Macadamia nuts are an internationally popular delicacy grown in the tropical climates of Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Hawai’i plants macadamia trees extensively as a harvest crop. With more than seven varieties, including the popular Macadamia integrifolia and Macadamia tetraphylla, this delicious nut is packed with nutrition.
Here are the seven health benefits of macadamia nuts.
1. Macadamia nuts could be good for your heart.
Researchers from Pennsylvania State University published a study in the Journal of Nutrition to investigate the health effects of macadamia nuts on the heart. Twenty-five men and women with mild hypercholesterolemia, or high blood cholesterol levels, participated in the study. The researchers assigned the participants into one of the two experimental diets during the first 5-week period and then switched diets for the next 5-week period, which was separated by an approximate 2-week agreed on break, during which the participants ate their usual diet.
The participants in macadamia nut-rich group (MAC) ate approximately 1.5 ounces of macadamia nuts per day based on the FDA Qualified Health Claim. The average American diet (AAD) group ate a typical American diet modeled from the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals and NHANES database. The diets matched in total fat, protein, and carbohydrate profile.
Results showed that the inclusion of macadamia nuts to your diet could lower your total cholesterol and low-density cholesterol (LDL) levels, also known as “bad” cholesterol. Having too high levels of LDL can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries, leading to heart disease or stroke.
2. Macadamia nuts can help improve the blood sugar levels for people with type 2 diabetes.
Published in the journal PLOS One, a meta-analysis of 450 patients in 11 randomized trials in five countries reviewed the health effects tree nuts, including macadamia nuts, have on your blood sugar levels. The study revealed that the participants who ate a median of 56 grams per day or 1.98 ounces of tree nuts over a median time of eight weeks had lower HbA1c levels. Doctors measure HbA1c levels to understand the average blood sugar levels over a period of weeks to months.
Macadamia nuts are high in monounsaturated fats, some of which can help individuals with type 2 diabetes. Seventeen percent of the total fat in macadamia nuts is comprised of omega-7 palmitoleic acid. It is present in all tissues in the body, but more is found in the liver. Omega-7 palmitoleic acid has been able to increase insulin sensitivity by suppressing inflammation and inhibit the destruction of pancreatic beta cells, the cells that create insulin.
3. Macadamia nuts may help individuals reduce chronic inflammation and arthritis symptoms.
Research published in the Pharmacognosy Magazine investigated the variety of herbal medicines used in Australian traditional medicinal systems to treat rheumatoid arthritis. One hundred and six extracts from 40 plant species were examined for the ability to block the growth of the bacterial trigger of rheumatoid arthritis (Proteus mirabilis), one of which was Macadamia integriflora nut. The study found that the phenolic compounds in the extracts including the macadamia nut inhibited the growth of Proteus mirabilis, thus blocking the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.
4. Macadamia nuts could help you maintain a healthy blood pressure.
High blood pressure or hypertension is a chronic medical term in which the blood pressure in the arteries is consistently elevated. The condition is a risk factor for other diseases like coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, vision loss, and chronic kidney disease. Approximately 90 percent to 95 percent of high blood pressure cases are primary and are a result of lifestyle choices and genetics. Some lifestyle choices include excess body weight, smoking, alcohol, and an excessive consumption of salt.
Diets like the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, also known as DASH, has shown to reduce blood pressure by decreasing the sodium intake and increasing the potassium intake with fruits and vegetables. The American Heart Association recommends 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day for the average adult. Macadamia nuts have virtually no sodium and are rich in potassium content, possibly helping people manage their blood pressure levels.
Also, macadamia nuts contain a generous amount of a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid called oleic acid. A diet high in oleic acid for four weeks has been linked to a reduced blood pressure. Another study published in the journal of PNAS found oleic acid to be responsible for reducing blood pressure by regulating the activity of adrenoreceptor signaling pathways which direct the adrenergic receptors (α- and β-adrenoceptors).
5. Macadamia nuts could help you burn fat.
Research published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry found that oleic acid could increase the expression of genes that are involved with burning fat making your body more efficient at using fat as a source of fuel.
6. Macadamia nuts could help keep bones strong and sturdy.
Macadamia nuts are full of vitamins and minerals that help keep your bones strong like phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and calcium. All of these minerals are vital in bone and teeth mineralization as well as the absorption of nutrients. Calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus are needed to support an increase in bone mass. Manganese helps the body deposit new bone tissue where needed.
7. Macadamia nuts can help support your gut.
Your stomach, also known as the “second brain,” is essential to your daily function. Macadamia nuts contain both soluble and insoluble fiber that helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and remove toxins from the body.
The oleic acid content in macadamia nuts may help prevent ulcerative colitis. When researchers participants who consumed daily oleic acid versus those who did not, they found that those who did consume daily oleic acid were 89 percent less likely to have ulcerative colitis.