Sweet, delicious and flavorful macadamia nut is one of the popular edible nuts packed with notable health-benefiting nutrients. Botanically, macadamia belongs to the family of Proteaceae, in the genus: Macadamia. Some of common names include Australia nut, Queensland nut, bush nut, etc.
Macadamia is native to the East Coast rainforest of North Eastern parts of Australia. Several parts of mineral rich, tropical and subtropical areas of Australia, Hawaiian Islands, Middle Americas, Brazil and South African regions are favorite regions where these sweet and crunchy nuts grow in abundance.
Macadamia tree reaches to about 15 meters in height. In general, it achieves maturity and begins to produce fruit at around the age of seventh year of plantation.
There are at least about seven species of macadamia grown in their wild natural habitat. However, only two of which are edible and cultivated in the horticulture farms around the world. Macadamia integrifolia produces smooth-shelled nuts, whereas Macadamia tetraphylla has nuts with a rough shell.
During each summer, the tree bears elongated chains of attractive cream-white colored flower racemes, which subsequently develop into tough shelled, round to spherical shaped fruits with a conical tip. Depending upon the cultivar type its shell may possess smooth or rough outer surface. Each fruit features 0.5 to 1 inch in diameter consisting of husk enveloping around a single kernel. Inside, the edible kernel is white, has smooth buttery surface and sweet taste.
Health benefits of Macadamia nuts
Macadamia nuts have sweet taste and are rich source of energy. 100g of nuts provide about 718 calorie/ 100g, which is one of the highest calorific values among nuts.
These nuts are packed with numerous health-benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for optimum health and wellness.
100 g of macadamia provides 8.6 g or 23% of daily-recommended levels of dietary fiber. Additionally, they are a very good source of phytosterols such as ß-sitosterol. However, the nuts carry no cholesterol.
Since macadamia is free from gluten, it is one of the popular ingredients in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas. Such formula preparations are a healthy alternative in patients with wheat gluten allergy and celiac disease.
The nuts are rich source of mono-unsaturated fatty (MUF) like oleic acid (18:1) and palmitoleic acids (16:1). Studies suggest that MUF fats in the diet help lower total as well as LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the blood. The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fiber, MUF fats and antioxidants work favorably in maintaining healthy blood lipid profile and thus offer protection from coronary artery disease and strokes.
Macadamias are an excellent source of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc. 100 g nuts provide 3.6 µg of selenium. Selenium is a cardio-protective micro-mineral and an important anti-oxidant cofactor for glutathione peroxidase enzyme.
Furthermore, the nuts are also rich in many important B-complex vitamins that are vital for metabolic functions. 100 g of nuts provide 15% of niacin, 21% of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), 100% of thiamin, and 12% of riboflavin.
They contain small amounts of vitamin-A, and vitamin E. Both these fat-soluble vitamins possess potent anti-oxidant activities, which serve to protect cell membranes and DNA damage from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
In concise, sweet, refreshing macadamias brimming with essential minerals, vitamins and heart-friendly mono-unsaturated fatty acids.