Incorporating macadamia nuts into a heart healthy diet can reduce cardiovascular disease risks according to Penn State researchers.
“We looked at macadamia nuts because they are not currently included in the health claim for tree nuts, while other tree nuts are recommended as part of a healthy diet,” says Dr. Amy E. Griel, recent Ph.D. recipient in nutritional sciences. “Macadamia nuts have higher levels of monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, compared with other tree nuts.”
The researchers used a controlled feeding study to compare a heart-healthy diet with 1.5 ounces – a small handful of macadamia nuts – to a standard American diet. The participants had slightly elevated cholesterol levels, normal blood pressure and were not taking lipid lowering drugs. Researchers randomly assigned participants to either the macadamia nut diet or the standard American diet, providing all meals for the participants for five weeks. The participants then switched diets and continued eating only food provided by the researchers for another five weeks.
The Healthy Heart diet with macadamia nuts did reduce total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels compared with the standard American diet. “We observed a reduction in LDL similar to that seen with other tree nuts like walnuts and almonds,” says Griel.
Individual calorie levels were used for each participant so that they did not gain or lose weight during the study. Both diets were matched for total fat, containing 33 percent calories from total fat. …
The macadamia nut diet included macadamia nuts as a snack, mixed into meals, as a salad topping and in cookies and muffins. …
Raw Macadamia Cheesecake
2 cups macadamia nuts, soaked 4 hours
1½ cups cashews, soaked 4 hours
½ cup pitted medjool dates
¼ cup dried, shredded coconut
6 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup raw agave nectar, maple syrup or sweetener of choice
1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups mixed berries, e. g., blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
- Place macadamia nuts in large bowl; cover with cold water. Place cashews in separate bowl; cover with cold water. After 4 hours rinse and drain soaked nuts; set aside.
- Pulse macadamia nuts and dates in food processor to a sticky crumb-like consistency. Sprinkle coconut on bottom of 8-inch pie pan. Press nut/date mixture onto coconut to make crust.
- Place cashews, coconut oil, lime juice, agave nectar, salt and 6 Tbsp. water in bowl of food processor. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into food processor bowl and puree until fluffy smooth. Pour mixture onto crust; freeze 2 hours, or until firm. Remove from freezer. Slice and transfer to serving platter. Defrost in refrigerator 1 hour, or on countertop 30 minutes.
- Top with berries and serve.