That’s probably because macadamia nuts tend to be less common (and more $$$) in the United States — with most commercial growers in Hawaii. The macadamia tree, which is native to Australia, also grows in areas of Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
Curious whether these tree nuts are worthy of joining your snack rotation? Here are 11 reasons to eat more macadamia nuts.
What are the benefits of macadamia nuts?
Macadamia nuts are a staple for mixing into coconut granola or white chocolate chip cookies, and they offer a bunch of health benefits:
- They’re loaded with nutrients.
- They’re rich in antioxidants.
- They’re great for your heart.
- They could reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.
- They may support weight loss.
- They’re good for your gut.
- They may reduce your cancer risk.
- They could boost brain health.
- They make a healthy cooking oil…
- …that’s also beneficial for your skin.
- They’re an easy, delicious snack.
1. They’re loaded with nutrients
Like other nuts, macadamia nuts contain protein, vitamins, and minerals. But they also have a ton of healthy plant-based fat.
It’s easy to fall for the longstanding myth that all fat = bad. Macadamia nuts are an excellent source of unsaturated fats, which, when eaten instead of saturated fats, have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and other causes of premature death.
tl;dr: The fat in macadamia nuts is good for you!
Macadamia nuts also provide tiny doses of some important micronutrients:
- Manganese. This mineral is essential for energy and strong bones.
- Thiamine. Also known as vitamin B1, it helps keep your nervous system healthy.
- Copper. Your brain and immune system need it!
- Magnesium. This mineral is one of the many members of your body’s disease-fighting army.
Here’s the nutritional breakdown of just 1 ounce (28 grams) of macadamia nuts:
|Unsaturated fat||17.1 g|
|Saturated fat||3.43 g|
|Vitamin B6||0.08 mg|
2. They give your body antioxidants
3. They might give your heart a healthy boost
Heart disease is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths in the United States? Big yikes. The more you do to lower your risk, the better.
Macadamia nuts could help your heart health in three ways:
- Cholesterol reduction. Most people know that high cholesterol = high risk of heart probs. And research shows that diets rich in nuts can help dial down LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and total cholesterol.
- Heart-healthy fats. Remember how macadamia nuts are brimming with healthy unsaturated fats? Those are the same fats that have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
- Less inflammation. We need newer research with more participants to confirm this link, but a small 2007 study suggests that eating 1.5 to 3 ounces of macadamia nuts every day helps reduce inflammation, a well-known risk factor for heart disease.
4. They might dial down your risk of metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome risk factors include:
- high blood pressure
- high blood sugar
- low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- high triglycerides
- excess belly fat
Macadamia nuts to the rescue! While eating a few nuts isn’t going to eradicate metabolic syndrome, these nuggets are practically brimming with ingredients that could help reduce your risk.
The unsaturated fat in macadamia nuts could help tamp down high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and high blood sugar. Plus, nut consumption has been linked to a lower risk of obesity, a major contributor to metabolic syndrome.
5. They may support weight loss
Macadamia nuts are a pretty high calorie food. But they’re also full of protein, fat, and fiber, which help you feel full faster — and for longer. Having fewer cravings may contribute to weight loss (a benefit if that’s your goal!).
One tiny 2004 study suggests that macadamia nuts might help speed up weight loss. For 3 weeks, female Japanese college students were instructed to add macadamia nuts, coconut, or butter to their daily diets. The folks in the macadamia group lost about a pound, while the others stayed at the same weight.
Of course, this study was super short and limited, so we need more research to find out whether the same results would occur in the general population.
6. They’re good for your gut
The soluble fiber in macadamia nuts helps keep your digestive system moving and acts as a prebiotic in your belly.
Some folks with Crohn’s disease even take prebiotics to soothe their symptoms. Balancing your gut bacteria through your diet is generally a good idea if you have irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease. Just talk with your doc before taking probiotic or prebiotic supplements.
7. They might dial down your risk of cancer
Research suggests that eating nuts — especially tree nuts — may dial down your chances of getting gastric, colorectal, pancreatic, and lung cancers.
A gentle reminder: While there are oodles of studies on anticancer foods, your diet is just *one* part of a healthy lifestyle. There’s not enough evidence to say that eating a specific food (like macadamia nuts) will prevent cancer.
8. They may strengthen brain health
A handful of nuts could be as good for your brain as for your stomach.
TBH, there are no studies directly linking macadamia nuts to brain health. But some research has found an association between eating more nuts and a slower decline in brain function in older Chinese adults.
One study of Korean children and teens also found that those who noshed on nuts had faster processing speeds on a test than those who ate other snacks.
9. Makes a great cooking oil
We know extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) gets all the hype. But macadamia nut oil offers many of the same benefits — like high antioxidant content and plant-based monounsaturated fats — at a higher smoke point.
10. The oil could nourish your skin
The pale yellow oil also contains palmitoleic acid, which has been linked to improved wound healing.
11. They’re a delicious, healthy snack
The best part about macadamia nuts is their sweet, rich flavor. Their creamy texture is a close second.
Once you’ve got a stash, here’s how to eat them:
- Raw. Snack on a handful of raw macadamia nuts or use them as a topping on desserts, yogurt, or a bowl of cereal.
- Roasted. You can find macadamias oil-roasted or, if you want to limit added saturated fats, dry-roasted. They’re tasty on their own or when ground up and sprinkled on salads, soups, or savory breakfast dishes.
- Blended. You can spread macadamia nut butter just like peanut butter. Add it to your smoothie, drop a dollop on a cracker, or stir it into your bowl of oatmeal.
- Paste. Wanna get fancy? Soak the nuts overnight, grind them into a paste, and then use it to make vegan cheese or milk!
For most people and in most situations, macadamia nuts are a tasty, healthy snack. But there are a few potential issues based on prep, serving size, and possible allergens:
- Roasting them on high heat. Most folks eat macadamia nuts raw or roasted. A 2021 study found that roasted macadamia nuts actually had better nutritional quality than raw ones. This doesn’t make the raw nuts inedible — just less nutrient-dense.
- Overindulging. Macadamia nuts are packed with healthy nutrients, but they’re also packed with calories. A 1-cup serving? That’ll fuel you up with more than 900 calories. 🤯 Stick to a small handful and avoid nuts with added sugars or oils if you don’t want a giant calorie boost.
- Having a tree nut allergy. Allergic to tree nuts? Abort your macadamia nut grocery run! There are plenty of other food that offer the same health benefits. Don’t risk an allergic reaction.
Macadamia nuts are one of the richest, creamiest types of nuts on the planet. (A close second? We’re lookin’ at you, cashew!) They’re also a great source of healthy fats, antioxidants, and essential minerals.
TBH, most nuts are beneficial for heart health and blood sugar regulation. Macadamia nuts are no exception.
The best and healthiest way to enjoy macadamia nuts is raw or roasted on low heat with no added sugars, salts, or oils. These little guys are tasty enough on their own anyway. Enjoy!