The magic nut. Both tasty and healthy. Have you ever tried to crack one, though? Bloody hard. That is why they are expensive. But they are totally worth it. Macadamias are great in savoury and sweet dishes, and make amazing nut milk (like, the best).
Native to Australia, macadamia trees are only found naturally in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. The small Queensland town of Gympie has been identified as the origin of 70% of the world’s macadamia nuts. New research into the fatty seed has revealed the world’s dominant commercial cultivar – grown in Hawaii – originated from a single tree in southern Queensland from the 19th century.
Macadamia nuts are the fruits of the macadamia tree. They are also called Queensland nuts, bush nuts, maroochi nuts, Hawaii nuts, and bauple nuts and are commercially very important.
Macadamias are an underestimated nutrient-powerhouse. A rich source of essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, iron, B vitamins, and folate. They also have a little protein and pack a healthy dose of good fats and antioxidants.
◎ Common Name: Macadamia Nut
◎ Scientific or Latin Name: Macadamia integrifolia
◎ Comparison: Raw cashew nut
◎ Seasonality: All year fresh
◎ Region: Rainforest
◎ Taste Profile: Macadamia nuts have a rich, buttery flavour. Roasting or salting the nuts draws out their natural, subtle sweetness and creamy texture. Because the nuts are grown in tropical climates, their flavour profile pairs well with lemon, coffee, and coconut.
◎ Types: Macadamia is a genus of four species of trees indigenous to Australia, and constituting part of the plant family Proteaceae. They are native to northeastern New South Wales and central and southeastern Queensland specifically.
Three of the four species — Macadamia integrifolia, Macadamia ternifolia and Macadamia tetraphylla — are of commercial importance. The other species, M. jansenii, produces poisonous nuts resulting from toxic amounts of cyanogenic glycosides.
- Macadamia nuts are rich in oleic acid and omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids, which are also found in olive oil.
- Macadamias are rich sources of vitamin A, iron, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folates.
- They also contain moderate amounts of zinc, copper, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.
- Macadamia nuts contain antioxidants like polyphenols, amino acids, flavones, and selenium.
- They are also good sources of carbohydrates like sucrose, fructose, glucose, maltose, and some starch-based carbohydrates.
Traditional Aboriginal Food and Uses
In Australian Aboriginal languages, the fruit is known by names such as bauple, gyndl, jindilli and boombera.
The aborigines would express the oil from the nuts and use it as a binder with ochres and clay for face and body painting. This was a method of preserving clan symbols of the dreaming. The oil was also used neat for skin rejuvenation and as a carrier where it was mixed with other plant extracts to treat ailments.
Western & Modern
Macadamia nut oil can be used to cook a wide variety of delicious foods. It works very well as a salad dressing because it has an almost sweet and nutty flavour. It is also a wonderful oil for frying and baking. The flavour of macadamia nuts tastes great with everything from fruits to cheese and veggies. You can process macadamia nuts as butter and use it in the place of peanut butter.
You can also use it topically and give your skin and hair all the benefits it has to offer. To condition your hair, warm it and massage your hair and scalp with it. To keep your skin young-looking and moisturised, you can use it on your body after your daily shower. You can also use this fantastic oil to treat damaged cuticles.
As they are rich in fibre and other minerals like magnesium and potassium, these nuts improve heart health. They help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The fibre in these nuts also aids diabetes treatment, and the antioxidants rejuvenate your skin and hair. These nutrient-rich nuts can aid and promote improved health for the following:
- Promote heart health by lowering cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Reduce the risk of coronary artery disease by combatting oxidative stress and inflammation.
- The monounsaturated fats in macadamia nuts can improve lipid blood profiles and
- Lower blood pressure due to the potassium content of the nut, thereby contributing to heart health.
- Macadamia nuts have a unique profile of macro and micronutrients and other bioactive compounds that help improve blood sugar levels and counter the ill effects of diabetes.
- Some experts believe that macadamia nuts may also help prevent abdominal obesity, which is one of the four factors leading to metabolic syndrome.
- Macadamia nuts are good sources of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, three minerals that are known to boost bone health. They are also low in sodium. The phosphorus in the nuts promotes the mineralization of teeth and bones.
- The nuts contain fibre, which may promote gut health. Studies show that dietary fibre can have beneficial effects on gut microbiota.
- Macadamia nuts are also good sources of alpha-linoleic acid, a type of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid that helps treat inflammation and prevents subsequent arthritis.
- The omega-9 that these nuts contain can enhance memory and prevent several neurological diseases.
- The monounsaturated fatty acids in macadamia nuts can accelerate fat metabolism.
- Can Help Fight Oxidative Stress
- Macadamia nuts contain tocotrienols and squalane, two important compounds that prevent sunlight-induced oxidative stress on the skin.
Note: The term 'Bush Tucker' and 'Bush Food' are not Warndu's preferred terms for Australian Native Ingredients or Australian Botanicals.
Images: © Luisa Brimble