Macadamia Nuts Are Packed With Antioxidants (and Are Great in More Than Just Cookies)

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Macadamia nuts are a rich source of manganese and vitamin B1 and are versatile enough to include in both snacks and meals.
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Macadamia nuts are known for being rich in many types of nutrients and antioxidants that can benefit your health. This nutritious food staple is linked to improved heart health, blood sugar levels and more.

Considered both tree nuts and seeds, macadamia nuts are native to Australia but are grown throughout North America, South America, Africa and Asia. In the United States, most macadamia nuts are grown in Hawaii, but you can also find them harvested in states such as California and Florida.

Macadamia nuts are often enjoyed on their own as a snack and can be eaten raw, roasted or salted. They are also mixed into desserts and sweets, like cookies, brownies and ice cream, and may be used in salads and curries or to crust meats and fish.

Macadamia Nuts Nutrition Facts

One ounce of macadamia nuts (about 10 to 12 kernels) is equal to a single serving. One ounce of macadamia nuts contains:

  • Calories: 204
  • Total fat: 21.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 1.4 mg
  • Total carbs: 3.9 g
  • Dietary fiber: 2.4 g
  • Sugar: 1.3 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 2.2 g

Macadamia Nuts Macros

  • Total fat: One ounce of macadamia nuts has 21.5 grams of total fat, which includes 0.4 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 16.7 grams of monounsaturated fat, 3.4 grams of saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat.
  • Carbohydrates: One ounce of macadamia nuts has 3.9 grams of carbs, which includes 2.4 grams of fiber and 1.3 grams of naturally occurring sugars.
  • Protein: One ounce of macadamia nuts has 2.2 grams of protein.

Vitamins, Minerals and Other Micronutrients

  • Manganese: 51% of your Daily Value (DV)
  • Thiamin (B1): 28% DV
  • Copper: 24% DV
  • Magnesium: 9% DV
  • Iron: 6% DV
  • Phosphorus: 4% DV
  • Zinc: 3% DV
  • One ounce of macadamia nuts is not a significant source of potassium (2% DV) or calcium (2% DV).

How Do Macadamia Nuts Compare to Other Common Tree Nuts? 

Based on a 1-oz. serving, raw

Macadamia Nuts

Almonds

Walnuts

Pistachios

Calories

204

164

186

159

Total Fat

21.5 g

14.2 g

18.5 g

12.9 g

Carbohydrates

3.9 g

6.1 g

3.9 g

7.7 g

Dietary Fiber

2.4 g

3.6 g

1.9 g

3 g

Protein

2.2 g

6 g

4.3 g

5.7 g

Source: USDA

Health Benefits of Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are a nutritious addition to your diet, like all nuts and seeds. They provide heart-healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants that can benefit overall wellness in a number of ways.

1. Macadamia Nuts Can Support Heart Health

Nearly 80 percent of the fat content in macadamia nuts is monounsaturated fat, which has heart-healthy benefits.

"Monounsaturated fats have been shown to help reduce total cholesterol and 'bad' LDL cholesterol, which may make them very helpful in lowering heart disease risk," says Diane Javelli, RD, a clinical dietitian at the University of Washington Medical Center.

Macadamia nuts also contribute to your daily intake of fiber, with 2.4 grams of fiber per one-ounce serving (they pack more fiber than walnuts or cashews, but less than pistachios or almonds).

Getting enough fiber in your diet — 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men daily — is associated with a decreased risk of metabolic syndrome. This is a mix of factors like high blood pressure, low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, high triglyceride levels and high insulin levels that contribute to the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Overall, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute calls for four to five servings of nuts, seeds and legumes per week. Following the DASH diet may help you lower your blood pressure in two weeks, and to lower your systolic blood pressure (the top number) by eight to 14 points in the long-term — which could significantly benefit your health, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Tip

Although many nuts have similar nutrient profiles, it’s ideal to eat a variety (say, by mixing macadamia nuts into your go-to almond or pecan trail mix). “If you incorporate different types of nuts — or any foods — into your diet, you can get a wider range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals,” Javelli says.

2. Macadamia Nuts Are Linked to Blood Sugar Control

The ratio of fiber to total carbohydrates in macadamia nuts makes them particularly helpful for managing blood glucose levels.

"Foods like macadamia nuts that are high in fiber and low in total carbohydrates are less likely to spike blood glucose levels," Javelli says. "This is especially important for people who battle with high blood sugar. If they can better control their blood sugar through dietary changes, their doctor may find they need less medication."

The healthy soluble fiber in macadamia nuts also plays an important role in your gut health.

