Macadamia nuts are the fattiest nut there is. They also have a rich, buttery flavor that makes them incredibly delicious. And yet, we rarely see them being mentioned as a keto-friendly ingredient. So, why is that?
Most likely, macadamias are not as popular as other nuts because they’re costly.
Macadamias can cost twice as much as almonds, or about $25 per pound! And let’s be honest, most keto dieters don’t have that much extra cash for nuts.
But these exotic treats can still have a place in your keto diet without hurting your wallet. Here’s more on macadamia nuts and the benefits they can give you if you’re a low-carb eater.
What Are Macadamia Nuts?
Macadamia nuts are tree nuts from the Proteaceae family of flowering plants native to Australia . There are many species of Macadamia, but only two are cultivated for commercial nut production.
The nuts are usually sold roasted, but you can find raw nuts as well.
As already mentioned, macadamia nuts are pricey. That’s mainly because growing them is a long and complicated process. The trees take up to 10 years to produce fruit and can be grown only in specific environments.
Processing them is also quite tricky because they require special instruments to crack their tough shells.
All this means there are few producers of macadamia nuts, making them rare but highly sought-after.
Taste-wise, macadamias are noted for their rich and buttery flavor, which is often compared to cocoa butter or white chocolate.
Their texture is also creamier than what you would expect from a nut. Many prefer their macadamias roasted, although they can be eaten raw.
Are Macadamia Nuts Keto-Friendly?
In fact, macadamia nuts are the ultimate keto nut.
At least 60% of their dry weight is made of fat, and sometimes they can contain up to 80% fat.
Some keto dieters prefer to make anti-inflammatory unsaturated fats the predominant fat in their diet, and macadamias can also help with that.
Only 12% of the fats in macadamia nuts are unsaturated, and a little over 1% are polyunsaturated omega-6 fats. The rest are monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) — the same type of fat responsible for the health benefits of olive oil.
And as far as protein in macadamia nuts goes, a 1 oz serving has 2.24g of this vital nutrient or around 8% of their dry weight . They have all essential amino acids except for tryptophan.
Benefits of Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts provide health and other benefits, especially on a keto diet. Regularly eating macadamia nuts has been associated with the following:
Studies on the effects of macadamia nuts on adults with high cholesterol have found that their MUFAs reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, and total and LDL cholesterol [4, 5]. In addition, MUFAs are generally protective of cardiovascular health, so including foods that contain them can help.
The MUFAs in macadamia nuts can also help with weight loss. That is because MUFAs have a high oxidation rate, meaning the body seems to burn them quickly to produce energy .
They are also linked to diet-induced thermogenesis, i.e., increased metabolic rate following food intake. That can help your body burn excess fat, especially when combined with a keto diet.
MUFAs are also helpful in preventing metabolic syndrome, which refers to a cluster of conditions linked to poor metabolic health , like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, elevated cholesterol or triglyceride levels, and extra weight around the waist. One of the main reasons is that they boost fat burning.
Diets high in oleic acid, the main MUFA in macadamia nuts, were found to have strong anti-inflammatory properties . Moreover, according to some research, since cells of the immune system are involved in inflammation and inflammatory disease, oleic acid also seems to influence immunity.
Besides the above, macadamia nuts are also a source of fiber, providing 10% of this nutrient in a 1 oz serving. Fiber is essential for metabolic and gut health, also helping lower cholesterol levels.
Macadamia Nuts on a Keto Diet
There are countless ways to add and enjoy macadamias on a low-carb lifestyle. These rich, creamy, and overall tasty nuts can fit into savory and (lucky for us) sweet meals. They have a fairly mild, somewhat sweet taste that makes macadamias enjoyable on their own. But other ways to eat them include:
- As an add-in to keto cookies and keto muffins
- As a topping for yogurt or smoothies
- In low-carb pie crusts
- In salads and lunch bowls
Macadamia nuts can also be finely ground for keto cookies and other baked goods. Or they can be processed into nut butter. Speaking of the latter, we think it’s one of the tastiest and richest kinds of nut butter you could enjoy.
But because macadamias are so pricey, they are usually not the go-to nut for most low-carb dieters. If you’d like to make them a regular part of your diet, buying in bulk and at a discount can save you money.
With their exceptionally high-fat content and low level of carbs, macadamia nuts are some of the best nuts for the keto diet.
But due to their high price, most keto eaters opt for almonds, walnuts, and other more affordable nuts to meet their daily nutritional needs and cravings for crunch and sweetness.
But macadamias can still have a special place in your keto pantry as an occasional indulgence. Adding them to your diet can help you increase your intake of healthy MUFAs as well as fiber, protein, and other nutrients.
- Macadamia. Technical Information. INC International Nut and Dried Fruit Council. 2018. Accessed January, 2022. https://www.nutfruit.org/files/tech/1548322203_Technical_Information_Kit_Macadamias_Final.pdf
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Nuts, macadamia nuts, raw. April 2019. - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170178/nutrients
- Macadamia Nuts. Science Direct. Accessed January, 2022. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/macadamia-nuts
- Garg ML, Blake RJ, Wills RB, Clayton EH. Macadamia nut consumption modulates favourably risk factors for coronary artery disease in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Lipids. 2007;42(6):583-587. doi:10.1007/s11745-007-3042-8
- Griel AE, Cao Y, Bagshaw DD, Cifelli AM, Holub B, Kris-Etherton PM. A macadamia nut-rich diet reduces total and LDL-cholesterol in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women. J Nutr. 2008;138(4):761-767. doi:10.1093/jn/138.4.761
- Soares MJ, Piers LS, Walker KZ, O'Dea K. Is there a role for monounsaturated fat in the dietary management of obesity?. Asia Pac J Public Health. 2003;15 Suppl:S18-S21. doi:10.1177/101053950301500S06
- Sheashea M, Xiao J, Farag MA. MUFA in metabolic syndrome and associated risk factors: is MUFA the opposite side of the PUFA coin?. Food Funct. 2021;12(24):12221-12234. Published 2021 Dec 13. doi:10.1039/d1fo00979f
- Carrillo C, Cavia Mdel M, Alonso-Torre S. Role of oleic acid in immune system; mechanism of action; a review. Nutr Hosp. 2012;27(4):978-990. doi:10.3305/nh.2012.27.4.5783