Macadamia nuts may cut heart disease risk, says FDA
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a claim that eating 1.5 ounces of macadamia nuts each day could help reduce the risk of heart disease, following a petition from Royal Hawaiian Orchards, according to Project Nosh.
The qualified health claim, following a two-year review by the FDA, specifies the nuts may be beneficial as long as they are part of diet that is not otherwise high in calories, saturated fat or cholesterol. The agency concluded the evidence was “supportive but not conclusive” of the link between macadamia nut consumption and reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
The claim applies to whole and chopped macadamia nuts, including raw, blanched, roasted, salted, unsalted, lightly coated or flavored varieties.
Three other tree nuts — walnuts, pistachios and almonds — are already allowed to carry similar claims relating to heart health, and nut consumption is recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the nation’s leading cause of death among both men and women.
The purported benefits of macadamias are linked to their high levels of monounsaturated fats, which are known to reduce bad cholesterol levels and cut the risk of heart disease and stroke. Researchers first examined macadamia nuts’ role in reducing LDL cholesterol in the 1990s, and the evidence of a positive link has been building ever since.
Although this latest label claim for macadamia nuts came about as a result of a petition from Royal Hawaiian Orchards, it can be used by all macadamia nut suppliers, meaning the company is not likely to gain a competitive advantage among its direct competitors in the industry. However, the claim does mean that macadamia nuts will be able to compete on a similar footing to other tree nuts.
A qualified health claim linking tree nut consumption with reduced heart disease risk was one of the first to be approved by the FDA back in 2003, but this is the first time manufacturers have been allowed to call out the heart health benefits of macadamia nuts specifically.