Nuts are a healthy addition to any balanced diet. They are a great high-protein, calorically-dense snack rich in vitamins, minerals, flavanoids and other important nutrients. Yes, these creamy, crunchy, luxuriously delicious nuts, are in fact healthier than you might think. Macadamia nuts contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals – see the table below. Just a handful (30g) of macadamias (15 whole or 30 halves) provides you with:
- 1/3 of your daily thiamine (vitamin B1), an important vitamin for releasing the energy from food, and necessary for normal functioning of the heart and nervous system
- ¼ of your daily manganese, a trace element important for antioxidant defences, bone health and normal metabolism.
- 12% of your daily magnesium for electrolyte balance, nerve and muscle function and bone strength.
- 9% of your daily iron for healthy blood and energy levels
- 8% of your daily niacin for a healthy nervous system, releasing energy from food and good skin structure and function
- 8% of your daily copper for antioxidant protection, immune system function and healthy looking skin and hair.
- Macadamias pack a serious punch when it comes to essential nutrients.
Antioxidants to protect the body
As a plant food straight from nature, macadamias naturally contain phytochemicals including antioxidants. In addition, many of the vitamins and minerals in macadamias also have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are part of your body’s natural defence system and they work by de-activating potentially harmful substances called free radicals that damage cells and are thought to contribute to the development of chronic disease. The damage is known as ‘oxidative stress’ and eating macadamias daily has been shown to reduce oxidative stress when measured under scientific conditions. Macadamias also contain the antioxidant minerals manganese, magnesium and copper. All these helpful substances act as your own private internal army working to maintain your wellbeing.
Macadamias naturally contain plant sterols. Plant sterols help reduce cholesterol absorption in the body. Plant sterols combined with monounsaturated oils, fibre and phytochemicals all add up to make macadamias are super-food for your heart.
Macadamias look after your heart
Macadamias contain a healthy combination of nutrients known to protect the heart, so every handful is doing you good. Firstly, the oil in macadamias is the good unsaturated kind, and unsaturated fats help maintain ideal cholesterol levels. They also contain an amino acid called arginine (amino acids are building blocks of protein), which helps to keep blood vessels relaxed and flexible. It is no wonder macadamias have earned the right to use the ‘Heart Foundations Tick’.
Macadamia nuts are one of the very few plants that contain palmitoleic acid, also known as omega 7, a monounsaturated fatty acid that works to lower your cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart disease. Some studies have also suggested that palmitoleic acid may also affect your body's metabolism, curbing your appetite and helping you burn fat faster--which means that those high-fat macadamia nuts could be an all-natural diet food! Palmitoleic acid is also important for skin health.
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid with a wide range of benefits. Regular consumption of omega-3s will help lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis and will help prevent or reduce the severity of arthritis, menstrual cramps and migraine headaches. Omega-3s are also essential for a healthy nervous system, and may help relieve depression.
Contrary to popular belief, nuts are not especially fattening. In fact studies have shown including nuts in a healthy kilojoule-controlled eating plan can actually help with weight loss. This is probably because nuts are satisfying and don’t increase blood glucose and insulin levels that can trigger hunger.
Macadamias contain healthy unsaturated oils, fibre and small amounts of plant sterols. These nutrients help maintain good cholesterol levels, healthy blood vessels and optimal blood supply throughout the whole body, including the brain. Macadamias are naturally free of trans-fats and contain B1 for the brain. Your brain is the command centre for your entire nervous system that helps you think, remember, feel and move. Macadamias are a good source of vitamin B1 (thiamine) and this B-group vitamin is important for getting the energy out of food but it is also essential for the proper functioning of your nervous system.
Enjoy…knowing that every handful is doing you good!