an hour before serving.
Not just in these recipes, there are other ways you can use macadamia nuts.
Any Other Ways To Use Macadamia Nuts?
Macadamia nut oil can be used to cook a wide variety of delicious foods. It works very well as a salad dressing because it has an almost sweet and nutty flavor. It is also a wonderful oil for frying and baking. Macadamia nut oil tastes great with everything from fruits to cheese and veggies.
Apart from cooking with macadamia nut oil, you can also use it topically and give your skin and hair all the benefits it has to offer. To condition your hair, warm it and massage your hair and scalp with it. To keep your skin young-looking and moisturized, you can use it on your body after your daily shower. You can also use this fantastic oil to treat damaged cuticles.
You may also add the nuts to your morning oatmeal for a sumptuous breakfast. Or add chopped macadamia nuts to your evening salad. You can process macadamia nuts as butter and use it in the place of peanut butter.
Where To Buy Macadamia Nuts
You can buy them preferably from your nearest supermarket or online. Organic is always the best.
Here are some fun facts about these nuts.
Any Fast Facts About Macadamia Nuts?
- Most of the macadamia nuts in the world are grown on the island of Hawaii.
- The nuts were first introduced to Hawaii way back in 1881, as ornaments. The first commercial orchards of the nuts started in 1921.
- Macadamia nuts are the toughest of nuts. It takes 300 pounds per square inch of pressure to crack them. They are tough nuts to crack, for sure.
- The United States of America is the largest consumer of macadamia nuts (51% of the world’s total consumption), while Japan sits at a distant second (15%).
- Every year, September 4 is celebrated as the National Macadamia Nut Day.
- No matter how good anything is in this world, it does have a shade of darkness. And so does the macadamia nut.
Any Side Effects Of Macadamia Nuts?
The nuts are largely safe, and the side effects are rare. But excess intake can cause allergies and high blood pressure.
Ingestion of the nuts may cause a skin hypersensitivity reaction (22). Certain individuals have also reported experiencing allergies like coughing.
- Blood Pressure
In case the nuts you purchased are salted, they can elevate your blood pressure levels (4). Hence, go for the unsalted (and unsweetened) variety.
- Gastrointestinal Issues
Given that they are good sources of fiber, having too many of these nuts can cause gastrointestinal issues. Too much of fiber has been associated with constipation (23). Certain individuals may also experience gas, diarrhea, and bloating.
- Possible Issues In Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
Macadamia nuts are safe when taken in normal amounts. There is no research available on the effects of excess intake of these nuts on pregnant and/or breastfeeding women. Hence, stick to normal amounts.
Having a couple of ounces of these nuts (about 60 grams) a day should be fine.
There are numerous benefits of macadamia nuts. They are loaded with vitamins A and B, iron, manganese, folate, and antioxidants. They promote cardiovascular, bone, gut, brain, and skin health. These nuts also boost metabolism, fight oxidative stress, relieve inflammation, and aid in weight loss. You can use these nuts in salads, breakfast toppings, or as macadamia nut oil for cooking. However, overconsumption may cause undesirable side effects like gastrointestinal issues and elevated blood pressure levels (if they are salted). Moderate consumption is advised.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are macadamia nuts expensive?
These nuts are expensive because the macadamia tree must be at least 7 to 10 years old to produce the nuts. Their shells are so hard that they can be broken only prior to sale.
Can dogs eat macadamia nuts?
Not really. The nuts can make your dog ill. Some serious symptoms of macadamia poisoning include vomiting, muscle tremors, and, in certain cases, back-end paralysis.
Are dry roasted macadamia nuts good for you?
Yes, provided you eat them unsalted. Salted nuts may not be as healthy.
Are macadamia nuts keto?
Yes. They are quite low in carbs and hence can be a part of a keto diet.
Should you refrigerate macadamia nuts?
You can refrigerate them to increase their shelf life. You can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Are macadamia nuts good for hair?
The fatty acid in the nuts may treat dry hair and strengthen the hair roots. Massaging your hair regularly with macadamia nut oil can make it shine, stimulate hair growth, and rebuild hair elasticity.
The nut oil may also prevent hair breakage by penetrating the scalp and improving the strength of the hair follicles. The oil also controls frizz. It hydrates the hair as well.
However, none of these benefits have been substantiated by solid research.
Can macadamia nuts treat anemia?
There is no direct research. However, the nuts contain some amount of iron, and this may supplement anemia treatment. We advise you to also include other iron-rich foods like spinach in your diet. Also, including vitamin C in your diet can improve iron absorption and help prevent anemia.
Do macadamia nuts offer an energy boost?
The complex carbs these nuts are made of may offer you a sustained energy boost.
- A macadamia nut-rich diet reduces total and LDL-cholesterol in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women, The Journal of Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Macadamia nut consumption modulates favourably risk factors for coronary artery disease in hypercholesterolemic subjects, Lipids, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Nut Consumption in Relation to Cardiovascular Disease Incidence and Mortality Among Patients With Diabetes Mellitus, Circulation Research.
- Health Benefits of Nut Consumption, Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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- Nuts and Dried Fruits: An Update of Their Beneficial Effects on Type 2 Diabetes, Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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- Dietary Fiber and the Human Gut Microbiota: Application of Evidence Mapping Methodology, Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Prevalence of Salmonella in Cashews, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Pecans, Pine Nuts, and Walnuts in the United States, Journal of Food Protection, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Macadamia Oil Supplementation Attenuates Inflammation and Adipocyte Hypertrophy in Obese Mice, Mediators of Inflammation, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Fatty acid profile, tocopherol, squalene and phytosterol content of walnuts, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and the macadamia nut, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Best Nuts and Seeds for Arthritis, Arthritis Foundation.
- Walnuts and macadamia nuts benefit lipid profiles, Western Journal of Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Nut consumption and risk of stroke, European Journal of Epidemiology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The memory-enhancing effect of erucic acid on scopolamine-induced cognitive impairment in mice, Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effect of tree nuts on metabolic syndrome criteria: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials, BMJ Open, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Studies on free radicals, antioxidants, and co-factors, Clinical Interventions in Aging, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Functional lipid characteristics, oxidative stability, and antioxidant activity of macadamia nut (Macadamiaintegrifolia) cultivars, Food Chemistry, ResearchGate.
- Topical anti-inflammatory activity of palmitoleic acid improves wound healing, PloS One, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Allergy to macadamia nut, Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Stopping or reducing dietary fiber intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms, World Journal of Gastroenterology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.