High-fat foods used to be the most demonized of all kitchen staples, but thanks to current research and slightly less hysteric marketing hype, such things as nuts, oils and seeds are getting their due as healthy options.
"Macadamia nuts are high in monounsaturated fats, low in net carbohydrates and a good source of copper, manganese and thiamin," says registered dietician Danielle Bertiger, MS, RD. "Monounsaturated fatty acids have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels (the bad kind), especially when they are used in place of saturated fats and refined carbohydrates in one's diet. Net carbs are important to consider because it clues you in on how much fiber something contains in relation to the amount of total carbohydrates present. Having more fiber is crucial to gut health. Copper assists with iron absorption and transport in the body while manganese and thiamin are essential for carbohydrate metabolism."
And while all that sounds great, we still live in a society that tends to obsess over numbers. So at 203 calories and 21.4 grams of fat per serving (a serving is about 10 to 12 nut kernels — i.e., pure nut not doused in chocolate), are macadamias really a wholesome snack?
"Although nuts are high in calories, they are also packed with fiber, heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals essential to our diets," Bertiger says. "Having a small handful is a filling and nutritious snack to tide you over between meals or can be used as a way to round out a meal (i.e. on top of a salad or yogurt bowl). They are a particularly good substitute for packaged ultra-processed snacks like potato chips. Calorie for calorie, an ounce of chips and an ounce of nuts are equivalent, but the protein and fiber in the nuts will keep you energized, full and focused."
And even without the chocolate layer, macadamias have a distinct flavor profile that will likely keep you satisfied. "The delicious taste of the macadamia nut is due to its high oil content of 72 percent," Sako says. "Processors can determine the oil content by a float test — a nut with 72 percent oil will float. If the oil content is less than that, it will sink and be disposed or used another way."
"Don't fear fats!" Bertiger says. "They're essential for hormone health, optimal brain function and absorption of many nutrients."