Macadamia nuts are the fruits of the walnut macadamia (macadamia integrifolia), native of Australia, originally found in natural forests, reaching up to 15 meters in height. It belongs to the Proteaceae family of plants, whose walnut is considered the most tasty among the nuts commercialized in the world. It has elliptic leaves and extremely hard and woody nuts.
Macadamia nuts, besides being extremely tasty, have important vitamins and minerals, some of which include vitamin A, B vitamins, iron, folic acid, manganese, proteins, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folates. In addition to containing moderate amounts of zinc, copper, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, healthy fats and powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols, amino acids, flavones and selenium.
Besides being used for food, macadamia is also used in other industries, mainly cosmetics, for the production of soaps, flavorings, incense and moisturizers. The oil extracted from macadamia is also used in the cosmetics industry and in the pharmaceutical industry.
The fruits fall naturally from the trees when they are ripe, at this time the fruits have a moisture content of approximately 25% d.b. (dry base). After harvesting, the fruits proceed to a post-harvest unit for removal of the carpel (which is a second outer shell), selection and storage of the nuts in the shell. This is one of the most delicate moments for the quality of the macadamia nuts, because a low moisture content contributes to its best quality.
This is also one of the most critical moments for the quality of macadamia, since the high moisture content of the macadamia shell speeds up germination and, when not properly handled, greatly increases the percentage of moldy kernels.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE MACADAMIA NUTS:
The richness in fiber and other minerals, such as magnesium and potassium, present in macadamia helps in various treatments, such as heart health, cholesterol lowering and blood pressure. The flavonoids present in macadamia act as antioxidants, and can also help in the treatment of diabetes and rejuvenation of the skin and hair.
Macadamia nuts are also rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which can make platelets less sticky and less prone to form clots in blood vessels, which also helps prevent heart attack or stroke.
Macadamia also has oleic acid, which keeps blood pressure low and helps prevent stroke, thus helping to preserve brain health. It also has palmitoleic acid, an important component of myelin (a fatty layer that protects nerve cells in the brain). The omega-9 present in this nut helps to improve mood, in addition to being important in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
Since macadamia nuts are a natural product, its nutritional composition can vary depending on climate, variety and cultural practices. Below is a table with average nutritional values for 15g serving of raw macadamia nuts.