Properties and Benefits of Macadamia Nuts: A valuable member of the nut family, macadamia nuts are a popular food choice worldwide. The macadamia tree is native to the Australian continent but thrives in any region with a subtropical climate. Two major species of macadamia nuts are commercialized as being safe for human consumption: Macadamia integrifolia and Macademia tetraphylla.
Why are macadamia nuts so popular? The reason is simple: 100 g of raw macadamia kernel concentrates generously high amounts of vitamins, minerals, as well as healthy monounsaturated fats, surpassing many high dose vitamin and mineral supplements. The species is particularly rich in manganese, vitamin B1, copper and iron.
Depending on the variety, macadamia nuts can have either a smooth shell (the Macadamia integrifolia nuts) or a rough shell (the Macadamia tetraphylla nut variety). They closely resemble walnuts, having a brown, woody, hard shell and a bright green husk that easily falls off when the fruit is ripe. However, in the case of macadamia nuts, the green husk is pointy, while the kernel is a perfectly round, milk-white nut.
The sweet, nutty flavor of fresh macadamia nuts can have a truly magnetic appeal. Macadamia nuts can be cracked open and eaten as they are or added to cookie dough, pancake fillings and even sundae toppings. But most important, macadamia nuts are highly nutritious and regular consumption can help prevent a series of vitamin and mineral deficiencies with potentially dangerous outcomes for human health.
In order to enjoy all the health benefits macadamia nuts can provide, it is advised to choose raw, unsalted brands. A diet rich in salted foods can have strong negative effects on your health, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and water retention. Also, macadamia nuts have a bewildering 718 kcal/100 g, which is a high caloric value, even for a nut. In order to keep your daily calorie intake within healthy limits, they are are to be consumed with moderation. Aside from this, they are a genuinely healthy snack, considering their high nutritional content.
Macadamia nuts are a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fats, essential fatty acids that can efficiently lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the blood and thus protect against cardiovascular disease. Essential fatty acids also support cognitive functions and the overall activity of the human brain, which is why our diet needs to provide sufficient amounts in order for our body to function properly.
Adding to their health benefits, they boast an incredibly high fiber content: 8,6 g of fiber per 100 g of raw nut kernels. Modern diets tend to be low in fiber due to a decrease in the consumption of nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and cereals. As a consequence, modern man consumes low-fiber processed foods which slow down intestinal transit time and decrease the frequency of bowel movements. This, in time, may lead to chronic constipation.
A small serving of macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts or any other fiber-rich foods such as these can help restore normal bowel movements and prevent other potentially debilitating, related medical conditions such as hemorrhoids.
Macadamia nuts are a wonderful source of B vitamins: folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine (21%), riboflavin and thiamine (100%). B vitamins make sure the food we ingest is properly converted into energy which keeps us up and about all day long. Thiamine in particular is found in more than generous amounts in macadamia nuts: 100 g of fresh kernels contains the full recommended daily intake of the vitamin. Thiamine supports normal brain function and thus prevents premature cognitive decline. A regular consumption of macadamia nuts thus has important benefits for the nervous system.
In addition to this, macadamia nuts are rich in minerals such as copper (84%), iron (46%), magnesium (32,5%), manganese (180%), phosphorus (27%), selenium, potassium, calcium and zinc. If you look at the numbers, you will notice that the amounts of minerals for only 100 g of raw nut kernel are indeed higher than the doses found in many mineral supplements. The best part is they are cheap and delicious.
Copper, for instance, can efficiently prevent premature hair graying. Iron combats anemia and fatigue and helps make new red blood cells. Magnesium increases calcium and potassium absorption and supports muscle health. Manganese protects against oxidation produced by free radicals due to its antioxidant properties. Zinc supports the immune system, while phosphorus contributes to bone health. Imagine eating a handful of macadamia nuts and enjoying all of these health benefits thanks to the wide variety of vitamins and minerals found in them.
Last but not least, macadamia nuts are gluten-free. If you are struggling with the restrictions imposed by a celiac disease diet, you can safely eat macadamia nuts and easily increase your nutrient intake to prevent possible vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Moreover, they have a sweet, nutty flavor which will make it easier for children to enjoy them as well. The high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids will also provide protection against cardiovascular disease and stroke.