Posted by: Chris Maloney | September 7, 2012

Will Eating Macadamia Nuts Help You Lose Weight?

Chocolate-covered macadamia nuts

Chocolate-covered macadamia nuts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is rare that a dietary announcement gets me to clap my hands, squeeze my eyes tight and say:  “I want to believe!  I want to believe!”

But the checkout line magazines just announced I could burn more calories and lose weight by eating macadamia nuts.

Macadamia nuts are nature’s butterballs.  They contain the highest fat of any of the nuts, and are sort of the dietary equivalent of Twinkies in the nut world.

So hearing that they could help people lose weight is about like hearing about the new “Twinkie” diet.  It just doesn’t quite pan out.

And it doesn’t.  Following obese people randomized to either macadamia nuts or control, the mac eaters didn’t lose any weight.  The control group just gained some.  The only thing the study concluded was that depression makes it harder to lose weight.  Really?

There is a study out there showing the beneficial effects of macadamia nuts compared to eating coconut oil or butter in young, healthy Japanese women.  So I guess it depends on what you compare it to.

Clin Nutr. 2011 Oct;30(5):593-8. Epub  2011 May 14.

Depression scores predict adherence in a dietary weight loss intervention trial.


School of Public Health, and Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Meadowbrook 4131, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.



Depression has a complex association with cardiometabolic risk, both directly as an independent factor and indirectly through mediating effects on other risk factors such as BMI, diet, physical activity, and smoking. Since changes to many cardiometabolic risk factors involve behaviour change, the rise in depression prevalence as a major global health issue may present further challenges to long-term behaviour change to reduce such risk. This study investigated associations between depression scores and participation in a community-based weight management intervention trial.


A group of 64 overweight (BMI > 27), otherwise healthy adults, were recruited and randomised to follow either their usual diet, or an isocaloric diet in which saturated fat was replaced with monounsaturated fat (MUFA), to a target of 50% total fat, by adding macadamia nuts to the diet. Subjects were assessed for depressive symptoms at baseline and at ten weeks using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II). Both control and intervention groups received advice on National Guidelines for Physical Activity and adhered to the same protocol for food diary completion and trial consultations. Anthropometric and clinical measurements (cholesterol, inflammatory mediators) also were taken at baseline and 10 weeks.


During the recruitment phase, pre-existing diagnosed major depression was one of a range of reasons for initial exclusion of volunteers from the trial. Amongst enrolled participants, there was a significant correlation (R = -0.38, p < 0.05) between BDI-II scores at baseline and duration of participation in the trial. Subjects with a baseline BDI ≥10 (moderate to severe depression symptoms) were more likely to dropout of the trial before week 10 (p < 0.001). BDI-II scores in the intervention (MUFA) diet group decreased, but increased in the control group over the 10-week period. Univariate analysis of variance confirmed these observations (adjusted R(2) = 0.257, p = 0.01). Body weight remained static over the 10-week period in the intervention group, corresponding to a relative increase in the control group (adjusted R(2) = 0.097, p = 0.064).


Depression symptoms have the potential to affect enrolment in and adherence to dietbased risk reduction interventions, and may consequently influence the generalisability of such trials. Depression scores may therefore be useful for characterising, screening and allocating subjects to appropriate treatment pathways.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd and European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. All rights reserved.

PMID: 21575998

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2004 Dec;31 Suppl 2:S37-8.

Serum lipid effects of a monounsaturated (palmitoleic) fatty acid-rich diet based on macadamia nuts in healthy, young Japanese women.


Frontier Health Science, Mukogawa Women’s University, Nishinomiya, Japan.


1. Recent studies have identified potential beneficial effects of eating nuts, most of which have substantial amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Macadamia nuts consist of 75% fat by weight, 80% of which is MUFA (palmitoleic acid). 2. To examine variations in serum lipid levels in response to a high-MUFA diet based on macadamia nuts, 3 week interventions of macadamia nuts, coconuts and butter were determined in young, healthy Japanese female students. 3. After 3 weeks intervention, serum concentrations of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol were significantly decreased in the macadamia nut and coconut diets and bodyweight and body mass index were decreased in the group fed macadamia nuts, although there were no statistically significant changes in the group fed butter.




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