Seeds and Cereals

Health Benefits of Macadamia

The macadamia is a nutty flavor buttery, sweet almond and very attractive to the palate. Ranked as the queen of nuts, macadamia is a rich source of vitamins, minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron and magnesium, antioxidants and unsaturated fatty acids that are beneficial for the heart.

Both the macadamia tree and the fruit have the same name, the difference being that the macadamia fruit is also known as the macadamia nut. It can be consumed in its natural state or as an ingredient in several products such as cookies, cakes, pies, breads, chocolates, ice cream, among others. Macadamia oil is also extracted from the nut, which is used in cooking and mainly in the cosmetics industry for the manufacture of shampoos, creams and soaps.

Macadamia is native to Australia, but Hawaii was the world’s largest producer of the nut for years. There are about 7 species of macadamia nut but only two are edible, the macadamia integrifólia and the macadamia tetraphylla. The other species are either inedible or poisonous.

In Brazil, the most cultivated species in the Southeast, Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul and Bahia is Macadamia integrifoli. The macadamia fruit consists of a fleshy green-colored coating resembling a small lemon that inside contains a brown-shelled walnut with a cream-colored almond.

MACADAMIA PROPERTIES

The properties of macadamia come from the vitamins and minerals present in this nut, which promote the proper functioning of the body. Macadamia is rich in B vitamins, vitamin C and E. 100 grams of macadamia nut provide the recommended daily level of thiamine (vitamin B1) and good amounts of pyridoxine (vitamin B6), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid ( vitamin B5), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and folic acid (vitamin B9).

Macadamia is still a good source of minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, potassium and selenium. Among the benefits of macadamia we can mention:

1.Helps to lose weight

Despite being caloric and containing fat, the fat present in macadamia is monounsaturated, the so-called “good fat” that reduces bad cholesterol. Macadamia is rich in palmitoleic acid and omega 7. Palmitoleic acid speeds up metabolism, helping to burn fat.

2. Improves muscle performance

Macadamia nuts help generate energy. They contain thiamine, an important vitamin in the generation of ATP, a molecule that generates energy. Macadamia also has significant amounts of protein, an essential nutrient for muscle maintenance and development.

3. Beneficial for the heart. lower cholesterol

Macadamia is rich in monounsaturated fats, so called “good” fats that help to reduce the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase the “good” (HDL). As a consequence of the cleaning that HDL molecules in the arteries and the lesser accumulation of LDL in the blood wall, the risk of atherosclerosis (inflammatory process in the vessel wall) decreases and, consequently, the risk of heart attacks and strokes is reduced. It is a 100% cholesterol-free nut and can be consumed guilt-free.

4. Fight free radicals

We find in macadamia compounds such as flavonoids that fight free radicals, these are highly reactive and can cause DNA damage and cancer. The consumption of antioxidant foods, such as macadamia, prevents radicals from causing this damage and prevents many types of cancer.

5.Prevents anemia

Anemia is caused by a lack of iron. Iron is an important constituent of red blood cells for the transport of oxygen to tissues. When the body does not receive enough oxygen-rich blood, the person may feel tired, pale, short of breath, among other symptoms. Macadamia contains iron, which helps maintain the supply of this mineral in our body, preventing anemia.

6. Good for the nervous system

Macadamia contains substances that contribute to the synthesis of neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that send the signal to the organ or tissue to carry out the final action.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) present in macadamia nut, participates in the synthesis of acetylcholine. Copper, also present in walnuts, is important for the production of norepinephrine.

7. Good for proper bowel function

Macadamia is a source of soluble and insoluble fiber that promotes satiety, aids digestion, stimulates evacuation, reduces the feeling of bloating, controls fat absorption and helps eliminate toxins.

8. Good for bones

Macadamia contains minerals important for the formation and maintenance of bone health. Calcium and phosphorus are constituents of bone matrix and teeth. Manganese helps maintain the skeleton, making it stay strong. Zinc activates the enzyme responsible for the differentiation of bone cells and magnesium prevents crystals that weaken bones from being formed.

9. Moisturizes and protects skin and hair

Macadamia nut extracts macadamia oil, which is rich in palmitoleic acid. This oil is widely used by the cosmetic industry in the manufacture of moisturizers, shampoos, soaps, among others. Large cosmetic brands have specific lines with macadamia oil, such as natural macadamia and hair macadamia, since palmitoleic acid, the main component of the oil, has a high affinity with our skin and penetrates the scalp very easily. It is largely responsible for skin and hair hydration.

Using macadamia oil on hair hydrates and protects the hair from damage caused by the use of chemicals, reduces frizz, gives shine to the strands, controls volume and restores the natural elasticity of the hair strands, reducing breakage and the appearance of ends doubles.

For the skin, macadamia oil improves skin health, delays the appearance of signs of aging, improves elasticity, keeping the skin looking younger and more beautiful for longer.

CULTIVATION MACADAMIA

The macadamia tree, also known as Nogueira-Macadamia, is originally from Australia and has adapted well to Brazilian lands. The fact that Brazil is at the same latitude as Australia, and is a subtropical country, explains the reason for its good development in the country. The plant arrived in Brazil in the 1930s, but it was only in the 1990s that it began to be better appreciated and used in various recipes and preparations.

The macadamia tree is gaining in popularity every day and can be cultivated in many types of soil, but it adapts best in deep soils, rich in organic material and well drained. The tree does not support frost or intense cold, being suitable for planting in regions with mild climate, as regions with very high temperature, it also does not develop well.

The plant begins to produce in five years, and can reach up to 15 meters in height when it reaches adulthood, around 25 years old. It is a long-lived plant that can exceed 100 years of age. Its fruit is a round brown walnut, about 2.5 centimeters in diameter, which protects the buttery cream-colored almond.

HOW TO PLANT MACADAMIA

Before planting, the land that will receive the sprouted macadamia seed or seedling must be treated with manure, magnesian limestone and other nutrients from the gardening mix that can be found in specialist stores.

Choose a place with space, as the tree, when mature, can reach up to 15 meters, and is protected from strong winds. During the frost season, cover the plant, as it cannot withstand very cold temperatures.

The macadamia tree prefers tropical and subtropical climates, places where temperatures are between 6 and 28ºC are ideal. Places with low relative humidity and rainfall less than 1,500mm should be avoided.

During the plant’s development phase, the soil must be reinforced with nitrogen every two months and fertilizer periodically, this makes the tree grow faster and healthier.

BUY MACADAMIA NUT

The macadamia nut can be easily found throughout Brazil in natural food stores, markets, fairs in its various forms, sold in bulk or already packaged. You can find unpeeled, unpeeled, raw, roasted and salted macadamia nuts as an ingredient in cakes, pies, biscuits, breads, chocolates, bonbons. Just choose the type you like best and enjoy all its benefits.

 

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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