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Are Macadamia Nuts Healthy? A Deep Dive Into Their Nutrition Profile

Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD
April 18, 2023
Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD
Registered dietitian
By Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD
Registered dietitian
Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD is a registered dietitian and writer based in San Francisco. She holds a master's degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University and an undergraduate degree in Dietetics.
macadamia nuts
Image by mbg Creative x Solstizia x Boonchuay1970 / iStock
April 18, 2023
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Thanks to their rich flavor and versatility, macadamia nuts have become increasingly popular in recent years as an eco-friendly alternative to other healthy nuts, such as almonds. Besides making a tasty addition to baked goods and desserts, you can now find macadamias in milks, oils, and nut butters.

But are macadamia nuts healthy? We reached out to a few experts to learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of macadamia nuts, plus a few delicious ways you can add them to your diet.

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What are macadamia nuts?

Known for their buttery taste and texture, macadamia nuts are a type of small, round nuts derived from macadamia trees. These trees are grown in tropical climates and can take five years to bear any fruit, which is why macadamia nuts often come with such a steep price tag.

Compared to other nuts, macadamias can be a tough nut to crack and are therefore typically sold shelled and ready to enjoy. They can be consumed raw or roasted and can be added to a wide range of recipes, including cookies, pies, and even pesto. Plus, they have a variety of other uses and can be blended to make plant-based milk, ground into nut butter, or cold-pressed to create a healthy cooking oil.


Macadamia nuts are small tree nuts that have a buttery, sweet taste. They tend to be more expensive than other nuts because they are slow to grow.
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Nutritional information

Macadamia nuts are a stellar source of nutrients, offering a diverse assortment of essential vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy fats in each serving. In fact, 1 ounce (10-12 kernels, around a handful) of macadamia nuts offers the following nutrients1:

  • Calories: 204
  • Fat: 21.5 grams
  • Saturated fat: 3.4 grams
  • Potassium: 104 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 4 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 2.4 grams
  • Sugar: 1.3 grams
  • Protein: 2.2 grams
  • Manganese: 1.17 milligrams
  • Thiamine: 0.34 milligram
  • Copper: 0.214 milligram
  • Magnesium: 36.9 milligrams
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Macadamia nuts are particularly high in monounsaturated fats, a type of heart-healthy fat also found in other ingredients like avocados and olive oil. They're also loaded with manganese, a micronutrient needed for bone formation2, immune function, reproductive health, and more. Additionally, thiamine, another key nutrient in macadamias, is involved in energy metabolism3 and cell function.

Health benefits of macadamia nuts

Not only are they eco-friendly and rich in antioxidants, but macadamias may also promote weight loss, enhance gut health, and more. Here are a few of the top health benefits of the nut:

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They can help keep your heart healthy.

Macadamia nuts are brimming with heart-healthy fats, including monounsaturated fatty acids. According to the American Heart Association4, mono- and polyunsaturated fats should make up the majority of fats in your diet and can offer a host of health benefits when enjoyed in moderation.

Plus, macadamia nuts are also a great source of dietary fiber5, which has been linked to lower cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of heart disease.

"Many dietary intervention trials with nuts, including macadamias, showed a beneficial effect on blood lipids6, with the lowering of total and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increase in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)," explains Joan Sabaté, M.D., DrPH, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Loma Linda University School of Public Health and researcher that has conducted multiple studies on the health effects of nut consumption.

In addition to improving cholesterol levels, some research has also found that consuming at least two servings of tree nuts per week could be associated with up to a 19% and 23% lower risk of heart disease and coronary heart disease7, respectively.


They're sustainable.

While all types of nuts require water to produce, macadamia nuts are often hailed as an eco-friendly alternative to other nuts, such as almonds, because they are typically sourced from areas with regular rainfall. In contrast, about 80% of almonds worldwide are produced in California, placing a strain8 on the state's already limited water supply.

