Originally indigenous to Australia, macadamia trees have now expanded past their native roots and are now cultivated globally in warm, wet climates, finding homes in diverse countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica and New Zealand. With a distinctive cream colour and a buttery, smooth texture, macadamia nuts have become a culinary favourite, lending themselves to a wide variety of recipes.
Along with their amazing taste, macadamia nuts boast a nutritional profile abundant in essential nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. Renowned for promoting various health advantages, these nuts contribute to improved digestion, heart health, weight management and blood sugar control.
The low carbohydrate and sugar content of macadamia nuts, coupled with a significant fibre content renders them a valuable addition to the diets of individuals with type 2 diabetes. The fibre content not only aids in maintaining stable blood sugar levels but also fosters the development of a healthy digestive system by supporting probiotics which contribute to a good gut bacterial balance and overall digestive well-being.
The antioxidant-rich composition of macadamia nuts, featuring compounds like flavonoids, plays a pivotal role in reducing inflammation and cholesterol levels. Research suggests that these antioxidants may offer protective benefits against certain types of cancer, and also a lowered risk of heart disease and diabetes later in life.
In terms of nutritional content, macadamia nuts deliver substantial doses of protein, monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, manganese, vitamin B1 and copper. Despite their small size, these nuts pack a nutritional punch and can help manage your weight as less food is needed to feel fuller for longer. Additionally, the presence of copper and manganese supports a robust immune system.
For those without macadamia nut allergies, incorporating these nuts into their daily diet can offer various potential benefits including brain protection, a reduced risk of heart disease and appetite suppression. Beyond consumption in their whole form, macadamia nut oil is prized for its high content of beneficial fats and is widely used in culinary applications. Moreover, these nuts can be used in salads as a lower-fat alternative to traditional options such as croutons.
Why are they so expensive?
The luxury of eating macadamia nuts comes at a price. The limited availability of tree varieties that produce high-quality nuts significantly contributes to the expensive cost. It also takes a considerable amount of time for trees to start bearing nuts, typically ranging from 10-15 years for a tree to reach maturity and maximum yield.
Knowing when a macadamia nut is ripe can be very challenging, as it takes around 300 lbs of pressure to crack the shell. Because of this, manual sorting is usually required and this is time consuming and costly. The prolonged duration for a macadamia tree to yield harvestable nuts, coupled with the labour-intensive harvesting process has led to a production lag behind demand, which also keeps the prices high.