By: Judy Davie, Founder of The Food Coach
Macadamias are full of fat. In fact there is more fat in macadamia nuts than any other nuts. This isn't a statement intended to send you racing to the fridge to throw out all your macadamia nuts in the bin, far from it. (You do store your nuts in the fridge don't you?). I am here to fight for the rights of Australia's only native nut and say: "get cracking, eat more, these nuts are great".
When you compare the fat profile of three other popular (and fabulous) nuts; almonds, walnuts and pecans, the macadamia has 75% fat, compared with 55%, 69% and 72% respectively. That's only slightly less than butter with 82%, but it's this fact that is exciting: macadamias contain 61% monounsaturated fat.
Let me see if I can hook you in with this angle - weight and fat loss. Research suggests that a diet rich in MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids) may help reduce abdominal fat*. That's belly fat, the fat that accumulates around your middle and gives you the shape of an apple. It's the fat that is considered a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Where are MUFAs found?
When it comes to MUFA's we assume there is no better food than olives and olive oil with canola oil coming in a close second. In fact macadamia oil has the most of all. With 80% monounsaturated fat compared with 70% olive oil and 61% canola oil it really should be taken seriously. I love the full flavour of olive oil and will continue to use it in the majority of my recipes but when it comes to baking, make some space in your pantry and fridge for macadamia oil and its butter. Certainly comparing macadamia oil with canola there is no contest. A natural food grown in its country of origin which evolved over 60 million years ago, or an oil that was introduced for human consumption in the 1970's and has been a point of contention ever since. What do you reckon?
There are a number of other reasons why we should include macadamias in our daily nut rations, other than to support the Australian industry and the fact that they taste so great.
|Food (per 100g)||Total fat %||Saturated fat||Monounsaturated fat||Polyunsaturated fat|
Macadamias - the original health food
Author and accredited practising dietitian and nutritionist, Nicole Senior in her report named "the original health food" says this of macadamias:
Nutritious and delicious: naturally free of trans-fats, macadamias contain phytochemicals such as antioxidants that help maintain health and well-being, fibre to maintain digestive regularity as well as protein, vitamins and minerals. One handful (30g/15 whole nuts) provides 1/3 of the recommended daily thiamine (vitamin B1), an important vitamin for releasing the energy from food as well as for normal functioning of the heart and nervous system.
Good for the heart: The oil in macadamias helps maintain ideal cholesterol levels but they also contain fibre and small amounts of natural plant sterols that can help control cholesterol. Macadamias also contain an amino acid called arginine which helps to keep blood vessels relaxed and flexible.
Good for blood sugar levels: macadamias can actually reduce blood glucose levels when added to meals or eaten instead of high GI snacks due to their healthy unsaturated oils, protein and fibre.
Slows the aging process: macadamias can help slow down the aging process thanks to a blend of antioxidants like manganese and copper which neutralise and scavenge what would otherwise damage cells.
How much energy do they hold?
A 30g serve of macadamia nuts is the equivalent to 920 kJ so if you want to lose weight make sure you stick to this small handful serve and don't keep coming back for more.
Good Health Great Taste
Our mantra at The Food Coach is: good health great taste and when it comes to good taste macadamia are hard to beat. They have a creamy buttery flavour, hence the reason I compare the macadamia fat profile with butter. Imagine if you could make a shortcrust pastry that has the creamy rich nature of a pastry made with butter without the bad fat. Well you can, just use macadamia spread instead. Here's my new recipe for a sweet shortcrust pastry that can be used to envelope stewed apples, sour cherries or any other seasonal fruit you like.
Macadamia sweet shortcrust pastry
1 Ĺ cups white spelt flour
1 Ĺ tbs brown sugar
100g macadamia butter/spread
Around 80ml iced cold water
Place flour, sugar and macadamia spread in the food processor with the dough blade in. Process to a breadcrumb consistency. Slowly add iced water until the dough forms together in a clump. Remove the dough and knead lightly with your hands. Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Nutritional information (serves 6 )
Energy: 992kJ, protein: 4g, fat: 13 g, sat fat: 0.5g, carbohydrate: 23g, fibre: 1g sodium: 0.5mg
The Australian macadamia growers are committed to clean green production to help create a sustainable future for the the industry and the communities they work in. It is leading the way in biological faming, a practise which helps to improve the environment while reducing soil erosion, disease, and insect problems. The introduction of Trichogramma wasp, used to eradicate nut borer has led to a dramatic reduction in the use of chemical sprays in the past 10 years. Today over 70 % of macadamia farmers use them.
Ref:*Diabetes Care. 2007 Jul;30(7):1717-23. Epub 2007 Mar 23.
Monounsaturated fat-rich diet prevents central body fat distribution and decreases postprandial adiponectin expression induced by a carbohydrate-rich diet in insulin-resistant subjects.
Paniagua JA, Gallego de la Sacristana A, Romero I, Vidal-Puig A, Latre JM, Sanchez E, Perez-Martinez P, Lopez-Miranda J, Perez-Jimenez F.