Afraid of fatty foods? The macadamia nut is one reason you shouldn’t be. If anything, one thing that macadamia nuts can teach us is that certain fats are about the healthiest nutrient we can eat. How can a food that is nearly 80% fat content be healthy for you, you ask?
Read on as this article takes a deep dive into the history, benefits, and science behind one of nature’s most nutritious foods and why it belongs in your keto diet.
What Are Macadamia Nuts?
In short, macadamia nuts are a nutrient powerhouse. They are the most fat-dense of all tree nuts, which is the very reason they are so healthy (especially for those who are in ketosis and “fat-adapted”).
Consuming macadamia nuts regularly is associated with a myriad of beneficial effects in humans, including less risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Even in short-term scenarios, macadamia nut consumption has been shown to increase weight loss and improve skin health.
Pretty crazy, isn’t it? You’re probably ready to stop reading this article already and go buy some macadamias, but not so fast! There’s much more to divulge about this unique nut.
Before you get all caught up in how seemingly amazing macadamia nuts for human health, be aware: Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and should be kept away from your fur baby at all times.
With that word of caution out of the way, let’s take a look at the curious history of the macadamia nut.
History of Macadamia Nuts
The leading producer of macadamia nuts (globally) is South Africa, although many people associate the macadamia nut with Hawaii. In fact, macadamia nuts are commonly referred to as the Mauna Loa nut or even the Hawaii nut.
Mauna Loa is a macadamia nut farm so-named because of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii. Interestingly enough, macadamia nuts were originally produced in Australia over a century ago and were eventually transplanted to Hawaii in the early 1880s.
In fact, the term “macadamia” came to be in the mid-1800s when a botanist from Australia – Ferdinand von Mueller – dubbed the nut after his friend/chemist John Macadam.
Nutrient Breakdown of Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (just like avocados). This is arguably the most important feature of macadamia nuts and why they are so healthy for humans.
Macadamia nuts are also high in key vitamins and minerals, especially manganese and thiamine (vitamin B1).
Moreover, macadamia nuts are ideal for those on the keto diet, since they only contain a mere 1.5 grams of net carbs per one ounce portion.
If you’re in need of a satisfying, fat-rich snack that you can grab and go, macadamia nuts are about the best option.
Here’s the nutrient breakdown for a one-ounce serving of raw macadamia nuts (roughly 10-12 nuts):
- 202 Calories
- 4 g Carbohydrate
- 2.5 g Fiber
- 1.5 g Net Carbohydrate
- 21.2 g Fat
- 2.2 g Protein
- 0.1 mg Vitamin B6 (4% DV)
- 0.3 mg Vitamin B1 (22% DV)
- 23.8 mg Calcium (2% DV)
- 0.2 mg Copper (11% DV)
- 36.4 mg Magnesium (9% DV)
- 1.2 mg Manganese (58% DV)
- 103 mg Potassium (3% DV)
- 1.0 mg Iron (6% DV)
- 1.0 mcg Selenium (1% DV)
Still curious how macadamia nuts can actually benefit your health? Let’s take a look at what science has to say.
5 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Macadamia Nuts
The perpetual fear of fats that many people have has given macadamia nuts a bad reputation; ironically, macadamias are ostensibly one of the healthiest foods you can eat.
Not convinced that’s the case? Here are three research-based findings of macadamia nuts that might change your mind:
- Macadamia nuts contain a rare omega-7 unsaturated fatty acid known as palmitoleic acid. This particular essential fatty acid has been shown to have beneficial actions on blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity type-II diabetics.
- A recent study published in the American Heart Association’s Journal showed that routine macadamia nut consumption significantly reduced the risk of all-cause mortality, particularly in people who ate macadamias 8+ times weekly.
- A meta-analysis conducted in 2015 revealed that routine macadamia nut consumption was associated with a 26% reduction in the risk of developing CVD. (CVD is currently the leading cause of death in the United States.)
Macadamia nuts are loaded with nutrients that support both long-term and short-term health — everything from a flawless complexion to staving off heart disease.
Here are five primary health benefits of eating macadamia nuts regularly; suffice to say, these benefits should ease any qualm you may have about high-fat foods. Naturally, we encourage you to make macadamia nuts a staple in your keto diet.
