Macadamias are a high energy food and contain no cholesterol. The oils in macadamias contain 78 per cent mono-unsaturated fats, the highest of any oil including olive oil.
Macadamias are also a good source of protein, calcium, potassium and dietary fibre and are very low in sodium. The protein component of nuts is low in lysine and high in arginine.
Of the many benefits surrounding the Australian macadamia nut, perhaps the greatest is that they taste so good while being good for you.
A high energy food, macadamias taste great eaten raw from the shell, dry roasted, or cooked in oil. They can also be used to enhance the flavour of cakes, confectionery, ice cream, salads, roasts and casseroles. The possibilities are only limited by the imagination.
An annual residue testing program, where random samples are taken from all major processors, confirms that Australian macadamias are free of chemical residues.
PROPERTIES OF MACADAMIA NUTS
The oils in macadamia are: 84% monounsaturated, and 3.5% polyunsaturated.12.5% saturated. The monounsaturated portion contains oleic fatty acid plus the highest known level of paimitoleic fatty acid, which is also present in beneficial fish oils, and may be nutritionally significant.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are the ‘good’ fats.
They have been shown in macadamias to significantly reduce blood serum cholesterol levels, as well as enhancing the protective high-density lipoproteins and suppressing undesirable low-density lipoproteins.
The macadamia nut contains the highest level of monounsaturated fatty acids of any natural commercial food.
Macadamias contain no cholesterol. Macadamias contain no trans fatty acids. Macadamias improve the balance between omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. This facilitates the body’s manufacture of essential fatty acids and eicosanoids (prostaglandins etc).
Macadamias contain significant protein comprising essential and non-essential amino acids. These play an important body building role in muscle structure, connective tissues and blood plasma development. Macadamias contain all the essential amino acids with most of these present at optimum levels.
Most of the ‘simple’ carbohydrates are present as saccharides (sugars). Macadamias contain the sugars, sucrose, fructose, glucose and maltose, plus some starch-based material. Carbohydrates supply energy to the body. Complex carbohydrates are described as dietary fibre.
Dietary fibre is the term for carbohydrates that are resistant to enzyme digestion in the stomach. They consist of complex soluble carbohydrates and soluble fibres such as lignans, hemicellulose, amyiopectins, mucilage, gums and insoluble cellulose. Essentially dietary fibre in macadamias are the cell walls within the kernel. Dietary fibre promotes satiety, provides roughage, slows digestion and reduces hunger, promotes desirable intestinal bacteria, reduces constipation.
MINERALS & VITAMINS
Macadamias contain a large range of minerals. They are rich in: Iron, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium and Calcium. They also contain significant levels of Zinc, Copper, Selenium. The most significant vitamins are: 6 Vitamin E Thiamine (B1) Riboflavin (B2) Niacin, pantothenic acid (B5) and folate.
These are biologically active components which protect our body systems. Many act as antioxidants, which scavenge the free radicals that oxidize blood fats. They operate as part of complex systems that are only partly understood. Macadamias contain tocopherols and tocotrienols, which are derivatives of Vitamin E, phytosterols such as sitosterol and also selenium. A current research project has shown strong antioxidant activity with the compounds now being identified. It is probable that macadamias contain the phytonutrients classes, phenolic compounds, flavonoids, phytoestrogens, phytic acids, ellargic acid, saponins and lignans.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Will macadamias make us fat?
‘Good’ fats are essential in a ideal diet. They make food tasty and promote satiety. Monounsaturates may be metabolized differently in the intestine from other fats so that they do not produce ‘fattening’ biochemicals. Providing macadamias are substituted and not in addition to other foods, there is evidence that they will either not contribute to weight gain or will reduce weight. USA studies of frequent tree nut eaters show that they usually weigh less than people who don’t eat tree nuts regularly.
Will macadamias make us live forever?
No… but you will have the enjoyment of the flavour and texture of the world’s finest nut
Can we eat too many macadamias?
An abridged version of “A review of health benefits of the world’s finest nut” by Ian McConachie, September 1999.
Macadamias can form an important part of the ideal diet diet. The benefits of macadamias can not be traced to any single constituent, but to the complex composition and inter-relationships that exist. For an ideal diet they need to be eaten in conjunction with a range of foods.
Benefits are about reduction of risks. Research knowledge from other tree nuts is often applicable to macadamias, and most other tree nuts also have proven benefits. Tree nuts are an ancient food and the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid recommends them to be eaten daily.