On July 20, 2017, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved a petition filed by Royal Hawaiian to claim that consuming macadamia nuts can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease under certain circumstances. This is the specific claim the FDA agreed to allow:
"Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces per day of macadamia nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and not resulting in increased intake of saturated fat or calories may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease." See nutritional information for fat (and calorie) content.
This statement may now be applied in connection to the consumption of whole or chopped macadamia nuts, including raw, blanched, roasted, salted or unsalted, and/or lightly coated and/or flavored macadamia nuts.
Scott Wallace, Royal Hawaiian, stated the following regarding the FDA decision "Research about the benefits macadamia nuts have for heart health has existed for decades, and we've worked tirelessly to secure the legal right to share this with consumers. Many people associate almonds, pistachios and walnuts with better health, but this momentous decision from the FDA now puts macadamia nuts in a similar category. We want consumers to know that there is real, supportive evidence with respect to the benefits of consuming macadamia nuts. Consumers are aware of the benefits of consuming other tree nuts like almonds and walnuts, we want them to know similar benefits are available from consuming macadamia nuts." Royal Hawaiian Orchards makes a variety of options that are now widely available across the country, so it's easy to enjoy both the great taste and the benefits of macadamias almost anywhere in the country.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, the majority of deaths in the U.S. each year are caused by heart disease or stroke. Scientists continue to seek preventative measures such as finding ways to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, a known culprit behind cardiovascular disease that may lead to a heart attack or stroke.
In the 1990s and 2000s, scientists first discovered that adding macadamias to the diet appeared to lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Since then, researchers have been exploring the connection, resulting in a growing body of scientific evidence supporting the idea that a diet that including macadamia nuts can help lower LDL cholesterol levels
Cholesterol, a fatty substance your body needs, is made up of low-density and high-density lipoproteins, or LDL and HDL, which need to be kept in balance. When LDL is too high, it can stick to blood vessel walls. HDL cholesterol acts as the cleanup crew, collecting the excess LDL and taking it to the liver to be eliminated.
Too much LDL overwhelms the HDL, so that LDL builds up on cell walls creating a substance called plaque, which can gradually clog blood vessels and cut off blood supply to the heart. Plaque can also break open and create blood clots that travel to the heart, causing heart attacks, and to the brain, causing strokes. By lowering the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood, you can improve the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol, giving the HDL a chance to clean up the excess LDL and prevent plaque from building up.
Macadamia nuts are an excellent source of thiamin and manganese. They are a good source of dietary fiber and copper and contain monounsaturated fat, protein, magnesium, iron and phytosterols. While the complex mix of nutrients in every macadamia nut may help lower bad cholesterol, scientists are now exploring whether macadamia nut’s unique nutrient blend might offer other benefits as well. Research conducted in recent years indicates that macadamia nuts may lessen other risk factors related to heart disease.
Macadamia nuts may fight insulin resistance by helping the body become more responsive to insulin. Improving insulin sensitivity can help people with pre-diabetes process food better and lessen the chance of moving into full-blown diabetes.
Researchers are looking into macadamia nuts ability to reduce inflammation, which testing confirms is commonly present in heart attack and stroke patients. Scientists believe this may be a case of the solution becoming part of the problem and that inflammation may come about because the body’s defense system perceives plaque buildup as foreign and abnormal. When the white blood cells fail in their mission to fight, the cells die and become another ingredient in plaque’s composition.
Researchers are also studying whether macadamia nuts act as an antioxidant to limit oxidative stress, a condition connected to a number of diseases, including heart disease. Oxidative stress occurs when chemical reactions in the body create peroxide and harmful free radicals that damage cells.
The connection between macadamia nuts and heart disease continues to be an important and interesting topic of research. More and more studies support the correlation between the consumption of macadamia nuts and heart health. Though on going research is necessary to determine exactly how macadamia nuts support overall health, you can still enjoy your favorite macadamia nuts knowing you’re making your heart (and you’re taste buds) happy!
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