Can a food that’s 75% fat be good for you? The answer is a big (fat) yes.
Macadamia nuts have the highest fat content of any tree nut, which is only one of the many reasons they’re so good for you.
Below, you’ll learn:
- The history of macadamia nuts
- The 7 amazing benefits of macadamia nuts
- How to buy and store macadamia nuts
- Macadamia nut recipes
Macadamia nuts, like Brazil nuts, are actually a seed[*]. Native to Australia, the seeds are found in an extremely hard-shelled nut on a tropical evergreen tree. They are also referred to as the Queensland nut, Bush nut, Maroochi nut, and bauple nut[*].
There are nine species of the macadamia tree, seven of which are from Australia.
Macadamia nuts are major commercial crops of Hawaii and South Africa. They were brought to Hawaii in 1881 by the Australian William Herbert Purvis, who planted them in Kukuihaele, Hawaii.
The world’s largest manufacturer of macadamia nuts, the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation, founded their Hawaiian plantation in 1948[*].
These seeds are packed with incredible health benefits and they’re one of the best snacks on keto.
Macadamia nuts are loaded with micronutrients, offering plenty of vitamins and minerals in one serving.
They are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and are a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
If you check out their nutrition facts, you’ll find they make for a great low carb snack, with only have 4 grams of carbohydrates per serving (60% of which is fiber), making the net carb count only 1.6 grams per serving[*].
Macadamia nuts are loaded with nutrients that support your long- and short-term health.
Below, you’ll learn six ways macadamia nuts support your health and one way they support the environment.
#1: They Support Your Brain Function
The composition of macadamia nuts is between 72–75% fat, which explains their buttery texture. These fats are healthy, monounsaturated fatty acids.
One fatty acid in particular helps protect your brain: palmitoleic acid. Palmitoleic acid is an omega–7 fatty acid — incredibly rare, but incredibly healthy.
Palmitoleic acid has been shown to be a major component of myelin, the fatty, protective coating around your neurons. This protects your long-term brain health, fending off neurodegenerative diseases and mental disorders[*].
Macadamia nuts are also rich in copper and thiamin, both of which have been shown to support brain function.
Copper is needed to efficiently absorb and utilize iron, which in turn helps get oxygen to the brain[*].
#2: They Support a Healthy Heart
Nuts have long been categorized as a heart-healthy snack. A 2015 meta-analysis study showed regular nut consumption was associated with a 26% decrease in the development of cardiovascular disease[*].
Even the American Heart Association, which usually dissuades people from eating foods high in fat, published an article stating regular nut consumption significantly decreased the risk of early mortality, especially in those who ate nuts eight or more times per week[*].
The monounsaturated fatty acids in macadamia nuts make them particularly beneficial to your heart.
Palmitoleic fatty acids — the same fatty acids that protect your brain — can support a healthy heart. They have been connected to[*]:
- Cardiovascular health
- Lower triglycerides
- Lower inflammation
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced lipid levels
Another monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic fatty acid, contributes to brain health by keeping blood pressure low and decreasing the risk of stroke.[*]
#3: They Might Help You Lose Weight
Against everything you were taught to believe, high-fat snacks, like macadamia nuts, can actually aid weight loss.
One ounce of these nuts clock in at 201 calories, most of which are from healthy fats. How can such a high-caloric food help you lose weight?
For starters, the dietary fiber in macadamia nuts can help increase satiety by binding to water, making you feel full. Dietary fiber has been shown to increase feelings of satiety aiding in weight loss[*][*].
Secondly, healthy fats reduce inflammation, one of the biggest contributors to weight gain[*].
Finally, this high-fat food contains just 1.5 grams of net carbs per serving. Studies have shown that low carb diets are more effective than low fat diets for weight loss[*].
#4: They Help Prevent Disease
The healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants in macadamia nuts make them a valuable tool in disease prevention.
Healthy fats nourish the nervous system and provide previously mentioned heart health benefits.
Antioxidants prevent or reduce cell damage caused by free radicals, thereby preventing various diseases[*].
Consumption of macadamia nuts is linked to prevention of several diseases, including cancer.
A 2015 meta-analysis study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found nut consumption was linked to a lower risk of cancer-related mortality[*].
A 2010 report published in Nutrients reviewed 150 scientific studies and concluded that nut consumption was shown to have many health benefits, including, but not limited to lowering the risk of cancer[*].
