Some dietary superstars outshine other foods for both their nutritional content and the wondrous things they do for your health. These traditional plant-based cures have been dubbed “superfoods” or “nutraceuticals” due to their medicinal properties, but I call them Omni NutriPower foods.
Not only do macadamia nuts have a delightfully crunchy, creamy flavor, but their oil ranks as a true nutripower food. It enlivens salad greens with a rich, nutty flavor and is preferable to many other cooking oils because of its very high smoke point, allowing it to be heated to 425 degrees before breaking down.
Among the many health-boosting benefits of macadamias and their fragrant, silky oil are these:
- Lower cholesterol and heart disease risk. In a randomized clinical study at Penn State University, people with mildly elevated cholesterol showed significant drops in total cholesterol (a reduction of about 11 points), LDL (bad) cholesterol, and their ratio of total cholesterol to HDL after eating a diet rich in macadamias for 5 weeks, compared to the effects of an average American diet.
- Reduced inflammation and oxidative stress. Rich in healthy fats–including oleic and palmitoleic acids–macadamias have also been linked to rapid improvements in both markers of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress, a biological process similar to rusting. Higher levels of oxidative stress signal that your body is aging faster than it should. In the study, male volunteers ate macadamias daily for 4 weeks.
- Weight control. Even though macadamias have the highest fat content of any nut–and have been dubbed “nature’s butterballs,” a Harvard study of more than 51,000 middle-aged women found that those who ate nuts (of all types) two or more times a week weighed 11 pounds less than women who rarely or never ate them. In addition, the frequent nut eaters had a 23 percent lower risk for becoming obese during the 8-year study.
- Possible cancer protection. A study by the USDA found that macadamias have a unique nutritional profile that may have both antioxidant and anti-cancer benefits, due to potent phytochemicals called T3 and squalene. However, these conclusions were based on laboratory analysis of the oil and nut kernels, not tests in people.