Macadamia – Can a Nut that’s 76% Fat Be Healthy?

The answer is a big fat yes!

In fact, the reason macadamias are so healthy is that they’re jam-packed with beneficial fats, including monounsaturated acids, palmitoleic acids, and oleic acids.

In this article, you’ll discover why macadamias can boost your health and well-being, and you’ll learn practical tips on how you can enrich your diet with this true Hawaiian classic. 

What are Macadamias?

While most of us link the macadamia to Hawaii, this nut actually comes from the Macadamia integrifolia, a tree that is native to Australia. 

In the late 1800s, however, seedlings of the macadamia were introduced to Hawaii, and today, over 73% of the total macadamia production comes from this tropical island. That’s why the nut is also called the “Hawaii nut.”

Besides their delicious creamy and slightly sweet flavor, this nut also contains many beneficial nutrients. Here’s the nutritional value of macadamias per ounce, which represents about 10 to 12 whole kernels:

  • Calories: 204
  • Fat: 21.5 grams
  • Carb: 3.8 grams
  • Fiber: 2.4 grams
  • Protein: 2.3 grams
  • Manganese: 58% of the RDI
  • Thiamin: 22% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 9% of the RDI

In addition, macadamias are also an excellent source of healthy fats, calcium, vitamin B6, and iron. That’s why you can support your health and well-being by adding this nut to your diet.

In the next few sections, we’ll look at some of the scientifically-proven benefits of this nut.

Macadamias Support Heart Health

While nuts as a food group are heart-healthy, macadamias are particularly excellent for your ticker. There are various reasons that adding this beloved island favorite to your diet can enhance cardiovascular health:

  • Macadamias contain significant amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, palmitoleic acids, and oleic acid. 
  • Macadamias are effective at reducing several blood markers related to inflammation and oxidative stress, which benefits heart health.[1]
  • Macadamias are an abundant source of manganese, a mineral that supports and benefits vasodilation, which means it aids the relaxation of blood vessels.
  • Macadamias can lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol in those with elevated cholesterol levels.[2]

In other words, if you want to support heart health, decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and boost your energy levels, enrich your diet with macadamias.

Macadamias Can Help You Obtain and Maintain Healthy Body Weight

Even though nuts are high in calories, research does not link consuming them to weight gain. 

In fact, research on 8,865 men and women found that those who consumed two or more portions of nuts per week were 31% less likely to gain weight over 28 months than to those who ate nuts less often or not at all. [3]

The reason that nuts – including macadamias – don’t tend to increase body weight is that they’re highly satiating. That’s why nut consumption usually pairs with an automatic reduction in total calorie intake. 

In other words, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, there’s no need to steer away from macadamias. Hence, adding this creamy nut to your diet may even help you to reach your target number on the scale.

Macadamias Support Brain Function

Macadamias are one of the best sources of palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid that offers many health and cognitive benefits but, unfortunately, is found in very few foods. 

The reason palmitoleic acid boosts brain health is that this fatty acid is a major component of myelin, which are sheets of fatty tissue that protect your nerve cells. 

That’s why palmitoleic acid benefits your long-term brain health and helps stave off neurological and neurodegenerative diseases. [4]

Besides, macadamias also score high in other brain-boosting nutrients, such as thiamine and copper. Thiamine helps your body to convert carbs into energy, and copper helps deliver oxygen to the brain and plays a major role in neurotransmitter synthesis.

Macadamias Can Help Prevent Disease

Because macadamias are a nutritional powerhouse, adding this nut to your diet can help you to prevent and battle diseases.

Macadamias, for example, can reduce inflammation levels in the body, which is why regular consumption of this nut may help you prevent heart disease.[1]

A 2015 meta-analysis published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that higher nut consumption was linked to a reduced likelihood of dying from cancer. [5]

Other Health Benefits of Macadamias 

  • Macadamias promote bone strength. That’s because this nut contains calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus, all of which help you to obtain and maintain strong bones.
  • Macadamias support skin health. The reason is that this nut is a powerful source of manganese, a trace mineral that is required for the creation of collagen. Manganese also acts as an antioxidant in the skin, working to protect it from damaging ultraviolet light which can accelerate the skin’s aging. 
  • Macadamias support gut health. Two main reasons are that this nut: (1) contains much fiber, which benefits gut bacteria; and (2) that it scores high in copper, which aids enzymatic reactions related to digestive health.
  • Macadamias are an excellent low-carb snack. That’s because this nut is easy to take with you on the road and only contains four grams of carbs per serving (of which 60% is fiber).
  • Macadamias are one of the most eco-friendly nuts. Since macadamia trees can produce for up to 100 years and tend to be grown sustainably, they’re one of the better nuts for the environment.