"Fiber acts as a prebiotic, which is basically food for probiotics that live in our intestinal tract," Javelli says. "That may be helpful for a healthy gut microbiome, which some experts believe may play a role in controlling blood sugar levels, along with obesity, cancer and inflammatory bowel disease."

Are You Getting Enough Fiber?

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Overall, low dietary intake of nuts and seeds was associated with 8.5 percent of adult diet-related deaths caused by type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease in a March 2017 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, which analyzed the CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and national disease-specific mortality data.

A May 2015 study in the International Journal of Epidemiology showed similar evidence: People between the ages of 55 and 69 who ate nuts were observed to have a lower risk of premature death due to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, cancer, neurodegenerative conditions and respiratory diseases, which suggests a link between eating nuts and a longer life.

While a one-ounce (28 grams) serving of nuts is standard, the study showed you can reap the benefits from consuming even 10 to 15 grams of nuts per day — which is equal to about half a handful.

3. Macadamia Nuts Are Filled With Antioxidants

Macadamia nuts are a rich source of manganese, an essential mineral that can help protect your body's cells from damage.

Manganese makes up the antioxidant enzyme manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), which is found in cells' mitochondria (cell structures particularly vulnerable to damage because they consume over 90 percent of the oxygen cells use), per Oregon State University. As such, manganese plays an especially important role in protecting cells from oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress is thought to play a role in a number of diseases, including heart disease and cancer. It's caused by free radicals from digestion, physical activity or environmental factors like air pollution, according to the National Institutes of Health.

"Macadamia nuts also contain antioxidants such as flavonoids, selenium and tocotrienols, a form of vitamin E, all of which will help reduce cell-damaging free radicals and may protect against disease by reducing inflammation," Javelli says.

Tip

The antioxidants in macadamia nuts may be reduced when the nuts are roasted or cooked in other ways, according to an August 2015 study in the journal Food Chemistry — so it may be best to enjoy macadamia nuts raw for the most antioxidant benefits.

Macadamia Nut Health Risks

Allergies

Allergy to tree nuts is one of the eight most common types of food allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). It affects an estimated 0.5 to 1 percent of the U.S. population.

People who are allergic to tree nuts like walnuts or pecans may be able to tolerate macadamia nuts or pine nuts (which are both technically seeds), according to the AAAAI. That said, there is some cross-reactivity between the proteins in macadamia nuts and those in hazelnuts, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. This means your body may have a similar response to both.

It's important to check with your doctor or an allergist to assess your risk. Food allergies can involve life-threatening anaphylaxis and may require you to have epinephrine on hand at all times.

Calorie Intake

Macadamia nuts are calorically dense and eating them in excess can lead to weight gain, as is true with other nuts. Stick to the serving size of one ounce (or about 10 to 12 kernels) to enjoy the health benefits without taking in too many calories.

Drug Interactions

There are currently no known drug interactions. Be sure to discuss any medication and food interactions with your health professional.

Macadamia Nut Recipes

When buying macadamias, look for brands with no added salt or sugary seasonings.
Image Credit: Diana Taliun/iStock/GettyImages

Macadamia Nut Preparation and Useful Tips

Macadamia nuts are harvested year-round in the U.S. and can be found in raw and roasted varieties. Follow these tips to prepare, store and enjoy them as part of a healthy diet.

Opt for unseasoned varieties. Look for macadamia nuts with no added sodium, sugar or other ingredients, whether you buy them raw or dry-roasted. If you'd like to add flavor, season them with your own spices and herbs — such as chili powder, coriander or rosemary — at home.

Javelli recommends mixing crushed macadamia nuts with yogurt, coconut flakes and crushed pineapple for a tropical parfait.

Store in a cool place. The healthy oils in macadamia nuts can spoil over time, so it's best to store macadamia nuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where they'll stay fresh for up to three months, according to the Australian Macadamia Society. You can also freeze macadamia nuts for three to six months.

Add macadamia nuts to meals. Although nuts are sometimes thought of as a stand-alone snack (or in the case of macadamia nuts, part of a dessert like chocolate-covered macadamia nuts!), it's also beneficial to use nuts to balance your main meals with more satiating fiber and healthy fats, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Toss them into your morning yogurt or into a salad at lunchtime or dinner. The plant-based protein, fiber and healthy fats in macadamia nuts will leave you feeling satisfied after your meal, which is helpful for reaching or maintaining a healthy weight.

Alternatives to Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts provide healthy fats (particularly monounsaturated fats), fiber, antioxidants and essential minerals. Like all nuts, they can benefit your heart health and blood sugar levels.

It's possible to swap pecans for other tree nuts like walnuts, cashews and pistachios to enjoy many of the same health benefits. "You can use almonds or Brazil nuts for a similar texture if you're replacing macadamia nuts," Javelli says.

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