Macadamia nuts have long had a bad reputation, mainly because of their high fat content. However, between 78 and 86 percent of the fat is monounsaturated (the good thing for you, heart-healthy kind of fat). Monounsaturated fat helps lower cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes.
In addition, macadamia nuts are one of the only food sources that contain palmitoleic acid (a type of monounsaturated fatty acid that can speed up fat metabolism and thus reduce the body's ability to store fat).
Because of its high monounsaturated fatty acid content, macadamia nut oil is fast becoming a favorite among top chefs around the world. Not only is it healthier than olive oil and canola oil, but many people believe it tastes better. In addition, macadamia nut oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil, which means it can be cooked at higher temperatures without decomposing and losing its flavor.
Another health benefit of macadamia nuts is their flavonoids (the same compounds that give red wine its healthy reputation). Flavanoids are compounds that occur naturally in plants. They help repair damaged plant cells and protect the plant from environmental toxins. When we eat these plants, our body converts the flavanoids into antioxidants. Antioxidants seek out and destroy free radicals (destructive particles in the body that cause heart disease, among other things). In this way the flavonoids help lower blood pressure and protect against some forms of cancer.
Perhaps the best reason to enjoy macadamia nuts is that they not only help your body reduce cholesterol, but are themselves 100 percent cholesterol-free. And, as if you needed even more convincing, macadamia nuts are a source of vitamin A, iron, protein (two grams per serving), thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. They also contain small amounts of selenium (an antioxidant), calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.
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