Macadamia nuts, also known as Queensland nuts or Australian nuts, are native to Australia and now grow throughout the world, according to California Rare Fruit Growers. These gourmet nuts are so popular that demand continues to exceed supply, despite their high cost relative to other nuts. Moderate portions of macadamia nuts are heart-healthy options, and you can enjoy them whole or in nut butter form.
Lower Cholesterol Levels
Macadamia nut butter can lower levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol in your blood and reduce your risk for heart disease. Macadamias contain dietary fiber and phytosterols. These plant nutrients lower your total and LDL cholesterol levels, according to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Macadamia nut butter can also help lower your cholesterol levels because of its healthy unsaturated fats. Spreading macadamia nut butter instead of regular butter on bread lowers your intake of saturated fat.
Lower Blood Pressure
Macadamia nuts are naturally low in sodium, which raises your blood pressure, and high in potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure. Macadamias have among the most concentrated sources of monounsaturated fatty acids of all types of nuts, according to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Monounsaturated fats also help lower your blood pressure.
Alternative to Peanut Butter
Macadamia nut butter can be a safe alternative to peanut butter if you are allergic to peanuts but not to tree nuts. Allergic reactions after eating peanuts can lead to symptoms such as hives, wheezing, a runny nose and even anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening, according to Mayo Clinic. Individuals with peanut allergies may safely be able to eat macadamia nut butter instead of peanut butter. Avoid macadamia nuts and contact your doctor if you suspect you have a macadamia nut allergy.
Macadamia nut butter is high in calories, with about 200 calories in a 2-tablespoon serving, or the equivalent of about 1 ounce of macadamias. Weight gain will occur if you eat more calories than you expend. To avoid eating too many calories from macadamia nut butter, measure out your portions and eat macadamia nut butter instead of other high-calorie foods, not in addition. Choose unsalted varieties of macadamia nut butter to keep your sodium intake in a healthy range.
Macadamia nut butter may be available at specialty stores or farmers markets. You can try making your own from roasted macadamia nuts and a small amount of oil, if you want a thinner butter. You can bake it into cookies, use it to make sandwiches or dip fruit or vegetables into it, just as you might use peanut butter.
Natalie Stein specializes in weight loss and sports nutrition. She is based in Los Angeles and is an assistant professor with the Program for Public Health at Michigan State University. Stein holds a master of science degree in nutrition and a master of public health degree from Michigan State University.