The tropical, evergreen cashew tree produces the cashew fruit and the cashew nut. We have covered the cashew fruit here. The cashew tree is native to Brazil and was exported by the Europeans to Southeast Asia, where it is widely cultivated today. The cashew nuts are incredibly nutritious nuts that are also a great source of protein and carbohydrates. The delicious nuts are edible raw, can be roasted, powdered and added to smoothies and shakes and are used to make curries in Southeast Asian food.
The kidney-shaped cashew nut has a sweet taste and creamy texture. Cashew nuts are sold salted, unsalted, raw and roasted. The nuts yield cashew oil in the manufacturing process and are also used to produce cashew milk, a great vegan alternative to traditional sources of milk.
- Most nuts grow inside the fruit, but cashew nut grows outside of its fruit.
- The cashew nut is enclosed in a shell which is used to make lubricants, paints etc.
- The cashew nut is surrounded by a toxic resin that is removed while processing them and making them available for consumers.
- Cashew nuts may not be stored at room temperature or left in the kitchen. They need to be placed in an airtight jar and refrigerated. This way, they are usable for months on end.
1 oz of cashews (about 18 cashews) contains:
- Calories: 157
- Sugar: 1.68 grams (g)
- Carbohydrates: 8.56 g
- Fat: 12.43 g
- Protein: 5.17 g
- Fiber: 0.9 g
- Calcium: 10 milligrams (mg)
- Potassium: 187 mg
- Magnesium: 83 mg
- Iron: 1.89 mg
- Zinc: 1.64 mg
- Phosphorus: 168 mg
- Sodium: 3 mg
Benefits of Cashew Nuts
1. Cardiovascular Health
Significant research has shown that incorporating nuts into diet leads to better heart health and reduces risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular problems. This is because nut consumption lowers cholesterol levels in the body. FDA recommends a 1.5 oz serving of nuts a day and establishes its link with lowered risk of heart disease. The high amounts of magnesium present in the cashew nuts also contribute towards heart health. Magnesium aids absorption of calcium in the bones and prevention of deposition of calcium in the arteries, which means it lowers the risk of high blood pressure and the resultant strain on the heart.
2. Weight Loss
People aiming to lose weight should include nuts in their diet, as nuts are nutritious and keep you full for a longer time. Also, studies show that nuts do not contribute to weight gain and people who eat nuts generally have a lower BMI than those who do not eat nuts. Omega 3 fatty acids in cashew nuts promote fat loss by accelerating the body’s fat burning mechanism. Thus, we can say with conviction that eating moderate amounts of nuts does not lead to weight gain and may even help in weight loss. Read here about other vegetables that help in weight loss.
3. Eye Health
Cashew nuts contain antioxidants such as zeaxanthin and lutein in high amounts. With age, people sometimes start losing their vision as their eyes become clouded. Regular consumption of cashews prevents cataracts from developing in your eyes. Apart from this, cashews contain Zeaxanthin which is an antioxidant that protects the eyes by forming a protective layer over the retina and not allowing harmful UV rays or harmful substances in the air to pass through, thus keeping our eyes healthy. For other natural fruits that promote eye health, look at this article.
4. Bone Health
Cashew nuts can play a role in maintaining bone health as they are rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. Cashews also contain vitamin K. Together these nutrients promote bone health by decreasing the probability of demineralization and protecting bones from osteoporosis. Cashews also contain high amounts of copper. Copper helps in repair of connective tissue around the bones and prevents joint problems. For more natural foods that help promote bone health, read this.
5. Protein Source
Proteins are one of the major macronutrients that our body needs daily. It helps in building and repairing muscles and it keeps you feeling full during the day, which is desirable for health weight loss. Cashews are a great source of protein and this is one of the major reasons behind their popularity in the West. As they are not just protein-rich but also packed with minerals, they make a great healthy snack.
6. Gallbladder Protection
Studies have showed that consumption of cashew nuts decreases your risk of developing gallstones, or of needing surgery to remove the gallbladder.
7. Skin & Hair Benefits
The fatty acids in cashew nuts give your hair a silky and smooth appearance and keep your skin hydrated and wrinkle-free. Copper aids the body in producing melanin, which is a skin and hair pigment. Thus, both cashew nuts and cashew nut oil make your skin and hair healthier than before.
8. Cashew Milk
Cashew milk is a vegan alternative to dairy milk and quite simple to make. You only need to soak the cashews overnight and then wash them the next day before blending them with water on high power in a blender. This milt does not even require any straining and that means that all the nutrients and fibers from cashew nuts are retained in the delicious cashew milk. You can store it up to 3 or 4 days in the fridge, but it tastes best on day 1 and 2. So make sure to make only as much milk as you need.
Some people have nut allergies and consuming cashews, or cashew products can be dangerous for them. Also, moderation is the key in consuming nuts. Otherwise their high caloric content can be dangerous.
To conclude, cashew nuts are a powerhouse containing proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates. They also contain high amounts of beneficial nutrients and mineral, making them an ideal snack. They promote heart health, bone health, eye health and help maintain weight.