Compared to animal products, nuts are also a significantly more sustainable protein source. "Their environmental impacts are less than the equivalent foods rich in proteins and fat from animal origin," says Sabaté. Studies show that nuts have a lower environmental footprint9 and account for significantly less land use and greenhouse gas emissions than red meat, fish, and poultry.

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They may support weight loss.

Even though macadamia nuts are high in fat and calories, they can actually be a great addition to a healthy diet for weight loss. Some research suggests that tree nuts could even protect against weight gain, thanks to their ability to reduce appetite10, boost metabolism, and enhance the health of the gut microbiome.

According to Kelly Jones, M.S., R.D., CSSD, a performance dietitian, the unsaturated fats found in macadamia nuts can promote the release of certain hormones that help keep you feeling full. "Adding some to a meal low in fat may help with appetite regulation between meals," says Jones.

Interestingly, one analysis in nearly 421,000 people found that increased intake of nuts11 was linked to a significant reduction in body weight, body mass index (BMI), and belly fat. Another study conducted by Sabaté and colleagues found that consuming macadamia nuts daily for eight weeks did not cause an increase in body weight12, body mass index, belly fat, or total body fat, despite their high calorie content.


They boost gut health.

With a whopping 2.4 grams of fiber packed into each serving, munching on macadamias may help support regularity and enhance gut health. While there's no research on macadamia nuts and digestive health specifically, one review found that nut consumption improved the diversity13 of the gut microbiome, which is believed to play a key role14 in the development of chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

Nuts can also stimulate the production of butyrate13, a short-chain fatty acid that brings big benefits when it comes to gut health. In addition to alleviating inflammation, research suggests that butyrate can boost immunity15, promote healthy gut flora, and strengthen the intestinal barrier.


They're rich in antioxidants.

Like other types of nuts, macadamia nuts are a rich source of antioxidants. Although the exact nutritional composition can vary depending on the specific type, macadamia nuts are especially rich in tocotrienols16, a form of vitamin E with potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effects17. What's more, macadamias are also rich in flavonoids18, a group of natural plant compounds with disease-fighting properties19.

Allergies and side effects

Despite the many potential health benefits associated with macadamia nuts, there are a couple of drawbacks to consider as well. For starters, people who are allergic to tree nuts should steer clear of macadamias and other types of tree nuts. Symptoms of a tree nut allergy can include digestive issues, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, and even anaphylaxis.

Macadamia nuts are also high in fat. While they can still be enjoyed in moderation, you may need to adjust your diet as needed to account for the extra calories if weight loss is your goal, according to Sabaté.

Jones also points out that macadamia nuts are also lower in protein than other nuts and should be paired with a more substantial source of protein if they become a regular snack in your rotation. Because many prepackaged types of macadamia nuts are high in added sugar and sodium, you should check the ingredients list carefully as well.

Macadamia nuts vs. other nuts

Besides macadamia nuts, there are several other types of nuts that are similar in terms of taste, texture, and nutritional value. Here's a closer look at how macadamias stack up:

Macadamia nuts vs. Brazil nuts

Like macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts are known for their high fat content, buttery texture, and rich taste. However, Brazil nuts are much higher in selenium20 and are most commonly enjoyed raw or blanched rather than roasted.

Macadamia nuts vs. hazelnuts

Often featured in cakes, cookies, and flavored coffee blends, hazelnuts have a nutty, slightly sweet taste, especially when roasted. Similar to macadamias, they're also rich in manganese and antioxidants but are much higher in vitamin E21.

Macadamia nuts vs. cashews

These nuts have a distinct, kidney-shaped appearance, mild flavor, and rich texture. Compared to macadamias, cashews pack over double the amount of protein22 in each serving but are slightly lower in calories and healthy fats.

Raw or roasted macadamia nuts: Is one healthier?

Macadamia nuts can be eaten raw or roasted and incorporated into a wide range of recipes.

To roast macadamia nuts, simply toss them with a bit of butter or oil, spread in a single layer on a lined sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes at around 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people also claim that soaking raw macadamia nuts for up to two hours before cooking or consuming can help bump up nutrient absorption, though research is mixed23 on whether or not this actually works.