#1: Macadamia Nuts Support Weight Loss
Macadamia nuts contain soluble dietary fiber which binds to water in the stomach and promotes satiety. There is a bounty of literature and research supporting the weight loss benefits of dietary fiber (especially soluble fiber).
Dietary fiber has been shown to increase feelings of satiety aiding in weight loss.
But that’s not the only reason macadamia nuts support weight loss. Despite being loaded with fat, macadamia nuts can actually help you lose fat by reducing inflammation and promoting a sense of fullness.
Remember, fats are very satiating nutrients (especially monounsaturated fatty acids).
Ultimately, eating a few servings of macadamia nuts each day will help you eat less overall; the end result of being in a calorie deficit is weight loss. Voila!
#2: Macadamia Nuts Enhance Cognitive Function
Macadamia nuts are upwards of 80% fat content, primarily in the form of monounsaturated fatty acids. Fats are integral to healthy brain function, primarily by encouraging healthy cell membrane phospholipid production.
This is just one way the fats in macadamia nuts can preserve neuron integrity.
A specific fatty acid in macadamia nuts that can support healthy cognitive function is oleic acid. Oleic acid is shown in research to reduce blood pressure and the risk of stroke, both of which promote brain health.
In fact, the Mediterranean diet is thought to be healthy in part because it contains a generous amount of olive oil – which is rich in oleic acid as well.
Even better, there’s another special fatty acid in macadamia nuts that many people lack in their diet – palmitoleic acid (an omega-7 essential fatty acid).
Omega-3 fatty acids tend to get the most attention from health enthusiasts, but omega-7s are also exceptionally healthy for humans.
Macadamia nuts are one nature’s richest sources of palmitoleic acid, which has been shown to increase myelination of neurons in the brain. In simpler terms, palmitoleic acid provides neurons with one of the substrates necessary their integrity and long-term function.
Last but not least, macadamia nuts contain high amounts of both thiamine (vitamin B1) and copper.
These particular micronutrients play a variety of roles throughout the brain. For example, copper is necessary for your brain to absorb and use iron; iron, in turn, helps your brain get the necessary oxygen it needs to function properly.
Thiamine (vitamin B1) is necessary for converting carbs into usable energy. While this may not seem directly applicable to those on the keto diet, thiamine can in fact still boost cognitive function by providing energy to the brain.
#3: Macadamia Nuts Improve Heart Health
Those monounsaturated fats we just talked about are also fantastic nutrients for your cardiovascular system. Research shows that increasing intake of monounsaturated fats can significantly reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and total blood triglycerides.
Monounsaturated fats in macadamia nuts also help support the fluid nature of cell membranes, which means better blood flow through veins and arteries (and better blood pressure).
Furthermore, research has shown that the palmitoleic fatty acid in macadamia nuts – a type of omega-7 fatty acid – has anti-inflammatory and lipid-reducing properties in the body.
Further research published in 2017 revealed that palmitoleic fatty acid has beneficial effects on blood glucose regulation and insulin sensitivity in those affected by type-II diabetes.
#4: Macadamia Nuts Reduce the Risk of Disease (Especially Heart Disease)
The potent nutrient profile of macadamia nuts makes them one heck of a disease-preventing food. Macadamia nuts contain ample amounts of healthy fats, dietary fiber, and antioxidant micronutrients, which have been shown to:
- Reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol
- Enhance blood glucose regulation and insulin sensitivity
- Fight inflammation throughout the body
- Improve blood pressure and vascular function
- Support detoxification of the body
In fact, the nutrients in macadamia nuts appear to reduce the risk of multiple forms of cancer, including colon, prostate, and breast cancers. as well as lower the risk of breast, mouth, throat, esophageal, colon and prostate cancer.
A 2012 research review published in Nutrition Research found that routine nut consumption is associated with reduced risks of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Another meta-analysis found that increased tree nut consumption significantly lowered risk factors for CVD and metabolic syndrome. Even more, tree nut consumption was associated with a 25% less risk of developing obesity and 23% less risk of being overweight.
Equally as compelling is a research review published in Nutrients that included over 140 studies; the authors concluded that regular nut consumption has a myriad of health benefits, including, but not limited to, reducing the risks of cancer and CVD.
