FDA Declares Macadamia Nuts Heart Healthy

The Food and Drug Administration has declared macadamia nuts heart healthy.

The FDA approved a petition submitted by Hawaiian Macadamia Nut, Inc. that sought to certify the heart healthy benefits of macadamia nuts. After nearly two years of FDA review, the decision marks a significant step in the recognition of macadamia nuts as a potentially healthful food, which will benefit the entire macadamia nut industry. he FDA had previously approved a qualified health claim for the consumption of other tree nuts, but this announcement is the first time the agency has extended a qualified health claim specifically to macadamia nuts.

The nuts can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease under certain circumstances, the FDA confirmed.

Macadamia nuts have no cholesterol and are high in monounsaturated fats—the same healthy fats found in olive oil and avocados, which are known to help reduce bad cholesterol levels and can lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Scientists first discovered that adding macadamia nuts to the diet appeared to lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood during the 1990s and 2000s. Since then, researchers have been exploring the connection, resulting in a growing body of scientific evidence supporting that a diet including macadamia nuts can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. One ounce of macadamia nuts (about 15 nuts) is also an excellent source of thiamin and manganese, a good source of dietary fiber and copper, and contains protein, magnesium, iron and phytosterols.

The petition’s approval will allow manufacturers to better market macadamia nuts with a heart healthy seal of approval.

“This is great news for Hawaii’s macadamia nut producers and our local economy,” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii. “This ruling lifts a cloud of uncertainty off the industry and helps cement the macadamia nut’s place as one of our state’s most valued exports.”

Companies can now say: “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces per day of macadamia nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and not resulting in increased intake of saturated fat or calories may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See nutrition information for fat [and calorie] content.”

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