You might have been eating cashew nuts for a long time without even realizing that the cashew nuts come attached with a fruit. The cashew tree bears the cashew fruit, at the end of which grows the cashew nut. The cashew tree is an evergreen that grows in temperate regions and can be any size in between 20 to 40 feet. Its scientific name is Anacardiumoccidentale.
The cashew tree is native to Brazil. The Portuguese traders introduced this plant to Africa and Asia in the sixteenth century where they cultivated it in the warm regions of Mozambique and India. Today cashew trees grow in the Caribbean, Central America and South America as well as in Southeast Asia and Western Africa.
The cashew apple is yellow or yellowish-red in color. It is sweet in taste yet has a slight astringent flavor. It is edible raw and may also be cooked before eating. The fruit can be made into jams, preserves, chutneys, beverages, candies or fermented into wine. It has many medicinal uses as well.
Here are some interesting facts about the cashew fruit:
- The cashew fruit cannot be stored at room temperature for more than a day. It spoils very quickly.
- It can be preserved at a temperature range of 32º to 35º F for more than a month.
- The cashew tree flowers during winter.
- It is interesting that while some countries focused on extracting juice and wine from the cashew fruit and neglected the cashew seed, others developed processing industries for handling the seeds and neglected the fruit.
Let us look at some health benefits of the cashew fruit.
- Natural Sugar Substitute
Cashew fruit contains high amounts of sugar. As such, it can be used as a natural substitute for sugar in juices.
- Rich in Vitamin C
Cashew fruit contains more vitamin C than an orange. Vitamin C helps protect the body by acting as an antioxidant and it is also an important constituent in making protein for skin, healing wounds and repairing teeth and bones.
- Immune System Booster
The high amounts of antioxidants in cashew fruit makes it ideal for combatting the pathogens that enter the body by making the immune system strong. It also contains zinc which aids in overcoming bacterial infections. So, a regular intake of cashew fruit or juice can help in fighting off diseases. If you are looking for natural products for boosting immunity, read this article.
- Maintains Bone Health
Cashew fruit contains significant amounts of potassium. Potassium is very important for our bodies because it retains calcium and so keeps our bones strong. When potassium levels run low, calcium is lost through urine which causes bone demineralization. Potassium can also be found in strawberries and acts in the same way to improve bone health.
- Stabilizes Blood Pressure
The magnesium in cashew fruit is important for stabilizing blood pressure, which further lowers the risk of heart problems and stroke.
- Source of Probiotics
The Cashew apple can be a source of probiotics when fermented and turned into a beverage. This is a relatively cheap source of probiotics. Probiotics are those microorganisms (bacteria and yeasts) that promote gut health and aid in digestion. These microorganism are necessary for the normal functioning of the digestive system and can be obtained from fermented cashew juice.
- High Levels of Iron
Cashew fruits contain iron which is the mineral that makes up hemoglobin. Iron is part many important enzymes and it also boosts the immune system. Iron deficiency results in low oxygen levels in blood and causes weakness and susceptibility to disease. These health problems can be avoided by including cashew fruit in your diet.
- Beneficial for Skin
Zinc, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, selenium and vitamin C present in the cashew fruit make it an ideal fruit for healthy skin. They promote the health of skin by aiding collagen synthesis and maintaining the collagen. Further skin benefits can be obtained from cranberries.
- Medicinal Uses
In Brazil and Cuba, cashew fruit juice is used to treat sore throat as well as dysentery. The tannin in the fruit is believed to have the ability to cure or provide relief to patients. Brandy made from cashew fruit is used to treat rheumatic and neuralgic patients, providing relief from pain. For more natural remedies, you can read this article.
- Nutritionally Rich
100 grams (1/2 cup) of the nutrition-packed cashew fruit contains the following:
- Fiber: 0.4-1.0 g
- Moisture: 84.4-88.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 9.08-9.75 g
- Fat: 0.05-0.50 g
- Protein: 0.101-0.162 g
- Ash: 0.19-0.34 g
- Iron: 0.19-0.71 mg
- Phosphorus: 6.1-21.4 mg
- Calcium: 0.9-5.4 mg
- Thiamine: 0.023-0.03 mg
- Ascorbic Acid: 146.6-372.0 mg
- Carotene: 0.03-0.742 mg
- Niacin: 0.13-0.539 mg
- Riboflavin: 0.13-0.4 mg
Buying Cashew Fruit
You can only buy fresh cashew fruits if you live in the are where they are cultivated. Ideally, cashew fruits should be yellow to red in color and soft to the touch. You are more likely to be able to but frozen fruit and then you should make sure that the delicate fruit has not been bruised in the transporting process. If you live in temperate climates, then you can only access cashew products, as they cannot be exported to faraway places.
Let us now look at some cashew fruit products.
This cashew fruit concentrate comes in a 500 ml bottle and you can add up to 7 bottles of water to it to make cashew juice. The great thing about this concentrate is that it is gluten-free. As getting fresh cashew fruit can be very difficult, this concentrate provides an easy alternative that is just as healthy and nutritious.
This is another great cashew fruit concentrate option. This pack of 2 bottles of 16.7 oz concentrate makes a gallon of cashew juice that is delicious and refreshing. This concentrated juice is gluten-free and sugar-free which makes it a healthy beverage.
If you live in a warm region and are looking to grow your own cashew plant, then you should get some cashew seeds. You will need to check the customs details of your state before ordering these seeds though, as some states do not allow import of seeds.
If you decide to get these seeds, then you should know how to plant them. You will need to plant the seeds in standard potting mix. Before that, you should soak the seeds in warm water for one day. The soil temperature should be between 66-75° F and the pot should be placed under direct sunlight. You can change the pots or transfer the plant outside of the pot when it starts to grow.
The cashew fruit is rich in minerals like magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. It also contains a great quantity of vitamin C. The nutritious elements of the cashew fruit make it a healthy fruit and an essential to meet your dietary requirements.