Macadamia nuts are together with Kona Coffee two of the ‘signature crops’ of Hawaii – and they are good for your health!
Macadamia 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 them yourself, or buy macadamia nuts at the farmers market or in the supermarket.
Macadamia nuts in local food and candies
Macadamia nuts are one of the ‘signature crops’ of Hawaii. Macadamias are used in different menu items, ranging from macadamia nut coffee to macadamia nut pesto to macadamia nut butter. The nuts can be eaten raw or roasted, whole or chopped.
Some of our favorite macadamia snacks include chocolate covered macadamia nuts or white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. You are sure to encounter some of these items on your vacation on the Big Island and when you do, we heartily recommend you try them.
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 go to 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.