Prescription 2015: Macadamia NutsAugust 3, 2015 Written by JP [Font too small?]
These days, many nutritionists are no longer recommending a low fat diet as the be-all and end-all for promoting health. I agree! It’s absolutely fine, and, even advisable, for most people to eat moderate to large amounts of healthy fats. Foods such as avocados, grass fed meat, nuts, omega-3 eggs, seeds and wild fish can be enjoyed regularly without any sense of guilt or lingering uncertainty. But, the thing to keep in mind is that the components of any given diet do not exist in isolation. The health effects of dietary fat are influenced by the composition of your overall diet. For instance, a potato chip snack which is high in carbohydrates and fat will affect your body much differently than avocado slices wrapped in prosciutto. A typical serving of the latter may contain an equivalent amount of fat, but is much lower in carbohydrates and a richer source of protein.
My “prescription” today is to eat more omega-7 fatty acids in the form of macadamia nuts or oil. However, there are a few caveats to this suggestion. For starters, some people are allergic to macadamias. Mrs. Healthy Fellow cannot get anywhere near them! Also, pet owners need to be aware that dogs can have toxic reactions to these nuts. If you decide to stock them in your kitchen or pantry, be very careful to keep fido away. And, as alluded to above, if you add macadamia nuts or oil to your diet, do so as the expense of high glycemic, refined carbohydrates. A few examples: Try using macadamia nuts in place of croutons in a salad, popcorn at the movies or as a breading ingredient instead of grain-based flours.
Some of my long time readers may be wondering why I am recommending macadamia as a source of omega-7 fatty acids instead of sea buckthorn oil (SBO). I’ve been a proponent of SBO for many years and, I still am. There’s solid evidence supporting the various health benefits of SBO, ranging from a reduction in dry eye symptoms to the reversal of vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women. Simply put, I continue to endorse SBO supplements for these conditions and others. Having said that, macadamia nuts are more easily accessible as a food source – rather than a supplement. This translates into vastly different amounts of omega-7s in a typical serving. As an example, two 500 mg soft gels of SBO provide approximately 300 – 400 mg of palmitoleic acid, an omega-7 fat. A tablespoon of macadamia oil contains up to 3,500 mg of palmitoleic acid. Beyond that, these two distinct sources of omega-7s are profoundly different in nutritional and phytochemical composition.
Macadamias are unique in the tree nut category, in that they contain a minimal amount of omega-6 fatty acids (4%) and an abundance of monounsaturated fat (79%). A 2014 review in the journal Lipids Health and Disease reports that diets rich in monounsaturated fats, including olive oil, reduce all-cause mortality by 11%, cardiovascular mortality by 12% and stroke by 17%. What’s more, five studies appearing in other prestigious journals support the notion that consuming macadamia nuts reduces cardiovascular risk factors. In most of the trials, a dose of about 1.5 – 3 ounces/day of macadamias was used. Some of the benefits noted were decreased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol and a reduction in biomarkers relating to inflammation, oxidative stress and thrombosis. Additionally, no weight gain was documented when the nuts were used as isocaloric replacements for other foods. In fact, one trial actually revealed a decline in body weight in young women who were fed a macadamia nut diet over a three week period.
When choosing macadamia nuts or oil keep the following in mind: Raw macadamias are higher in antioxidants, though lightly roasting the nuts still maintains much of their goodness. Macadamia oil has a maximum shelf life of about 12 months. So, be sure not to hang on to it for more than that. Rancid oil is never healthy, no matter what the source. All of this is to say that if you’re not allergic, or a dog, you can heartily eat macadamias as part of a holistic wellness program. Enjoy!
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 - Macadamia Nut Allergy: 2 Case Reports and a Review of the Literature … (link)
Study 2 - Allergy to Macadamia Nut (link)
Study 3 - Weakness, Tremors, and Depression Associated with Macadamia Nuts in … (link)
Study 4 - Potential Plant Poisonings in Dogs and Cats in Southern Africa … (link)
Study 5 – Effects of Oral Sea Buckthorn Oil on Tear Film Fatty Acids in Individuals … (link)
Study 6 - Effects of Sea Buckthorn Oil Intake on Vaginal Atrophy in … (link)
Study 7 - Healthful New Oil from Macadamia Nuts (link)
Study 8 - Monounsaturated Fatty Acids, Olive Oil and Health Status: A Systematic … (link)
Study 9 - A Macadamia Nut-Rich Diet Reduces Total and LDL-Cholesterol in Mildly … (link)
Study 10 - Macadamia Nut Consumption Modulates Favourably Risk Factors for … (link)
Study 11 - Serum Lipid Effects of a Monounsaturated (Palmitoleic) Fatty Acid-Rich … (link)
Study 12 - Macadamia Nut Consumption Lowers Plasma Total and LDL Cholesterol … (link)
Study 13 - Serum Lipid Effects of a High-Monounsaturated Fat Diet Based on … (link)
Study 14 - Influence of Roasting Conditions on Health-Related Compounds in … (link)
Study 15 - Aging Effects on Macadamia Nut Oil Studied by Electrospray Ionization … (link)
Study 16 - The Antioxidant Activity and Oxidative Stability of Cold-Pressed Oils … (link)
Macadamia Nut Diet Reduces LDL Cholesterol & Triglycerides
Source: Arch Intern Med. 2000 Apr 24;160(8):1154-8. (link)
Tags: Cholesterol, Inflammation, Macadamia
Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Nutrition