Monday, January 21, 2013
Article # 230. Health Benefits of Macadamia Nuts
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. And macadamia nuts are no exception! Yes, these sweet, creamy, crunchy, luxuriously delicious nuts, more often thought of as a high-fat indulgence rather than a health food, are in fact healthier than you might think. Although they are high in fat, nearly 80 percent of it is monounsaturated fat--the "good" kind of fat that lowers your overall cholesterol and your LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and raises your HDL ("good") cholesterol. All nuts, including macadamia nuts, are naturally cholesterol-free and are great sources of fiber. Macadamia nuts also contain vitamin A, thiamine, vitamin E, riboflavin, niacin and iron.
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 effect 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--macadamia nut oil is an excellent addition to lotions and skin creams--and helps keep your cells functioning properly.
Vitamin E and Thiamin
Macadamia nuts are an excellent source of thiamin, also known as vitamin B1--1 cup of macadamia nuts provides over 100 percent of your daily thiamin requirement! Thiamin is necessary for converting carbohydrates into energy and for maintaining the health of the nervous system. Macadamia nuts are also a good source for riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3) and vitamin B6. Macadamia nuts also contain vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. Vitamin E also helps heal wounds and may reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease.
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. Macadamia nuts are a tasty source of omega-3 fatty acids. Macadamia nuts also have a healthy 6:1 ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids--scientists generally recommend a ratio somewhere between 1:1 and 10:1.
Cooking With Macadamia Nut Oil
Macadamia nut oil, sometimes called mac nut oil, is the hottest new cooking oil--literally! With a very high smoking point, macadamia nut oil is ideal for high-heat cooking, and its high percentage of monounsaturated fats make it a health healthy choice, on par with olive oil or canola oil. Macadamia nut oil can also be used in place of other oils or butter in baking.
Because of its high content of monounsaturated fat, macadamia nut oil is fast becoming a favorite among top chefs around the world. Not only is it healthier than olive oil and canola oil, but many people also believe that it has a better taste. In addition, macadamia nut oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil, which means that it can be cooked at higher temperatures without breaking down and losing its flavor.
Flavanoids in Macadamia nuts
Another health benefit of macadamia nuts comes from their flavanoids (the same compounds that give red wine its healthful claim to fame). Flavanoids are compounds naturally found in plants. They help repair damaged plant cells and protect the plant from environmental toxins. When we eat these plants, our bodies turn the flavanoids into antioxidants. Antioxidants search for and destroy free radicals (destructive particles in the body that cause heart disease and other conditions). As a result, the flavanoids help lower blood pressure and protect against some forms of cancer.