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Macadamia are native to east coast rainforests of north eastern parts of Australia. They are now grown widely for their sweet, crunchy nuts in many parts of the tropical and subtropical areas of mineral rich Hawaiian islands, Middle America, Brazil and South African regions.
Macadamia trees grow to about 15 meter in height, usually reach maturity and begin to produce fruits around the age of seven.
There are about seven species of macadamia grown in their wild natural habitat however, only two of which are edible and cultivated in the horticulture farms around the world. Macadamia integrifolia has a smooth shelled nut whereas Macadamia tetraphylla produces nuts with a rough shell.
During each summer the tree bears elongated chain cream white colored flower racemes. Each fruit features 0.5 to 1 inch in diameter consisting of husk enclosing single elliptical to conical seed or kernel. The nut has smooth or rough outer surface depending upon the variety and has a tough shell. Inside edible kernel is white, has smooth surface with conical shape.
Health benefits of Macadamia nuts
Macadamia nuts have sweet taste and are rich source of energy, provide about 718 cal/100 g, one of the highest among nuts.
The nuts are packed with many contain many health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.
100 g of macadamia provides 8.6 g of dietary fiber and good source of phytosterols and beta-sitosterols but contains no cholesterol.
Macadamia are free in gluten and, therefore are a popular ingredient in the preparation of gluten free food formulas. These formula preparations are in fact healthy alternatives in people with wheat food allergy and celiac disease.
The nuts are rich source of mono-unsaturated fatty like oleic acid (18:1) and palmitoleic acids (16:1). Studies suggest that monounsaturated fats in the diet help to lower total as well as LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels in the blood. Mediterranean diet which is rich in dietary fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
The nuts are excellent source of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc. 100 g nuts provide 3.6 mcg of selenium. Selenium is cardio-protective and an important anti-oxidant cofactor for glutathione peroxidase enzyme.
They are also rich in many important B-complex vitamins, vital for body functions. 100 g of nuts provide 15% of niacin, 21% of pyridoxine (vit.B-6), 100% of thiamin, and 12% of riboflavin.
The nuts are also containing small amounts of vitamin-C, vitamin E. Both these fat soluble vitamins are potent anti-oxidant activities which serve to protect cell membranes and DNA from harmful oxygen free radicals.
Sweet, refreshing macadamias are packed with essential minerals, vitamins and heart friendly mono-unsaturated fatty acids.Here are some cooking tips:
Macadamia are usually eaten on their own by cracking them open using nut cracker machine. They can also be enjoyed by roasting, salted or sweetened.
Macadamia nuts are crunchy, yet pleasantly sweet in taste and favorable aroma.
Macadamia blends nicely with sweet delicacies. Roasted and crushed macadamia often sprinkled over salads, desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice cream based preparations, biscuits, sweets, coated in chocolate and cakes.
The nuts are often sprinkled over desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice cream based recipes.
They are widely used in confectionery, as an addition to biscuits, sweets and cakes.
Macadamia butter is gluten free and rich in protein. Can be advised in gluten sensitive individuals in the preparation of sandwiches, salad dressings, sauces etc…