You might be amazed to learn about the health benefits of macadamia nuts, even though they are among nuts that are richest in fats and calories. Of course high fat and calories are generally not qualities of a healthy food. But just before you write macadamia nuts off, you should know that they are a rich source of nutrients, and that’s in addition to being surprisingly good for your heart. Some of its benefits include improving heart health, aiding digestion, improving cognitive function, and fighting inflammation.
Botanical name: Macadamia integrifolia
Other names: Australian nut, Queensland nut, Macadamia nut, Bush nut, Maroochi nut, Bauple nut, Hawaii nut
Spanish name: Macadamia
French name: Noix de Queensland
Macadamia nuts are the seeds of the fruit of the macadamia tree, Macadamia integrifolia, an evergreen tree that belongs to the botanical family Proteaceae, which reaches a height of about 9 meters. It was discovered in Australia in the 19th century. It is a tough nut, whose thick shell encloses a cream colored oil-rich nut.
- Macadamia nut contains about 75% fats, most of which are monounsaturated.
- It also contains quite complete proteins, which are only lacking in methionine. The lack of methionine can easily be compensated by combining macadamia nuts with whole grains.
- In terms of vitamins and minerals, macadamia nut is a good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, niacin, phosphorus, iron, manganese, magnesium, and calcium.
- It contains significant amounts of dietary fiber, close to 9% of its total content.
Macadamia is among nuts that are richest in oil, with its oil similar to that of olives. It’s oil is said to be excellent for frying because of its very high evaporation point (198′ C) and heat stability. The fats in macadamia is formed of mainly monounsaturated fatty acids, which according to numerous recent studies from various world class research institutes, have shown that it has a negative effect on the heart.
Thus, macadamia and its oil are heart-friendly foods due to the great characteristics of their fats, which help lower cholesterol level and improve blood circulation through coronary arteries. Also, the presence of antioxidant polyphenolic flavonoids in macadamia helps prevent arteriosclerosis.
4 Scientifically proven benefits and medicinal uses of macadamia
- Improves heart health
- Aids digestion
- Boosts brain and nervous system function
- Fights inflammation, and may relieve rheumatoid arthritis
Improves heart health
The monounsaturated fatty acids in macadamia help reduce cholesterol levels and lower triglycerides in the blood. By lowering the amount of cholesterol in our bodies, this nut helps us reduce the risk of dangerous cardiovascular disorders.
Excess cholesterol in the body poses great risk to our heart health, as it can clump in our arteries and block blood flow to vital organs such as the heart and brain. Situations that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
In a world were heart disease is the leading cause of death, taking steps to improving the health and functioning of your heart becomes very vital. And one way to do that is by adding some macadamia nuts to your diet.
To check whether macadamia nuts are effective in reducing cholesterol level, a research fed mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women with macadamia over a period of 5 weeks, and then recorded their cholesterol levels (1). Interestingly, the study found macadamia nuts consumption to reduce the level of both total and LDL or bad cholesterol in all subjects.
Macadamia consumption may help boost your overall digestive function. This can be attributed mainly to its rich fiber content.
Fiber is necessary for a good and proper digestion. It helps add bulk to stool and stimulate the peristaltic action of the gut in moving feces down the colon – an action that fights constipation. It also supports the growth of beneficial gut flora. Moreover, presence of fiber in the stomach can stimulate the production of digestive enzymes, which are necessary before food can be made ready for assimilation by the body.
The consumption of some few amounts of macadamia can add reasonable content of fiber to your diet. Just 100 grams of raw macadamia nuts contain up to 8.6 g of dietary fiber. An amount only few foods can boost of.
Improves cognitive function
Macadamia nuts contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. Some of them include copper, manganese, magnesium, and some B group vitamins. Also, macadamia contains good amounts of oleic and palmitoleic acid, both of which are important for proper brain function. In fact, a research found palmitoleic acid to be a component of myelin, a fatty layer that surrounds and protect the nerve cells.
More recently, magnesium which is found in macadamia in good amounts, has been found to restore critical brain plasticity and improve cognitive function. All these are actions that can improve overall memory and learning process.
A research conducted, although in animals, found macadamia oil to attenuate inflammation (2). Also, a study conducted in 2006, evaluated up to 106 extracts from 40 plants, including macadamia, for their effectiveness in treatment and prevention rheumatoid arthritis (3). Interestingly, extracts from macadamia nuts were among the 13 plants found to be most effective. This shows their potential use in blocking the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.
Preparation and use
- Toasted nuts – When toasting macadamia, salt is usually added, but this is not advised for those suffering from coronary disease. Toasted macadamia are very tasty and easier to digest.
- Raw nuts – In order to eat macadamia raw, it has to be ripe, and moreover, it must be well chewed. It is important to note that some raw macadamia may have a bitter taste, which is due to the presence of cyanogenetic glucosides.