The health benefits of macadamia nuts — and the most delicious ways to enjoy them

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Perfectly creamy and buttery, macadamia nuts are often enjoyed in cookies—but the macadamia has so much more to offer. The subtly sweet nut works beautifully in a range of recipes, from pie crusts to salad dressings. And here's the thing: macadamia nuts are teeming with myriad essential nutrients. Here, discover the health benefits of macadamia nuts, plus how to use them in your kitchen.

What are the Nutritional Benefits of Macadamia Nuts?

From a whole-body perspective, macadamia nuts have a lot to offer. The nuts are rich in "good" monounsaturated fats, which reduce inflammation by suppressing inflammatory proteins called cytokines, according to a 2019 scientific article. This is key because excess, long-term inflammation can damage DNA, increasing the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer. Additionally, macadamia nuts offer flavonoids and tocotrienols, which are antioxidant compounds. According to Marissa Meshulam, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., registered dietitian and founder of MPM Nutrition, antioxidants fight free radicals, or harmful molecules that—when present in high amounts—cause cell damage and inflammation. Thus, if you're looking to up your intake of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods, macadamia nuts will fit the bill.

Related: The Health Benefits of Cinnamon, Everyone's Favorite Spice

The good fats in macadamia nuts can benefit specific areas of the body, too. According to Meshulam, monounsaturated fats have been shown to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol. This is noteworthy because high LDL cholesterol levels can increase your risk of heart disease, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The anti-inflammatory properties of these fats also lend a hand, as inflammation can further contribute to the development of heart disease. Moreover, these good-for-you fats aid your noggin as well. "Your brain is mostly made up of fats, so eating foods rich in healthy fats—like the monounsaturated fats found in macadamia nuts—helps support brain health," explains Meshulam. Macadamia nuts also contain vitamin E, she adds. This essential nutrient may slow down or prevent neurodegenerative brain conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, according to a 2019 scientific article. Even your gut will benefit from macadamia nuts. "Macadamia nuts are a source of soluble fiber," says Meshulam. "Soluble fiber serves as a prebiotic for gut bacteria, which means it helps nourish the good microbes in our gut, [helping] them flourish."

How to Use Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are enjoyed like other nuts: on their own, as a topping, and in baked goods. In the dessert realm, they're most commonly found in white chocolate chip cookies, though they also work well in tarts, granola, and shortbread. Try adding a handful of macadamia nuts to your next quick bread, like our Vegan Banana Bread. If you're craving a simpler treat, try our Lime and Macadamia Nut Bark or Chocolate-Caramelized Macadamia Nuts.

But don't limit yourself to the sweet stuff. Simply toast the nuts in a medley of spices, as we did with our Garlicky Habanero Macadamia Nuts. Use chopped macadamia nuts to add flavor and texture to savory dishes, including salads and soups. Love meats with crunchy coatings? Try using macadamia nuts in our Almond-Crusted Chicken or Walnut-Crusted Chicken Breasts. You can also buy macadamia nut oil, which serves as a heart-healthy replacement for vegetable or canola oil. As Meshulam explains, most vegetable oils are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. These fats, when eaten in excess, can promote inflammation. However, macadamia nut oil has the opposite effect, as it's relatively low in omega-6s and high in anti-inflammatory fats.

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