Macadamia nuts are one of the ‘signature crops’ of Hawaii – and they are good for your health!
These nuts grow on trees, and there are many macadamia trees on the Big Island: over 17000 acres. If you are interested in sampling these local gems, you can either visit a macadamia nut orchard and collect and crack them yourself, or you can buy macadamia nuts at one of our farmers markets or supermarkets.
Macadamia nuts in local food and candies
Macadamias are used in many different foods, ranging from macadamia nut coffee to macadamia nut pesto to macadamia nut butter. The nuts can be eaten raw or roasted, whole or chopped. Our personal favorite macadamia snacks are chocolate covered macadamia nuts. We heartily recommend you try some if you happen to see them at the market!
Macadamia nut health benefits
Did you know that macadamia nuts also are very healthy? Macadamia nuts are tree nuts, just like for example almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios. Like these nuts, the macadamia nut has a claim on many health benefits. Macadamias are a good source of protein, calcium, potassium and dietary fiber and very low in sodium. The nuts may be fat, but they contain more heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids than any other nut! This is also confirmed in the scientific literature:
- A diet based on macadamia nuts also has been found to significantly lower cholesterol levels! (Archives of internal medicine, Apr. 2000, source)
- Another study in the Journal of nutrition (Apr. 2003, source) demonstrates that macadamia nut consumption as part of a healthy diet favorably modifies the plasma lipid profile in men with high cholesterol levels despite their diet being high in fat. (lipids are a broad group of molecules that naturally occur in your blood)
If you want to visit an orchard yourself to buy macadamia nuts you can do so close to Hilo and Kona.
the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation (website) has a plantation that is located six miles south of Hilo on Macadamia Road, on the east side of the Big Island. At Mauna Loa you find a 2,500-acre orchard, a nut processing plant, and a chocolate factory.
If you are on the Kona coast try the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company (website) on Maluokalani Street in Kawaihae. They have a visitor center with free samples and you can make self-guided tours of their plantation.
Bed and Breakfasts in Macadamia nut orchards
If you like to go really ‘nuts’, you can spend the night at a macadamia orchard. This could be the perfect conclusion to a day of touring the Kona Coffee farms in the area. You could go for example have a look at the Rainbow Plantation B&B located in the lush and tropical south Kona district.