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Stevia, a natural sweetener and sugar substitute derived from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana, native to Brazil is often touted as a safe and healthy sugar substitute that can sweeten up foods without the negative health effects linked to refined sugar. It is widely grown for its leaves, from which extracts can be manufactured as sweetener products known generically as stevia and sold under various trade names.

I am annoyed by the fact that the various brands out there are white in colour. Why should they be white when the sweeteners are made from leaves? Obviously, the chlorophyll has been bleached during processing.

The color is even the least of my worries, the major concern is that Stevia products found on grocery store shelves with different brand names (I cannot mention the trade names) do not contain whole stevia leaf. They are made from a highly refined stevia leaf extract called rebaudioside A (Reb-A).

Stevia leaves have two sweet compounds, stevioside and rebaudioside A. Of the two, stevioside is linked to health benefits like reduced blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Still, there is no stevioside in some of the brands. What I am driving at is that there is a big difference between the stevia you buy at the grocery store and the stevia you may grow at home. You can plant them in your house and then harvest, dry and grind into powder. Forget about the fact that it is native to Brazil, the plant is here in Nigeria.

I will discuss Macadamia nuts today but let us go down memory lane a bit. Botanist Walter Hill watched his young assistant in horror as the boy had just eaten nuts from a newly discovered species of tree growing in the subtropical rain forests of southeast Queensland, Australia. Hill had heard that the nuts were poisonous. But the lad neither became ill nor dropped dead, instead, he found the nuts to be delicious. So, Hill tried one himself. Thereafter, he (Hill) began distributing macadamia seedlings to friends and botanists around the world. In 1858, he gave the tree the name ‘Macadamia Intergrifolia’ after his scientist friend John MacAdam. Join me on this trip to Australia for Macadamia nut which is one of their most valuable crops.

There are four species of Macadamia namely Macadamia tetraphylla, Macadamia integrifoIia, Macadamia ternifolia and

Macadamia jansenii. If the shell is round-shaped and smooth, it is Macadamia integrifolia but if the shell is spindle-shaped and rough, it is Macadamia tetraphylla.

I will be discussing Macadamia integrifolia.

The journal Chronica Horticulturae explains that “The macadamia is considered one of the world’s finest gourmet nuts because of its unique, delicate flavour, its fine crunchy texture and rich creamy colour.”

A study from the University of Hawaii shows that a diet containing these high-fat nuts can actually improve cholesterol levels.

According to J. David Curb, a professor of geriatric medicine and clinical epidemiology at the University of Hawaii School of Medicine and chief of the Division of Clinical Epidemiology, “Macadamia nuts have a bad reputation for having a lot of fat but our research shows the fats they contain, especially monounsaturated fatty acids, do not adversely impact cholesterol.”

They contain the highest level of oil yet found in a nut. It has a subtle, nutty flavor and is added to salads and used in cooking. Apart from cooking with macadamia nut oil, you can also use it topically and give your skin and hair all the benefits it has to offer. The nut can be ground into flour and then added to cereals to enrich their protein value. Talking about plant-based alternatives to dairy milk, this nut’s milk is part of them.

Some of the health benefits of the nut

They may prevent weight gain: The nuts and their oil are some of the richest sources of palmitoleic acid, a monounsaturated fat also called omega-7. Researchers in one study gave some sheep palmitoleic acid for 28 days and the results showed a reduction in weight gain by 77 per cent. Another study showed that feeding mice macadamia nut oil as a supplement reduced the size of their fat cells after 12 weeks. In one 12-week study, obese mice fed high-fat diets with large amounts of macadamia oil had significantly smaller fat cells than those given none of this product. In one 3-week study, 71 young Japanese women ate bread daily with either 10 grams of macadamia nuts, coconut or butter. Those in the macadamia group lost 0.9 pounds (0.4 kg) by the end of the study, while those in the other groups remained at the same weight.

May boost heart health: Macadamia nuts may lower your risk of heart disease. Various studies show that eating 8–42 grams of these nuts daily can lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by up to 10 per cent. Interestingly, a small study in people with high cholesterol noted that a diet rich in macadamia nuts reduced levels of this blood marker as much as a heart-healthy, low-fat diet. This fat is consistently linked to better heart health and a lower risk of stroke and fatal heart attacks. The nuts can also contribute to a healthy blood pressure because they contain the amino acid arginine, which acts as a precursor to the chemical messenger nitric oxide that causes blood vessels to dilate and remain elastic.

  • Makes great cooking oil
  • Reduces your risk of metabolic syndrome
  • May Improve bone health
  • They may prevent cancer
  • Protects the brain
  • The oil could nourish your skin
  • May improve gut health
  • Loaded with antioxidants

scientific studies

In a study titled, “Macadamia Nut Consumption Modulates Favorably Risk Factors for Coronary Artery Disease in Hypercholesterolemic Subjects,” by Garg et al, this study demonstrates, for the first time that short-term macadamia nut consumption favorably modifies the biomarkers of oxidative stress , thrombosis and inflammation, the risk factors for coronary artery disease, despite an increase in dietary fat intake.

These data, combined with previous results on cholesterol-lowering effects of macadamia nuts, show that regular consumption of macadamia nuts may play a role in the prevention of coronary artery disease.

In a study titled, “Macadamia Nuts Oil in Nanocream and Conventional Cream as Skin Anti-Aging: A Comparative Study,” by Hanum et al, it is concluded that macadamia nuts oil in nanocream dosage form has better anti-aging activity on the skin compared to conventional cream.

In a study titled, “An examination of the anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-Giardial and anti-cancer properties of Macadamia nut,” by Cock et al, the results of this study demonstrate the potential of M. integrifolia to block bacterial food spoilage and microbial induced food poisoning. Furthermore, the broad spectrum antimicrobial activity and the low MICs (minimum inhibitory concentration) indicate the therapeutic potential of M. integrifolia against infective disease.

You can eat them raw. You can dry-roast them too. Try to stay away from oil-roasted versions which contain unnecessary added fats. The color of the nut alone is enough to make you salivate.

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