A Tropical Alternative to Almonds

Medically reviewed in February 2021

Have you grown tired of walnuts and almonds? Try this tasty nut Hawaii is known for: macadamia nuts.

Turns out they're on the heart-healthy list -- even though they contain saturated fat. In a study, a diet enhanced with macadamias significantly lowered both total and LDL cholesterol.

Heart-Friendly Fats
The fact that macadamias are so rich in unsaturated fats -- more than almost any other nut -- appears to make up for the fact that they also contain some saturated fat. And here's the heart-healthy proof: When people with moderately high cholesterol ate an average American diet for 5 weeks, then a diet with a handful of macadamia nuts mixed in daily for another 5 weeks, the nut diet lowered total and LDL cholesterol about 9 percent more than the nut-free fare.

The Nuts and Bolts
But keep in mind that although the study diets were controlled so that they both had the same amount of total fat, the nut diet had less saturated fat and more monounsaturated fat. So if you eat macadamias, use them to kick out a source of unhealthy fat in your diet -- don't just add them to what you already eat. For example, use them to make a healthy snack mix that will satisfy cravings while keeping your blood sugar stable.

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