Whether it's healthier to opt for raw or roasted macadamia nuts isn't completely clear. For example, one study found that roasting24 decreased the amounts of certain beneficial compounds found in nuts and increased harmful chemicals, like acrylamide. On the other hand, a recent study comparing the nutritional value of raw and roasted macadamia nuts found that roasting actually increased the content of polyphenols by almost 26%, improved resistance25 to oxidation by over 21%, and doubled sensory scores for taste and aroma.

The verdict

Instead of focusing on whether raw or roasted macadamias are healthier, Jones recommends simply choosing whichever tastes best based on your own personal preferences.

Macadamia nut butter

Known for its high fat content and rich flavor, macadamia nut butter can be a nutritious and delicious alternative to other nut butters. Though not quite as common as peanut butter or almond butter, it can be found in some health food stores or even made at home by tossing macadamia nuts into a food processor with a pinch of sea salt.

Slather it onto fresh fruits or veggies, add a spoonful to smoothies, or swap it in for other nut butters in dips or dressings to add a boost of protein, fat, and fiber to your daily diet.

Macadamia nut recipes

Macadamia nuts have a rich flavor and creamy texture that works well in a wide range of recipes. Though most often featured in sweet dishes like cookies and pie crusts, there are a variety of other tasty ways to bump up your intake of this nutritious nut.

Try adding macadamia nuts to salads and soups for an extra crunch, swap them in for other nuts in homemade granola or trail mix, or pair with breadcrumbs and herbs to make a coating for fish. You can also whip up macadamia nut fudge, toffee, or banana bread for an easy way to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Here are a few flavorful macadamia nut recipes to help get you going:

Buying & storage tips

Macadamia nuts are sold shelled and can be purchased raw or roasted, depending on how you plan to use them.

Be sure to check the color carefully when purchasing. Raw macadamia nuts should be light brown in color, whereas dark or discolored kernels are often a sign of nuts that are past their prime. You should also skip macadamia nuts that appear dry, shriveled, or moldy or have a bitter taste or smell.

Because of their high fat content, proper storage is key to preventing macadamia nuts from going rancid. Place them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge or freezer to maximize their shelf life. While raw macadamia nuts typically last for around six months in the pantry, they can stay fresh for up to nine months in the fridge or an entire year in the freezer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many macadamia nuts should I eat a day?

Many experts recommend aiming for a handful—or around 1 ounce—of nuts each day as part of a heart-healthy diet. While you can definitely enjoy more than this amount each day, just be sure to adjust your diet as needed to account for the extra calories and fat that macadamia nuts provide.

Are macadamia nuts the healthiest nut?

Macadamia nuts are a great source of monounsaturated fats, along with fiber and antioxidants. However, there are many other healthy varieties of nuts available as well, all of which bring a unique set of nutrients and beneficial compounds to the table.

How much protein is in macadamia nuts?

Each ounce of macadamia nuts—or about 10-12 kernels—provides about 2.2 grams of plant-based protein.

The takeaway

Macadamia nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats and can help enhance heart health, regulate appetite, and keep your gut healthy. They're also incredibly versatile, making a tasty addition to sweet and savory dishes alike. Try adding roasted macadamias to salads or sautéed veggies or mixing them into your favorite desserts to squeeze some extra nutrients into your daily diet. Looking for a more affordable option? Here are a few other healthy nuts that are worth adding to your snacking and cooking rotation.

Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD author page.
Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD
Registered dietitian

Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD is a registered dietitian and writer based in San Francisco. She holds a master's degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University and an undergraduate degree in Dietetics.

Rachael works as a freelance writer and editor for several health and wellness publications. She is passionate about sharing evidence-based information on nutrition and health and breaking down complex topics into content that is engaging and easy to understand.

When she's not writing, Rachael enjoys experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, reading, gardening, and spending time with her husband and dogs.