Sweet, delicious and flavorful macadamia nut is one of the lovely edible nuts packed with important health-benefiting nutrients. Botanically, macadamia belongs to the family of Proteaceae, in the genus: Macadamia. Some of the common names include Australia nut, Queensland nut, bush nut, etc.
Scientific name: Macadamia integrifolia.
Macadamia is native to the East Coast rainforests of North Eastern parts of Australia. Several regions of mineral rich, tropical and subtropical areas of Australia, Hawaiian Islands, Middle Americas, Brazil and South African parts grow these sweet and crunchy nuts in abundance.
Macadamia tree reaches to about 15 meters in height. In general, it achieves maturity and begins to produce fruit at around the 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 beautiful creamy-white flowers in racemes, which subsequently develop into tough shelled, round 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 a husk enveloping around the single kernel. Inside, a white edible kernel features smooth buttery surface and sweet taste.
Health benefits of Macadamia nuts
- Macadamia nuts are a rich source of energy. 100 g of nuts provide about 718 calorie/100 g, which is one of the highest calorific values for the seeds and kernels.
- They packed with many 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 an excellent source of phytosterols such as ß-sitosterol. Besides, they carry no cholesterol.
- Since macadamia is free from gluten protein; it is one of the popular ingredients preferred in the gluten-free food formula preparations. Such formula preparations are a healthy alternative in patients with the wheat gluten allergy and celiac disease. .
- The nuts are rich source of monounsaturated fatty (MUFA) 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 trace element and an essential antioxidant cofactor for the 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. These fat-soluble vitamins are potent antioxidants and help protect cell membranes and DNA damage from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
In short, sweet, refreshing macadamias provide essential minerals, vitamins, and heart-friendly monounsaturated fatty acids.