By: Nutrition Expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.
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Cashew was introduced in to Nigeria by the Portuguese traders around the 16th century (1). The evergreen cashew tree is economically grown for its apple, nut and wood. The nut is a c-shape hangs at the bottom of the cashew apple which is conically shaped. The kernel is the edible portion which is widely eaten as a snack-food, desert nut or as an ingredient for confectioneries and bakery products (2), (3).
Cashew nuts are considered to be one of the most nutritious foods in the world despite being rich in calories and low in fibre as they are packed with healthy fats, vitamins, and antioxidants. They contain many essential fatty acids that are beneficial for the body (4).
One ounce (28.3 g) of cashew nuts contains 157 calories, 8.5 g of carbohydrates, 5.1g of protein, 12.4 g of fat, 0.3 mg of vitamin E, 9.5 mcg of vitamin K, 0.1 mg of vitamin B6, 10.4 g of calcium, 3.4 mg of sodium, 187 mg of potassium, 83 mg of magnesium, and 7 µg of folate.
Potential Health Benefits:
- Improves Heart Health
Not all fats are bad for you, and some types of fat can actually help your heart health.
Cashews contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, including oleic and palmitoleic acids. These are essential fatty acids that have been associated with lower levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol and higher levels of healthy HDL cholesterol. As a result, consumption of the monounsaturated fats in cashews is associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (5).
- Good Source Of Versatile Copper
Cashews Provide Nearly 100 Percent of Your Recommended Daily Copper Intake Copper is a trace mineral that we get in very small amounts, mostly from animal sources such as crab, mussels, liver and oysters. The presence of copper is required for a variety of physiological reactions in the body, including reactions needed for energy production, the metabolism of iron, and neurotransmission. Failure to get enough copper has been associated with poor immune system functioning; higher risk of cardiovascular disease; increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s; and impaired bone health (6), (7).
- Improve Immune System
In addition to containing high amounts of copper, cashews are a great source of zinc. Failing to get enough zinc compromises your immune system functioning, since this mineral is important for the development of immune system cells, production of antioxidant enzymes and activity of immune system regulators. Each 1-ounce serving of cashews provides 1.6 mg of zinc, helping you advance toward your recommended daily target of 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women (6), (7).
- Antioxidant Properties
Cashew nuts also contain significant amounts of total antioxidants. Alkyl phenols are found in abundance in cashews. A study found that; Cashew nut fibre along with CNSL (Cashew Nut Shell Liquid), both of which contain high contents of anacardic acids, could be better utilized in functional food formulations and may represent a cheap source of cancer chemo preventive agents (8).
- Lowers The Risk Of Gallstones
Gallstones are made up of hardened cholesterol or a compound called bilirubin, and they can be extremely painful. In a study of more than 80,000 women, eating nuts such as cashews was associated with a 25 percent lower risk of developing gallstones. Thus, enjoying cashews every day could lower your risk of painful gallstones (9).
- Good For Skin And Hair
Cashew nuts are high in antioxidants, copper, magnesium, iron, and selenium. Antioxidants scavenge harmful chemicals and repair the tissues. Thus, they help improve the health and appearance of your skin (10).
Copper improves the production of elastin and collagen. Collagen is an integral structural protein that is responsible for the elasticity of your skin and hair. Including collagen-boosting foods such as cashews in your daily diet can help keep your skin glowing and hair healthy (11).
- May Help Strengthen Bones
Cashew nuts are rich in proteins and minerals such as magnesium and copper. Copper helps in keeping your joints flexible by synthesizing collagen. It also helps in the formation of bones along with magnesium. Therefore, eating a few cashew nuts every day may help strengthen your bones (12).
- May Help Prevent Diabetes
Cashew nuts are also rich in polyphenols that can help improve the gut micro biome and reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (13).
- Reduces The Risk Of Anaemia
Cashew nuts are rich in both iron and copper (4). These minerals are essential for the proper functioning of the circulatory system. Iron deficiency is a common cause for anaemia, and incorporating cashew nuts in your daily diet can help prevent it.
How To Include Cashews In Diet
Cashew products are dairy-free substitutes that can be used in smoothies and gravies to improve their texture.
Cashews can be eaten raw or roasted, but make sure to eat processed nuts as
they do not contain harmful toxins.
Cashew nuts are full of healthy fats and antioxidants and have no cholesterol. They promote heart health and regulate various functions of the body.
Cashew nuts do have a few side effects like; G.I. discomfort, skin allergy, breathing difficulty etc. when consumed in excess. If you experience any of the side effects, consult a doctor before changing your diet.
- Woodroof, J. G. (1967). Tree nuts: Production, Processing and Products. (1)AV. Publ. Co. Incorporation, U. K