Have you ever eaten macadamia nuts?
They taste really good as they are crunchy and creamy at the same time. Before telling you why it is a good idea to eat a couple of these healthy nuts a day let me tell you a little about the history of this nut.
What is the origin of the Macadamia nut
This nut actually originates from Australia. It belongs to the plant family Proteaceae, and grows in parts of New South Wales and central and southeastern Queensland.
There are 10 species but 2 of them grow best as commercially productive plants. One is the macadamia integrifolia, which is the type that has smooth shells. Then there is also the macadamia tetraphylla and that one has rough shelled nuts.
An Aboriginal delicacy
It seems the macadamia nut is very old and is said to have originated 60.000 years ago in the rain forest of Australia. Whenever the Aboriginal people would come across this tree they would harvest the nuts. Macadamias were traded between the different tribes and used during inter-tribal “corroborees” as ceremonial gifts. These nuts had a high value and were considered a delicacy.
The discovery by European Botanists
Walter Hill, who was the director of the Botany Garden in Brisbane found the nut. He opened it with the help of a vise and planted the seed. Normally these trees produce for some 70 years but this “first” tree is still growing and producing nuts. Then the German botanist Ferdinand von Meuller was also enchanted to discover this tree in the 1850s.
The 2 botanists had been together on a botanical expedition. This new discovery was named after scientist and politician Dr. John MacAdam, who promoted the cultivation of the species. Sadly he never tasted the nut as, while en route to New Zealand, he suffered a shipboard injury which caused his premature death.
The first plantation was established in the 1880s but only when grafting techniques and mechanical processing were introduced, did this special nut become a commercial production success. It is the only native Australian plant that has become world known and is traded internationally as a commercial food product.
Coming to the big island of Hawaii
In 1882 William Herbert Purvis took the nut to Hawaii and planted them as seedlings in Kukuihaele. One of these trees is still growing and producing nuts. Nowadays the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation is the largest manufacturer in the world. The first plantation was started in 1948 and the first commercial crop was harvested and processed in 1956. The biggest plantation is in South Africa and has 3.700 acres.
Worldwide the demand for this delicious and healthy nut has grown over the years. The macadamia tree is not a fast grower and that is why it is now planted in many countries where the climate is favorable. You can find macadamia plantations in Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, Kenya, and Israel. Large orchards have been started in Guatemala, Brazil, Mexico, and Costa Rica. The United States can now boast of having this special crop, as California and Florida also have the right climate.
In 2015 the total global production was 160.000 tonnes. Every year there is more production, and in 2018, the global estimate was at 211.000 tonnes. South Africa had an estimated 54.000 tonnes therefor being the worlds leading producer.
Health Benefits of the Macadamia nut
Each nut contains about 18 calories so one should not stuff oneself. Every morning at breakfast time, I eat 3 nuts as part of my healthy diet. In general, nuts are good for all people, even babies.
During the day I will also eat almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and pistachio. Also, different seeds form part of my diet. A small handful of these health-giving nuts each day is considered to be sufficiently beneficial. You should take care to not overdo it and try to stick to the natural variety. Salted or coated in chocolate should not be the norm.
This nut is a powerhouse of good things
More than 75% of the fat in the macadamia nut is the monounsaturated fat, which has health benefits. The MUFAs, a specific monounsaturated fatty acid is not easily found in other foods. It is low in sugar (only 1 gram of natural sugar), and it is a low glycemic index food.
In studies, it was shown that eating tree nuts can lower the risk of heart disease. They help lower the “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and raises the HDL, considered the good cholesterol. There should be a healthy balance between the 2 cholesterols. The modern diet which is full of unhealthy fats often lets the bad cholesterol be too predominant.
This nut is high in tocotrienols, which are a type of vitamin E, and research has suggested it has anticancer abilities. It also protects the brain. It seems to be good to eat this nut when setting up a healthy regime in the wish to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson disease. It is important to protect the brain from oxidative stress and it was shown in a study on rats that the macadamia nut can do this. Furthermore, this nut contains flavonoids which can fight free radicals in the system.
Macadamia nuts in the kitchen
There are many dishes where you can incorporate this nut. Have a look at the following YouTube video, it might give you some good ideas.
As an Afterthought
Macadamia nuts are a gift of nature. It contains many health benefits so instead of grabbing that candy bar loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats, eat some nuts instead.
Source: Brigit Katz for the Smithsonian on June 4, 2019, Wikipedia
Photo Source: Pixabay
You might find it interesting to also read the following post. The way how we eat has an impact on the world.