As a delicious source of plant-based protein, macadamias tick a lot of boxes when it comes to how modern consumers want to eat. But research has revealed that what has traditionally been one of macadamias’ biggest barriers to consumption may in fact be one of their greatest strengths, and the Australian macadamia industry is urging brands to rethink how macadamias stack up when it comes to health.

Research carried out by Australian Macadamias with more than 6,000 consumers globally has revealed that consumers expect a wide range of benefits from food and ingredients, spanning both emotional and functional needs. Key findings revealed that more than 70% of consumers are seeking food and ingredients that deliver healthy fats to support heart health and 60% are seeking healthy fats for satiety.

Australian Macadamias Market Development Manager Jacqui Price says these insights show how far the consumer mindset has evolved when it comes to the role of good fats in their diets. 

“There was a time when consumers were advised to avoid fat at all costs, and of course we now know that healthy fats offer up some very compelling health benefits. This research revealed how clearly consumers understand this and it’s become something they actively seek out when making food purchase decisions,” she said.

According to Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Nuts for Life Program Manager Belinda Neville, macadamias contain a unique blend of healthy fats, fiber, plant sterols, antioxidants and a range of micro-nutrients that promote gut, heart, and brain health. This complex variety of nutrients and bioactive components work together to protect our bodies against disease. 

“Macadamias have the highest ‘good’ monounsaturated fat content of all tree nuts. These fats are beneficial for heart health and reducing the risk of heart disease. In fact, more than 80% of the total fat in macadamia nuts is the heart-healthy monounsaturated type,” she says. 

According to Neville, the benefits extend beyond heart health. “Their fat, protein, and fiber content makes macadamias highly satiating, while the fat helps the body to absorb fat-soluble nutrients like Vitamin E. It’s also what gives them their unique mouthfeel and flavor, and makes them a good carrier of other flavors, both savory and sweet.”

Price said many consumers already recognize the link between macadamias and their healthy fat benefits. 

“Our research showed 62% of consumers globally associate macadamias with feeling fuller for longer and 59% see macadamias as helping to promote heart health and reduce heart disease risk thanks to their high healthy fat content. These benefits are important to consumers, so we’re keen to challenge food brands to leverage this by being even more innovative with macadamias.”

Price says uptake of macadamias as an ingredient has been strong across several categories including ice cream, chocolate confectionery, bakery, and non-dairy milks. But with consumers embracing their health and wellbeing more than ever, and many recognizing the health benefits of macadamias, she says there’s still plenty of untapped potential.

“We’d love to see more brands pushing the envelope in terms of what’s possible with macadamias to meet rising consumer demand for health-enhancing, satisfying, and great-tasting products. Research tells us every time a consumer enjoys a macadamia, they’re doing their body, mind, and mood a whole lot of good. It’s time for brands to take another look at the essential daily nutrients delivered by Australian grown macadamias and be inspired to leverage that in their product development.”