All too often consumers confuse price with quality. As macadamia nuts are more expensive than cashews and almonds, they must be really healthy, right? Well, it is not that simple.
Although a large share of macadamia nuts sold in the US comes from Hawaii, these nuts are actually native to Australia and are also grown in such countries as South Africa, Brazil, and Israel. Macadamia trees need a lot of water and do not produce large quantities of nuts until they are 7-10 years old. The trees are also susceptible to various root diseases and sometimes are blown down in storms; thus, as they are not the easiest plants to grow, their nuts cannot be called inexpensive.
Macadamia nuts are crunchy and can be eaten raw or roasted; they are also great in pastries, bread, cookies, and salads. When it comes to nutritional qualities, macadamia nuts are very rich in dietary fiber that is good for your intestines, vitamin B1 and such minerals as manganese, copper, magnesium and iron. These nuts also contain substantial quantities of protein (however, both almonds and cashews are much better protein sources) and are low in carbohydrates.
On the downside, macadamia nuts have high-calorie content and are loaded with copious amounts of fat. 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of macadamia nuts contain 117% of the recommended daily allowance of fat and more than a third of the recommended calorie intake. There is even a joke that ‘macadamia nuts are so good that they are actually bad’.
You must also remember that roasted macadamia nuts contain lower amounts of vitamins if compared with raw nuts. Roasted nuts are often eaten with salt which might increase your blood pressure.
Some scientists, however, argue that you should not totally avoid macadamia nuts in your diet. They point out that monounsaturated fats constitute more than 75% of the total amount of fat in macadamia nuts, and monounsaturated fats are actually good for the cardiovascular system. Foods that are rich in monounsaturated fats are known to lower harmful (LDL) cholesterol and increase good (HDL) cholesterol. Macadamia nuts are a rare food that contains high quantities of omega-7 palmitoleic acid that fastens fat metabolism. These nuts are also high in canola oil that is reported to reduce cholesterol level and oleic acid that is good for your general health as well as nervous system.
However, even if consuming moderate amounts of macadamia nuts is not likely to negatively affect your LDL cholesterol level, they still contain too many calories that you need to burn off if you want to keep your weight down. As always, physical exercise keeps you fit and helps to get rid of unnecessary calories.
To sum up, a handful of macadamia nuts once or twice a week probably won’t lead to a weight problem and might be even good for your health. However, if you are interested in protein, it is better to decide on cashews and almonds: they crunch just as well, and, what’s more, they are cheaper.