The Many Health Benefits Of Macadamia Nuts

Think you’d have to be crazy to incorporate macadamia nuts into a healthy diet? Like eggs, nuts have long gotten a bad rap for due to their high fat content. But, as it turns out, some nuts (like the macadamia) might be more nutritious than once suspected. Studies show that macadamia nuts are actually good for your health. Read on to learn the many benefits of what many people swear is the world’s most delicious nut.

Macadamia nuts come from macadamia nut trees that typically grow in tropical climates with volcanic soil such as Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, New Zealand and South Africa. Macadamia nut trees were planted extensively in Hawaiias a harvesting crop in the 1900s. Since then, the Hawaiian macadamia nut has become an internationally acclaimed delicacy.

Macadamia nuts have had a bad reputation for a long time, mostly because they are high in fat. However, between 78 to 86 percent of the fat is monounsaturated (the good for you, heart-healthy kind of fat). Monounsaturated fat helps lower cholesterol and decreases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

In addition, macadamia nuts are one of the only food sources that contain palmitoleic acid (a type of monounsaturated fatty acid that may speed up fat metabolism, thus reducing the body’s ability to store fat).

Because of its high content of monounsaturated fat, macadamia nut oil is fast becoming a favorite among top chefs around the world. Not only is it healthier than olive oil and canola oil, but many people also believe that it has a better taste. In addition, macadamia nut oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil, which means that it can be cooked at higher temperatures without breaking down and losing its flavor.

Another health benefit of macadamia nuts comes from their flavanoids (the same compounds that give red wine its healthful claim to fame). Flavanoids are compounds naturally found in plants. They help repair damaged plant cells and protect the plant from environmental toxins. When we eat these plants, our bodies turn the flavanoids into antioxidants. Antioxidants search for and destroy free radicals (destructive particles in the body that cause heart disease and other conditions). As a result, the flavanoids help lower blood pressure and protect against some forms of cancer.

Perhaps the best reason to enjoy macadamia nuts is that, in addition to helping your body reduce cholesterol, they themselves are 100 percent cholesterol free. And, as if you needed any more convincing, macadamia nuts are a source of vitamin A, iron, protein (two grams per serving), thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. They also contain small amounts of selenium (an antioxidant), calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.

One of the biggest proponents of macadamia nut health benefits comes from a study conducted at the University of Hawaii in 2000. The research study compared three different types of diets – a typical American diet that was high in fat and calories, a diet in which the fat calories came solely from macadamia nuts and a “heart-healthy” diet recommended by the American Heart Association. The study compared 15 men and 15 women, ages 18 to 59, as they followed each of the three diets for a period of 1 month.

Results from this study showed that the test subjects who followed the macadamia nut diet had lower cholesterol levels than those on the typical American diet and similar levels to those on the American Heart Association’s low-fat diet. In addition, participants on the macadamia nut diet showed lower levels of triglycerides (a type of blood fat) than either of the other diets. Surprisingly, the participants on the macadamia nut diet (which was high in fat) experienced no significant changes in their cholesterol levels or weight.

Unfortunately, all of this new information doesn’t give you license to “go nuts.” Despite all of their health benefits, macadamias are still high in fat. In fact, these delicious nuts have one of the highest percentages of calories from fat of all nuts. This fact becomes clearer when you compare the number of fat grams present per ounce in a variety of nuts.

* Macadamia nuts – 20.9 grams
* Pecans – 19.2 grams
* Walnuts – 17.6 grams
* Almonds – 14.8 grams
* Peanuts – 13.8 grams

If you want to incorporate macadamia nuts into your diet without gaining weight, you will need to substitute them for other fatty foods. So if you’re looking for an excuse to stock up on your favorite brand of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, you’re out of luck.

It’s easy to incorporate macadamia nuts into your diet. Munch on a handful at work for a nutritious and energizing mid-day snack. Just make sure you look for a plain roasted (rather than oil-roasted), unsalted variety as well to cut down on your sodium intake.

Sprinkle macadamias into salad or use the oil as a base for a salad dressing. You can also substitute macadamia nut oil for vegetable oil or butter when baking or sautéing.

Online you’ll find everything from banana macadamia nut bread to macadamia-crusted chicken breast recipes. If you’re looking for a healthy, satisfying dessert, try dark chocolate macadamia nut candies or for a double dose of antioxidants

Remember, a single serving size is about 11 to 12 macadamia nuts (about 30 grams), and each nut contains about 18 calories. If you can’t find macadamia nuts or oil at the grocery store, you should be able to pick some up in a health food store.

Still can’t get your fill of fun macadamia nut facts? Take a crack at these:

* Macadamia nuts are hand-harvested after they fall to the ground.
* Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, inducing a temporary yet severe weakness.
* Because of their color, finely chopped macadamia nuts are often used to simulate crack cocaine in police drug sting training.
* The macadamia nut’s high amount of palmitoleic acid makes it a common ingredient in skincare cosmetics.

Macadamia nuts are both delicious and nutritious! From the nut itself to macadamia nut oil, the health benefits of this cholesterol-free food are too big to ignore. Whether you’re trying to lower your cholesterol or lose weight, find ways to incorporate the macadamia nut into a healthy diet. Your taste buds and your heart will thank you.

Are You a Health Food Nut?

Lentils. Fish. Nuts. You know health food is good for you, but that doesn’t necessarily make a bland block of tofu any more appealing. Experts insist that health food is essential to your diet, but do you know why? Test your knowledge on healthy fare – from garlic to green tea – with this health food quiz.