The Australian Macadamia industry has discovered that consumers are increasingly snacking as a way to manage their mood.
Participants in the research emphasised the importance of food manufacturers using clean and high quality ingredients in their snacks, which maximise nutritional benefits, and support improved moods and wellness.
Australian Macadamia Society market development manager Lynne Ziehlke said in recent years, the snacking category has been redefined with various trends that set the context for product innovation.
“One trend has remained consistent when it comes to snacking: most consumers want a snack that provides enough energy to sustain them and their frame of mind through their day,” said Ziehlke.
In August, the global macadamia industry launched a research project aimed at providing strong evidence to support the role of macadamias in a healthy diet.
Key macadamia-producing countries Australia, South Africa, Kenya, Brazil and Malawi have made a substantial financial investment into the research, and the project has been supported by the International Nut & Dried Fruit Council and INC World Forum.
The global macadamia health research project will be a large scale, long term randomised parallel intervention study delivered by researcher Professor Joan Sabate from Loma Linda University Medical Centre.
It is the first of its kind in the macadamia industry, and the first time that multiple origins have contributed to such a project.
It is considered critical to the industry’s ability to continue to market macadamias as a premium product.
Ziehlke said there is considerable research that shows eating tree nuts regularly can protect against coronary heart disease, decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes and help with weight management, as well as more than 200 research papers on the nutritional benefits of almonds and walnuts.
“Macadamias, like other tree nuts, have a potential cardio-protective role to play in a healthy, balanced diet and are a significant source of nutrients,” she said.
“To date, the macadamia industry has not undertaken any clinical research of this magnitude, so today’s announcement represents a significant milestone.
“As well as providing strong evidence to support the role of macadamias in a healthy diet, the research is expected to provide many new opportunities for the product and drive further new investment in research,” said Ziehlke.
The Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association’s Barry Christie said that consumers are increasingly aware of the healthiness of nuts, which has helped to drive tree nut consumption by more than 75 per cent over the last ten years.
“We anticipate the outcomes of this research will help the global macadamia industry to capitalise even further on this trend, by guiding the development of more powerful messaging about the health benefits of macadamias to consumers, health professionals and regulators,” said Christie.
“It’s a very exciting development for our global industry, and we are delighted to be working together on a project that will benefit all macadamia producing regions,” he said.
The study will compare the effect of a diet enriched in macadamias versus a control diet on insulin resistance and insulin secretion in individuals with insulin resistance.
It will assess the effect of macadamia nut consumption on lipid profile (total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDH cholesterol and triglycerides) and other emergent risk factors of cardiovascular disease as well as on central obesity and body composition.