Often overlooked because they are not grown extensively stateside and happen to be a little pricier, the macadamia is nonetheless one of the healthiest nuts on the market.
Grown in tropical climates, the oval-shaped white nuts have been the backbone of a thriving industry in Hawaii, and the oil has quickly become a favorite of many chefs because of its light, unique flavor and versatility for cooking.
The light, almost buttery taste of macadamia nuts is a refreshing change of pace from the heavier almonds and peanuts, and macadamia nuts also are packed full of nutrition that makes it one of the best snacks out there for adding healthy fats and protein to your diet.
Some of the Health Benefits of Macadamia Nuts Include:
-High levels of minerals, including manganese, zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium. Selenium is also highly prevalent in macadamia nuts and is excellent for heart health (most people know Brazil nuts as the top nut source but macadamia nuts are also a great source of selenium.
–Packed with fiber, over 8 grams per 100 grams of nuts, or 2 grams per 2 tablespoons if you’re eating macadamia nut butter
-Vitamin A and E, albeit in small amounts, acting as antioxidants
-Rich in healthy mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid (18:1) and palmitoleic acids (16:1), which may help support healthier good cholesterol levels and ratios in the blood
-High in B vitamins for nerve health and energy
Study Shows Macadamia Nut Benefits
Macadamia nuts, much like coconuts, have gotten a bad rap in the past because of their higher levels of fat, but one study from the University of Hawaii suggests that macadamia nut eaters shouldn’t fret too much.
The study, from 2000, compared a diet high in macadamia nuts as its only source of fat, with a “heart-healthy” low fat diet recommended by the American Heart Association and a standard American diet high in fat and calories.
In total, 15 men and 15 women, 18 to 59, followed the diets for one month. It was found that those in the macadamia nut diet bracket saw no significant changes in their cholesterol levels or weight, and had lower levels of triglycerides (a specific type of blood fat) than the other diets.
How to Enjoy Macadamia Nuts
Many people eat macadamia nuts straight up as a snack,as it’s one of the best additions to trail mixes as a high energy food that can sustain for long periods.
I recently had the chance to try a macadamia nut butter from the company Living Tree Community Foods; an organic macadamia butter that is especially rich and smooth (no stirring needed) and doesn’t have any salt (just 1 mg of sodium in total) or other additives to mask the flavor, so you can a much more authentic macadamia nut taste than other nut butters.
Either way, macadamia nuts are one of the most underrated healthy foods, suitable for virtually any type of diet and anyone who’s a fan of clean, delicious eating in general.