A fantastic article by Dr. Axe about the benefits of Macadamia Nuts!
While almonds may be America’s most popular nut, no one can deny the delicious appeal of macadamia nuts. (1) This is a good thing, because just like almonds nutrition, macadamia nutrition packs a potent punch.
Macadamia nuts are amazing little nutrient-filled powerhouses that come from the macadamia tree. They contain some important essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, iron, B vitamins, manganese and folate, as well as protein, healthy fats and antioxidants. These remarkable nutrients are what give these incredible nuts their plentiful benefits. What benefits? I’m glad you asked.
Benefits of Macadamia Nuts
1. Good for the Heart
Macadamia nuts contain healthy fats that can help keep the arteries in good heart-health condition. Because they’re rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, they help reduce cholesterol levels and lower triglycerides, a type of body fat. When we lower body fat, we can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
In a study conducted by the Pennsylvania State University Department of Nutritional Sciences and published in the Journal of Nutrition, some subjects were randomly given macadamia nuts and compared to those who were fed a standard American diet. Over the course of the the study, those who consumed macadamia nuts saw reduced cholesterol levels and overall healthier heart markers. Because macadamia nuts are a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, they help reduce the risks of lipid/lipoprotein cardiovascular disease risk factors. (2)
2. Fight Disease
The macadamia contains flavonoids that help to prevent cell damage by protecting cells from environmental toxins. Once these phenomenal flavonoids are in the body, they convert into antioxidants, which is where the power comes into play. Antioxidants have this great job of finding the free radicals in our bodies and destroying them. This is how we protect our bodies from disease.
Study observations from the Antioxidants Research Lab at Tuft’s University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging “suggest nut consumption is inversely associated with the incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer.” In addition to being nutrient-dense, the numerous phytonutrients they contain provide positive health benefits. The phenolic acids, flavonoids and stilbenes help provide useful antioxidants that can fight diseases like cancer. (3) That’s why nuts — including macadamia — are some of the best cancer-fighting foods you can consume.
3. Aid in Weight Loss
The good fat content can actually help curb your appetite. Not only that, but macadamias contain palmitoleic acid. Palmitoleic acid has the ability to increase fat metabolism, which in turn reduces fat storage. Macadamias contain a nice balance of nutrients and fats, helping you feel satisfied with only a few of them.
In addition, macadamia nuts contain beneficial dietary fibers that can help you achieve satiety and contain complex carbohydrates like lignans, hemicellulose, amylopectins, mucilage, gums and insoluble cellulose that assist with digestive problems while reducing those nagging hunger pangs. There’s even evidence that nuts like macadamia may have positive effects on preventing metabolic syndrome, though more research is needed to validate this belief. (4)
4. Support the Gut
Containing both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, the macadamia helps you feel full while removing toxins from the body and assisting in good digestion. As a copper-rich food, the macadamia nut helps with the efficient utilization of iron and aids in proper enzymatic reactions. (5)
5. Strengthen Bones
Macadamia nuts are plentiful in phosphorus, manganese and magnesium, all of which aid in bone and teeth mineralization and the transportation and absorption of nutrients.
We know that calcium helps in the formation of teeth and bones, while manganese helps the body deposit new bone tissue where needed so the bones remain strong as you get older. Another important fact is that kidney disease affects the body’s ability to absorb calcium and manganese, which can lead to bone disease. The manganese found in macadamia nuts can really help keep your bones strong and fight kidney disease at the same time. (6)
6. Keep the Brain and Nervous System on Point
The copper, vitamin B1, magnesium and manganese found in macadamia nuts help make healthy neurotransmitters, which are those important chemicals that our brain cells need to send signals to the brain. Macadamia nuts are also high in oleic acid, which aids in brain health, and they contain palmitoleic acid, which helps protect nerve cells in the brain — therefore contributing to healthy brain function. (7)
In addition, macadamias contain omega-9, and as we know, omega-9 benefits the brain in many ways. For starters, it can help improve mood, an obvious function of the brain. In addition, it can help improve memory and stave off neurological diseases. For instance, memory performance in normal naïve mice was tested in a study published inPharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, showing that erucic acid may be a therapeutic agent for diseases associated with cognitive deficits, such as Alzheimer’s disease. (8) This means you can add memory enhancement and improved cognitive function to the list of omega-9 benefits — and the benefits of macadamia nuts.
7. Reduce Chronic Inflammation and Arthritis Symptoms
The omega-6 fatty acids can provide some nutritional benefits, but most consume way too much of it. When we have too many omega-6 fatty acids, it can cause and increase chronic inflammation in the body. That’s problematic because we know inflammation is at the root of most diseases, such as arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more.
A study published in Pharmacognosy Magazine sought to test the ability of a panel of Australian plants, including the macadamia, with a history of treating rheumatoid arthritis, concluding that it was beneficial. Researchers noted that the “low toxicity of these extracts and their inhibitory bioactivity against Proteus spp. indicate their potential in blocking the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.” (9) That means the macadamia is a nice addition to any arthritis diet treatment plan.
Most nuts have ways more omega-6s than omega-3s, but the macadamia nuts are lower in omega-6s. That doesn’t mean you should overdo it, but by watching your intake of omega-6 fatty acids and having a few macadamia nuts each week, you can get added protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals in your diet without adding too much inflammation-causing omega-6s. To give you an idea of the differences, pecans contain 3.7 grams of omega-6 per 100 grams, almonds 3.4 grams and cashews 2.2 grams compared to macadamia coming in at 0.36 gram.
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