For many people, macadamia nuts conjure up images of the islands of Hawaii and giant boxes full of roasted, salted, and/or chocolate-covered treats. But macadamia nuts are more than just a novelty gift you pick up while traveling to the islands. In fact, some consider macadamia nuts to be some of the healthiest nuts you can eat just like almonds and Brazil nuts.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about these interesting nuts so you can make the decision of whether or not to include them into your daily nutritional regimen.
First, let’s look at the history of macadamia nuts and why they have become so well-known. Interestingly, while Hawaii has made them famous, they actually come from Australia. In 1827, a Scottish scientist named John MacAdam emigrated to Australia and became an integral part of the health system in the city of Melbourne. His good friend at the time, a physician named Baron Ferdinand Heinrich von Mueller, who was a botanist serving as the Director of the Botanical Gardens of Melbourne, identified and classified the Macadamia tree in honor of John MacAdam. These trees were first planted in 1881 in Hawaii, brought by the Australian William Purvis, where they became extremely popular among Hawaiian residents. But they were not grown commercially until 1921. They are also major commercial crops of South Africa.
The tree itself is quite interesting too, as it is a tropical evergreen tree, just like the cashew tree. Macadamia nuts are not picked but rather harvested when the nuts have already fallen to the ground – that’s a surefire sign that they are fully ripe. On average, a macadamia tree will take seven years to begin producing nuts, and won’t get to full production of nuts until it’s around 10-12 years old. Once fully up and running, a macadamia tree can produce roughly 65 pounds of nuts each year. The shell must be cracked within 24 hours after the nuts are harvested, which is no easy task; the shells are so hard that it takes 300 pounds per square inch to break the shell. In fact, macadamia nut shells are the hardest of all nut shells!
Types of Macadamia Nuts
Also referred to as the Queensland nut, Bush nut, Maroochi nut, and Bauple nut, there are actually four different species of macadamia nuts, two of which are used for the production of nuts. Commercially, we only typically get macadamia nuts from one of these species. The lions’ share of macadamia nuts come from one variety as they were commercialized and grown en masse in Hawaii.
In stores or online, you’ll typically see a variety of options, including raw macadamia nuts, roasted and salted macadamia nuts, and even chocolate covered macadamia nuts. While the latter two serve as delicious snacks or treats, we’re going to focus on the raw macadamia nuts for the purposes of this article.
Features of Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts have some unique features that separate it from other popular kinds of nuts.
Macadamia Nuts are Loaded with Healthy Fats
Macadamia nuts have the highest fat content of any tree nut – between 72 percent and 75 percent – but the majority of these fats happen to be exceedingly healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. For example, walnuts, which are also rich in fats contain 65%, majority of which are polyunsaturated.
Macadamia Nuts Support Brain Function
Of the aforementioned fatty acids, one in particular, palmitoleic acid, is an extremely rare Omega-7 fatty acid. The significance of this palmitoleic acid is that it’s a major component of something called myelin, which is the outer protective coating of your neurons, which helps to protect brain health and combat neurodegenerative disease. In addition, macadamia nuts are high in copper and thiamine, which also support optimal brain function.
Macadamia Nuts are Heart Healthy
Nuts in general have been widely recognized as a heart-healthy snack, but the high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids present in macadamia nuts, including palmitoleic acid and oleic acid, make these buttery nuts especially good for you. In addition, macadamia nuts are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that has been shown to help balance cholesterol levels.
But not only Macadamia nuts are great for heart health. According to the Nurse’s Health Study women who started consuming peanuts lowered their heart disease risk by 34%.
Macadamia Nuts Support Healthy Bones
Macadamia nuts also contain significant amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. These minerals have been shown to support bone strength and prevent deterioration.
Macadamia Nuts Can Help You Lose Weight
You’d imagine a food so high in fat might be a no-no if you’re trying to slim down, but studies have shown a strong correlation with nut consumption and weight loss, rather than weight gain! The reason is that the high levels of dietary fiber will help you feel full, and the healthy fats have been shown to reduce inflammation, which is one of the biggest contributors to weight gain.
Macadamia Nuts Nutritional Information
A one ounce serving of macadamia nuts offers the following nutrients:
- 204 Calories
- 23 grams of fat
- 2 grams of protein
- 4 grams of carbs
- 1 gram of sugar
- 3 grams of fiber
- 58% of the DV of manganese
- 22% of the DV of thiamine
- 9% of the DV of magnesium
- 6% of the DV of iron
- 5% of the DV of vitamin B6
Interesting Facts about Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are actually seeds instead of nuts! The seeds that we eat are found inside of a hard-shelled nut.
Macadamia nut oil, becoming popular in health food cooking, features a very high smoke point, which means the fat content does not oxidize or become degraded when cooking at high temperatures.
If you don’t have macadamia nuts in your nut rotation, consider adding them. They’re incredibly nutrient-dense, versatile, and delicious! And at Nutstop, we’ve got the best prices on high-quality macadamia nuts you can find just about anywhere. Pick up some raw macadamia nuts to boost your health, or if you’re looking for an amazing indulgent treat, try our chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Your belly will thank us.