Do Macadamias Have Side Effects?

While macadamias can be fantastic for promoting health, there is one scenario in which you should avoid this nut. 

This is if you’re allergic to tree nuts. In some cases, those only allergic to peanuts may still need to avoid tree nuts to prevent cross-contamination issues.

Also, it’s important to note that, even though moderate nut consumption tends to benefit body weight, eating unlimited amounts of them may still cause weight gain because nuts score high in calories.

In other words, don’t devour an entire bag of macadamias just because they’re “weight-loss-friendly.” Instead, keep your portion per serving to around one ounce, which is about 10-12 nuts.

Besides, please also note that macadamias are toxic to dogs. Consumption can lead to vomiting, muscle tremors, weakness, fever, and depression. So, keep macadamias out of their sight.

How to Add Macadamias to Your Diet

Are you thinking about adding macadamias to your diet? If so, here are five tips to get the most out of this nut: 

Tip 1: Use macadamias as a replacement for unhealthy snacks. For example, instead of reaching for chips, go for a handful of macadamias. Not only will you reap the benefits of this nut, but you’ll also avoid the negative health consequences of eating chips.

Tip 2: Avoid macadamia products that contain added vegetable oil, sugar, and preservatives. Instead, go for the unprocessed ones. 

Tip 3: After you buy macadamias, don’t let them sit idle in your pantry. Instead, store them in the refrigerator or freezer. This prevents the fatty acids of the nut from going rancid and increases its shelf-life. [6]

Tip 4: Eat your nuts raw, soaked or cooked at low temperatures because roasting can turn some antioxidants useless, damage the healthy fats in nuts, and cause the formation of harmful chemicals.

Tip 5: Make delicious nut butter by blending 500 grams of low-temperature roasted macadamias with a food processor for three to six minutes. Go for three minutes if you want a thick butter and six minutes if you prefer it smoother.

The Bottom Line on Macadamias

Whether you’re headed out for a hike, crave a quick snack, or want to send a heartfelt aloha to family and friends, macadamias are not only delicious but also healthy.

They’re jam-packed with beneficial nutrients, such as manganese, thiamine, magnesium, fiber, monounsaturated acids, palmitoleic acids, and oleic acids.

That’s why macadamias offer many benefits, including healthy body weight, improved cardiovascular health, enhanced brain functioning, and decreased risk of disease.

So, if your diet doesn’t contain macadamias yet, feel free to consume a handful of these nuts a few times a week up to daily. It’ll not only tickle your taste buds but will also support your body weight and health.


1. Garg, M. L., Blake, R. J., Wills, R. B., & Clayton, E. H. (2007). Macadamia nut consumption modulates favourably risk factors for coronary artery disease in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Lipids, 42(6), 583-7.

2. Griel, A. E., Cao, Y., Bagshaw, D. D., Cifelli, A. M., Holub, B., & Kris-Etherton, P. M. (2008). A macadamia nut-rich diet reduces total and LDL-cholesterol in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women. Journal of Nutrition, 138(4), 761-7.

3. Bes-Rastrollo, M., Sabate, J., Gomez-Garcia, E., Alonso, A., Martinez, J. A., & Martinez-Gonzalez, M. A. (2007). Nut consumption and weight gain in a Mediterranean cohort: The SUN study. Obesity, 15(1), 107-16.

4. Hussain, G., Schmitt, F., Loeffler, J. P., & Gonzales de Aguilar, J. L. (2013). Fatting the brain: A brief of recent research. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 7, 144.

5. Grosso, G., Yang, J., Marventano, S., Micek, A., Galvano, F., & Kales, S. N. (2015). Nut consumption on all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiologic studies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 101(4), 783-793.

6. Harris, L. J., Giovanni, M., & Metz, D. (2010, August).Nuts: Safe Methods for Consumers to Handle, Store, and Enjoy. Retrieved from

Natalie Butler, RDN, LD

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. A foodie at heart and happiest in the kitchen. Wife and mom to a boy and a girl. Yogi. Crafter. Gardener. Lover of spicy food and dark chocolate. Passionate about health and wellness. Owner of Nutrition by Natalie and Staff Dietitian for SuperFat.