Macadamia nuts are an extremely healthy food that should be included in most diets. They are rich in healthy fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and various vitamins and minerals. Macadamia nuts provide many health benefits, such as improving heart health, reducing inflammation, and aiding digestion. However, they are high in calories, so portion control is recommended.
Here are the nutrition facts for 1 ounce (28 grams) of raw macadamia nuts (Source: USDA):
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As you can see, macadamia nuts are very high in healthy fats, especially monounsaturated fatty acids. They also contain a good amount of manganese, thiamin, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B6, and vitamin K.
Multiple studies have found that eating macadamia nuts can improve certain heart health markers:
- Lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels (1, 2).
- Higher HDL cholesterol levels, the “good” cholesterol (2, 3).
- Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation (2, 4).
Their high monounsaturated fat content appears responsible for many of these benefits. Diets high in monounsaturated fats are linked to reduced heart disease risk factors compared to high-carb or high-polyunsaturated fat diets (5, 6).
Macadamia nuts also contain plant compounds like polyphenols, flavonoids, and phytosterols that may protect heart health (1, 7).
Blood Sugar Control
Despite their high fat content, some studies indicate that eating macadamia nuts does not adversely affect blood sugar levels:
- A diet containing macadamia nuts did not impair blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes compared to standard diets (8).
- In healthy people, macadamia nuts had a minimal effect on blood sugar and insulin levels compared to various other nuts (9).
The fat, fiber, antioxidants, and plant compounds in macadamia nuts may contribute to their negligible effects on blood sugar (1).
Other Potential Benefits
Here are some other possible health benefits of eating macadamia nuts:
- Weight loss: Despite being high in fat and calories, one study found that people who ate macadamia nuts lost about 1% of body fat in 6 weeks compared to a standard diet (10).
- Gut health: The fiber, magnesium, and polyphenols in macadamia nuts may promote digestive health and healthy gut bacteria (1).
- Bone health: The manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc content of macadamia nuts aids bone mineralization and bone formation (1).
- Anti-inflammatory effects: Macadamia nuts are rich in antioxidants like manganese, flavonoids, and saponins that may reduce inflammation (1).
However, more research is needed to confirm some of these potential benefits.
Despite their many health benefits, macadamia nuts have some downsides:
- High in calories: Macadamia nuts are one of the highest calorie nuts, with over 200 calories per ounce. This makes it easy to overeat.
- Easy to overeat: They are quite tasty and moreish, so portion control can be difficult.
- Contains phytic acid: Phytic acid can reduce absorption of some nutrients like iron, zinc, and calcium (1).
- Oxalate content: Macadamia nuts contain oxalates, which may contribute to kidney stone formation in susceptible people (11).
- Allergy risk: Tree nut allergies are common. Macadamia nuts can cause severe allergic reactions in those allergic to tree nuts.
- Fat digestibility issues: Some people report minor stomach issues like bloating, gas, or diarrhea when eating macadamia nuts and other high-fat nuts (12).
Who Should Limit Intake
Here are some people who may want to limit macadamia nut intake:
- Individuals following a low-fat or low-calorie diet.
- Those prone to kidney stones.
- People with tree nut allergies or sensitivities.
- Individuals with fat malabsorption issues.
Pregnant women should also be cautious with macadamia nuts. High consumption in pregnancy may potentially increase the risk of nut allergies in infants (13).
There are currently no official recommendations for macadamia nut intake.
Given their high calorie and fat content, a reasonable intake is around 1–1.5 ounces (28–42 grams) per day, or around 15 whole nuts.
Higher intakes, up to 3 ounces (84 grams) per day, may be fine for some people, especially athletes or those following ketogenic or high-fat diets.
Ways to Eat Macadamia Nuts
Here are some healthy and delicious ways to eat macadamia nuts:
- Raw as a snack
- Roasted with spices like cinnamon
- Added to homemade granola or trail mixes
- Included in salads for crunch
- Blended into smoothies
- Crushed and used as crust for fish or chicken
- Processed into macadamia nut butter
- Used in baked goods like cookies and muffins
Look for dry roasted or raw macadamia nuts rather than those roasted in unhealthy oils. Avoid candied varieties with added sugars.
The Bottom Line
Macadamia nuts are among the healthiest nuts available. They are loaded with healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Regular, moderate intake may boost heart health, improve blood sugar levels, aid weight loss, and protect against various diseases.
However, they are high in calories and easy to overeat. Those trying to lose weight or on a low-fat diet should limit intake. Individuals with nut allergies, kidney issues, or fat absorption problems should also be cautious.
Overall, 1–1.5 ounces (28–42 grams) per day is a reasonable intake for most healthy people.