Health

REVIEW OF HEALTH BENEFITS

Can we eat too many Macadamias?
A REVIEW OF HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE WORLD’€™S FINEST NUT Ian McConachie/1999

MACADAMIAS

form an important part of a healthy diet. The health 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. A diet containing macadamias promotes good health, longevity and reduction of degenerative diseases. Health 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 health benefits. Tree nuts are an ancient food and the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid recommends them to be eaten daily.

Dietary studies with tree nuts including macadamia trials have shown reduction of risk areas such as:

  • Cardio-vascular Diseases
  • Anti-inflammatory Diseases
  • Anti-aggregatory Diseases
  • Immuno Modulating Systems Current Australian Macadamia Society research projects are:

firstly a dietary trial to measure reduction of risk of heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, cancers and related diseases, a project to determine the antioxidant present and their activity; secondly a project to investigate the effect of macadamias in protecting the brachial arterial walls, which are associated with a reduction of arteriosclerosis. Macadamias are not genetically modified and only contains natural genes.

MACADAMIAS

Dried, Raw or Roasted typically contain:

  • LIPIDS (Oils) 75.0%
  • MOISTURE 1.5%
  • PROTEIN 9.4%
  • CARBOHYDRATE (Sugars) 4.8%
  • DIETARY FIBRE 7.7%
  • MINERAL MATTER 1.6%
  • Plus Vitamins and Phytonutrients
  • ENERGY VALUE 3030 Kilojoules per 100g (727 calories per 100g)

OILS

The oils in macadamia are: 12.5% Saturated 84% Monounsaturated 3.5% Polyunsaturated. The monounsatu-rated portion contains oleic fatty acid plus the highest known level of palmitoleic fatty acid, which is also present in beneficial fish oils, and may be nutritionally significant.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are the ‘€˜good’€™ fats, and 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. Cholesterol and lipoprotein levels are indicators to the risk of heart disease. 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.).

PROTEIN

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.

CARBOHYDRATES

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

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, amylopectins, mucilage, gums and insoluble cellulose. Essentially dietary fibre in macadamias are the cell walls within the kernel. As dietary fibre is better defined and understood, it is becoming more important in human health. Dietary fibre promotes satiety, provides roughage, slows digestion and reduces hunger, promotes desirable intestinal bacteria, reduces constipation and diverticular diseases, reduces haemorrhoids, bowel cancer and irritable bowel syndrome. It functions in conjunction with the monounsaturated oils, minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients, and plays a role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes.

VITAMINS AND MINERALS

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 and Selenium. The most significant vitamins are: Vitamin E, Thiamine (B1) Riboflavin (B2) and Niacin. Also Pantothenic Acid (B5) and Folate.

PHYTONUTRIENTS

PHYTOCHEMICALS

These are biologically active components that are protectants of 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. They also reduce risk of cancer, boost our immune systems, reduce gene damage and slow the ageing process. 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.

WILL MACADAMIAS MAKE US FAT ?

‘Good’€™ fats are essential in a healthy 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 control patients.

WILL MACADAMIAS MAKE US LIVE FOREVER?

Probably not . . . but you should live longer and enjoy better health . . . PLUS you will have the enjoyment of the flavour and texture of the world’s finest nut !!

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