Raw macadamia nuts

Americans eat a lot of nuts, and a lot of those nuts are peanuts. Peanuts and peanut butter are 67% of our national nut consumption, in fact. It’s probably a good idea for us to eat more of all kinds of nuts, though, since research from Harvard suggests that two servings of nuts a day can be helpful in warding off diabetes and heart disease. And some studies have even shown a possibility the nuts can improve brain function. A study of 64 adults over eight weeks showed improved comprehension among those eating walnuts, for example.

And while we know all about cashew nut benefits and the pecan family of nuts, one of the lesser known nuts is actually one of the best: the macadamia nut. Macadamia nut products are a bit harder to find, and macadamia nut benefits are less well known than those of walnuts or pecans. But they are a great addition to our roster of nuts and seeds, with lots of manganese, thiamine, magnesium, copper, and vitamin B1 as well as protein, healthy fats, and fiber. If you’ve ever wondered about the macadamia nut, read on to learn all the little-known facts you never knew about them:

The Macadamia Tree is From Australia

Although we in American usually associate these nuts with Hawaii now, the first macadamia tree wasn’t taken to Hawaii till 1881. The first plantations were founded about 40 years later, which is also when the University of Hawaii decided to undertake a 20 year study of the macadamia tree. They identified strains that consistently yielded good fruit, and after that, Hawaii and macadamia nuts were forever linked.

Macadamia Nuts are the Hardest in the World

It’s unclear how any humans ever learned to eat this nut, since it takes 300 pounds of pressure per square inch to get the thing out of its shell! That’s why you’ll never find these nuts sold in the shell. That would never be a popular item.

They Come in Some Seriously Weird Flavors

Although they’re great on their own, and especially when roasted and salted, you can get these nuts–especially in Hawaii–flavored with wasabi and mustard, coconut, jalapeno and chocolate, garlic, onion, and even SPAM.

They Grow on an Evergreen Tree

We don’t usually think of a tropical nut and evergreens together, but the macadamia tree is actually a kind of evergreen that grows all year round. It loves deep, moist, rich soil and lots of rainfall. The leaves of the macadamia tree are pale green, which then turn to dark green. The tree grows flowers a half inch long and creamy white, but with no petals.

Macadamia Products are Valued for Quite a Few Possible Health Benefits

There haven’t been full scientific studies into all of these, but a lot of people swear by them. Since the nuts contain good levels of copper, B1, magnesium, and manganese–all of which are essential to healthy neurotransmitter function in our brains, macadamia nuts are thought to be helpful to brain health. It also doesn’t hurt that they have palmitoleic acid, which is known to protect nerve cells. Other people love to put macadamia oil on their hair to prevent breakage, and on the skin. Finally, macadamia nuts are known to be high in antioxidant content.

Macadamia nuts are some of the best nuts around, so make them part of your two servings a day if you can!

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