Adding Macadamia Nuts to Your Diet Can Improve Your Cholesterol

Macadamia nuts—a type of tree nut that is native to Australia—have somewhat of a bad reputation because of their fat content. However, macadamia nuts are chock-full of healthy nutrients, including iron, vitamin B6, protein, and magnesium.

Like other tree nuts, some studies are showing that macadamia nuts might have some heart-healthy benefits, including keeping your lipid levels within a healthy range.

Macadamia nuts in bowl over black background.

Flavia Morlachetti / Getty Images


What Research Says

There haven’t been as many studies conducted on macadamia nuts as other popular nuts, such as walnutspistachios, and almonds—all of which have been shown to lower cholesterol.

The few small studies that have looked at the lipid-lowering effects of macadamia nuts involved people who were either healthy or overweight and had slightly high cholesterol levels.

In these studies, 40 to 90 grams of macadamia nuts were consumed daily for up to five weeks. The macadamia nuts were served plain, roasted, slightly salted, or had spices added to them. They were consumed alone or eaten with other foods as part of a healthy diet.

From these studies, it was discovered that:

  • Total cholesterol levels appeared to be lowered by anywhere between 3% and 9%.
  • LDL cholesterol levels were decreased by up to 9%.
  • HDL cholesterol levels varied widely. In one study, HDL was increased by up to 8%, whereas other studies saw a slight decrease in HDL levels.
  • Triglyceride levels were not significantly affected.

People consuming macadamia nuts also appeared to maintain their normal weight throughout the study periods.

Macadamia Nuts and Lower Cholesterol Levels

It’s not really known how macadamia nuts help lower cholesterol levels. However, there appear to be a few nutrients packed into the tiny nut that may contribute to its ability to lower cholesterol, including soluble fibermonounsaturated fat, and phytosterols.

Previous studies have shown that all of these nutrients have the ability to slightly lower LDL cholesterol. Studies have also shown that monounsaturated fats can increase HDL cholesterol levels.

Your Lipid-Lowering Diet

There are a few studies that show that at least a handful (40 grams, or about 1.5 ounces) of macadamia nuts may be able to slightly lower your LDL and total cholesterol levels. More studies would be needed to further investigate the cholesterol-lowering effects of macadamia nuts.

Macadamia nuts are high in many essential nutrients, and the fact that they are high in cholesterol-friendly ingredients such as fiber and monounsaturated fat makes them a good food to include in your lipid-lowering diet.

Macadamia nuts are very versatile, so there are many ways to include them in your healthy diet:

  • Grab a handful of macadamia nuts as a quick snack. (If you are watching your salt intake, make sure that you select unsalted varieties.)
  • Add macadamia nuts to salads.
  • Slice a few macadamia nuts and add them to your healthy entrees and sides.
  • Toss in a few macadamia nuts into any whole grain bread dough.

Although they are nutrient-rich, macadamia nuts are also high in calories and fat, so they may cause you to gain weight if you overindulge in them.

To prevent this, you should make sure that macadamia nuts are substituting other foods in your diet, not adding to them.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Stewart M. Macadamia nuts and cardiovascular disease risk factors: a review of clinical trials. The FASEB Journal, 2015. 29:923.6. doi:10.1096/fasebj.29.1_supplement.923.6

  2. Del Gobbo LC, Falk MC, Feldman R, Lewis K, Mozaffarian D. Effects of tree nuts on blood lipids, apolipoproteins, and blood pressure: systematic review, meta-analysis, and dose-response of 61 controlled intervention trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec;102(6):1347-56. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.110965

  3. Griel AE, Cao Y, Bagshaw DD, Cifelli AM, Holub B, Kris-Etherton P. A macadamia nut-rich diet reduces total and LDL-cholesterol in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 138, Issue 4, April 2008, Pages 761–767. doi:10.1093/jn/138.4.761

  4. Garg ML, Blake RJ, Wills RB, Clayton EH. Macadamia nut consumption modulates favourably risk factors for coronary artery disease in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Lipids. 2007 Jun;42(6):583-7. doi:10.1007/s11745-007-3042-8

  5. Jenkins DJ, Chiavaroli L, Wong JM, Kendall C, Lewis GF, Vidgen E, et al. Adding monounsaturated fatty acids to a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods in hypercholesterolemia. CMAJ. 2010 Dec 14;182(18):1961-7. doi:10.1503/cmaj.092128

By Jennifer Moll, PharmD
Jennifer Moll, MS, PharmD, is a pharmacist actively involved in educating patients about the importance of heart disease prevention.