#5: Macadamia Nuts Decrease Inflammation
Excessive inflammation is more or less the underlying cause of myriad life-threatening conditions, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and much more. When inflammation is left uncontrolled, the risk of experiencing disease increases significantly.
The good news is that macadamia nuts can drastically reduce inflammation.
In fact, a contemporary large-scale investigation of over 19,000 individuals found a sharp positive correlation between those regularly consumed nuts and lifespan.
Moreover, those who consumed nuts at least eight times per week had the lowest amounts of inflammatory biomarkers.
As such, you should aim to consume at least one one-ounce portion of macadamia nuts daily (regardless if you’re on the keto diet or not).
Storing Macadamia Nuts
It is best to store your macadamia nuts in a sealed container and keep them in a dry, cool place. Macadamias are also great for freezing if you don’t plan on using in the immediate week or two after you purchase them.
After 2-3 weeks at room temperature, the monounsaturated fats in macadamia nuts are prone to oxidizing, which can make them go rancid.
Who Should Avoid Macadamia Nuts (And Why)
If you have pre-existing renal impairment, you’ll want to monitor or completely avoid intake of macadamia nuts due to their high phosphorus content. When in doubt, consult your primary care physician to ensure that macadamia nuts are safe for you to eat.
In moderate amounts, macadamia nuts are safe for pregnant women. There is no extant research that we aware of investigating the health effects of excessive nut consumption in pregnant women.
You should absolutely avoid macadamia nuts if you have a tree nut allergy. Always check food labels to make sure it doesn’t contain tree nuts if you’re allergic.
Also, macadamia nuts are not dog-friendly and should be stored in a place where your furry companion can’t reach them.
If you have a gluten allergy, macadamia nuts are A-ok. (However, be sure to read food labels of macadamia nut products to make sure they are not produced on equipment that processes gluten.)
Macadamia Nut Recipes Worth Trying
Here are some of our top picks for quick and easy macadamia nut recipes for the keto diet.
Simple Dry-Roasted Macadamia Nuts
The most basic (yet satisfying) way to make your macadamia nuts a little more crunchy and tasty is to dry-roast them in the oven. It takes all but 20 minutes to finish and will leave you with a fantastic keto snack for any time of the day.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Assort macadamia nuts in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. (You don’t need oil or grease as the nuts already have plenty of fat to keep them from sticking.)
- Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes (or until golden brown, and your mouth is watering).
- Remove from oven and let cool, then enjoy!
Keto Macadamia Nut Brownies
By now, we hope you’re over the fat-phobia, especially after learning about how healthy macadamia nuts can be. These chocolate brownies may seem like the ultimate guilt-inducing food at first glance, but they are actually quite healthy (and keto-friendly).
Live life a little and enjoy these nutritious brownies packed with macadamia nuts, coconut, almond, cocoa, butter, and more! It’s safe to say these are just as good for your body as they are for your taste buds.
- ¾ cup almond flour
- ¾ cup macadamia nuts
- ¾ cup erythritol
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 2 large eggs
- 5 tablespoons salted butter (softened)
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix butter, coconut oil, and erythritol together.
- Whisk two large eggs into the coconut-butter mixture.
- Slowly add remaining dry ingredients (except macadamia nuts) into the mixture; ensure that everything is thoroughly mixed.
- Add 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts and mix thoroughly.
- Spread batter into a brownie pan and top with the remainder of the macadamia nuts. Press the nuts into the batter slightly.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool for at least 20 minutes.
Still Afraid of Macadamia Nuts Due to Their Fat Content? Don’t Be!
If you have a fear of fats or apprehension about eating macadamia nuts, we assure you that there is nothing to be afraid of. Macadamia nuts are indubitably healthy, and there is a vast body of literature supporting their benefits.
If you’re on the keto diet (or even a higher-carb diet), make the smart choice and include macadamia nuts on your grocery shopping list.
They also have a rather neutral taste and can be added to many recipes without you even knowing their an ingredient. Moreover, when you store them properly, they will last for months.
Ultimately, in conjunction with your healthy low-carb diet and lifestyle, the macadamia nut will help you trim weight off, function better mentally, and drastically reduce your risk of life-threatening diseases. There really is no better source of heart-healthy fats (although, the avocado might disagree).