#5: They Help Strengthen Bones
Tree nuts, like macadamia nuts, are rich in calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, while uncharacteristically low in sodium.
This specific combination of minerals with low-to-undetectable sodium content has been shown to prevent bone demineralization[*]. Of course, you’ll have to purchase no-salt added macadamia nuts to enjoy this benefit.
#6: They Help Fight Inflammation
Inflammation is linked to diabetes, cancer, heart disease, weight gain, and a host of other diseases. but regular nut consumption has been shown to be a great tool for fighting inflammation.
There are several reasons macadamia nuts help fight inflammation, including their fat and magnesium content.
A 2015 study with 19,386 participants showed a significant positive correlation between regular nut consumption and a decreased risk of premature mortality.
People who ate nuts eight or more times a week showed the highest reduction in inflammation biomarkers[*].
In other words, eating more nuts resulted in a lower risk of early death and inflammation levels.
#7: They Are Environmentally Sustainable
Luckily, macadamia nuts aren’t just keto friendly, they’re eco-friendly too.
Macadamia trees begin producing nuts after only five to seven years, and can produce for up to 100 years. That’s 100 years of soil being protected from erosion, nutrient depletion, and chemical bombardment.
Plus, macadamia nuts are often grown sustainably, making them a great go-to snack for eco-conscious consumers looking to replace or reduce their almond consumption.
Fortunately, macadamia nuts provide a nutritionally and environmentally sound swap.
Macadamia nuts can be eaten and purchased raw or roasted. If you’re looking for the most nutrients with least amount of additives, always choose raw macadamia nuts. You can always roast them at home.
If you’re craving roasted (and pressed for time) be sure to check the ingredients label and don’t purchase any that have been roasted in vegetable oil.
Store macadamia nuts in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, like your pantry.
Macadamia nuts freeze very well. In fact, if you’re not going to eat them in the next two to three weeks, freezing is recommended. The high-fat content, especially the monounsaturated fat, can go rancid very quickly if left at warm temperatures for too long.
Who Should Avoid Macadamia Nuts (And Why)
Macadamia nuts are high in phosphorus, making them a concern for some kidney patients. If you have kidney-related health issues, ask your healthcare provider if you can consume macadamia nuts.
Clearly, if you’re allergic to other tree nuts, avoid macadamia nuts. Always keep macadamia nuts away from your dog, as they are toxic to dogs.
Macadamia nuts do not appear to have any negative side effects for pregnant women and those with celiac disease. Macadamia nuts are naturally gluten free, but always check the label to make sure they weren’t exposed to gluten in processing.
Wondering how you can get more macadamia nuts in your diet? Give these recipes a try.
Macadamia Nut Fat Bomb
Forget guilt and enjoy your chocolate already. These chocolate bars offer up a ton of nutrition: healthy fats, magnesium, iron, protein, and flavor. Hey, flavor isn’t listed as a nutrient (yet), but maybe it’s time to start putting it under consideration. Get the recipe here.
Dry Roasted Macadamia Nuts
The simplest thing to do with macadamia nuts is roast them. From there you can eat them or add them to other recipes. They make an incredible swap for croutons on a salad.
To do so, preheat your oven to 350 F. Place whole macadamia nuts (not halves or pieces) in a single layer on an unoiled cookie sheet. The nuts have all the oil they need already.
Roast for 5–10 minutes until golden brown and the air smells divine. Remove from your oven, allow to cool, and enjoy.
Macadamia Nut Faux Cheese
If you are lactose intolerant, macadamia nuts could provide a dairy substitute. For anyone who has ventured to make their own nut cheese, the idea of making it in only five minutes seems too good to be true. Behold the magic of the macadamia nut.
Unlike dairy, there’s no need to refrigerate this nut cheese. That said, it will firm up in the fridge if that is a consistency you prefer. Get the full recipe at Minimalist Baker.com.
The Big Fat Deal About Macadamia Nuts
It’s time to recognize macadamia nuts as the nutritional powerhouse they are. As part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, macadamia nuts can help you lose weight, think clearly, maintain strong bones, and prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Forget fat phobia and throw them into your shopping cart. Fret not at the price, it’s assurance they were grown sustainably and a bit of insurance that you’ll keep your serving sizes in check.
Fact-checked by Dr. Anthony Gustin, DC, MS.
Written by Sheila Amir
Sheila Amir is an experienced health and nutrition writer. After 8 years of practice she hung up her hat as a nutritionist to help a larger audience through writing and presenting.