Cashews – Benefits, Nutritional Facts, and Drawbacks


Cashew is a significant member of the family of nuts. It is native to Brazil, South America and was brought to India by the Portuguese, who took it to Goa. The benefits of cashew nuts are effective from hair to toe. Ancient people considered it a high cholesterol food. However, some studies suggest that it contains only good cholesterol. Cashews grow on a tropical evergreen tree. These nuts are sweet and creamy.

You can eat cashews in raw, roasted, salted and unsalted forms. In addition, it also manages to find its way into a variety of dishes. Some, like curry, kheer, biryani, or even Kaju Katli, are an inseparable part of Indian traditions and festivals. In addition, people also use cashew nuts to prepare specific dairy alternatives like cashew milk, cashew butter, and cashew cheese.

Apart from various health benefits, like helping with stomach and abdominal illnesses, cashews also ensure that you get desirable hair and skin.

Furthermore, this article will explain the nutritional structure of cashew, its health benefits, and some of its possible drawbacks.

Like any nut, cashews are a storehouse of energy and essential nutrients. They help your body in significant ways and work towards making you a healthier individual.

One serving of cashews (28.35 grams/approx. 18 cashews) contain:

  • 157 calories 
  • 8.56 g of carbohydrate 
  • 0.9 g of fibre
  • 5.17 g of protein
  • 12.43 g of total fat
  • 1.68 g of sugar

Other Nutrients include: 

  • 10 mg of calcium 
  • 0.62 mg of copper
  • 1.89 mg of iron
  • 1.64 mg of zinc
  • 83 mg of magnesium 
  • 168 mg of phosphorus
  • 187 mg of potassium
  • 3 mg of sodium

Apart from these nutrients, it is rich in several minerals and healthy compounds.

  • Cashew is a rich source of vitamin B and C.
  • They are also a great source of proteins and contain ample amounts of unsaturated fats.  
  • Minerals like copper, magnesium, and manganese present in cashews are essential for energy production, brain health, and immunity.

The festival-favourite cashew nut is a rich source of nutrients. It can further mitigate many health conditions. Several studies prove the health benefits of cashew nuts. People who consume cashew nuts develop stronger muscles. It also keeps diabetes under control. Let us take a look at a few cashew health benefits in detail: 

Cashews Help Maintain Healthy Weight

The healthy fats, protein and fibre in cashews help satisfy your cravings and keep you full for a more extended period. As a result, the urge to binge eat stays afar. Thus, it is safe to say that consuming cashews in moderation can help you maintain a healthy weight. 

A study suggests that women who consume cashews regularly have healthier body weight than those who don’t.

Cashews Aid in Weight Loss

A study shows that regular intake of cashew nuts can regulate weight loss and even fasten it. It is because cashews contain Omega-3 fatty acids that help boost metabolism. As a result, it helps in getting rid of excess fat. In addition, cashew nuts provide rich fibre and protein content with lesser calories, helping you stay full for long.

Cashews Lower Cholesterol Levels

Cashews are abundant with monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These acids help reduce cardiovascular disease risk. In addition, cashews may help decrease total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. 

Results from a study suggest that the daily consumption of cashews may be a simple dietary strategy to help manage total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. In addition, as per the same study, eating cashews can help lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Cashews Improve Heart Health

Multiple studies prove that nuts like cashews are full of nutrients like protein, antioxidants, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and unsaturated fatty acids. These nutrients help in providing anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and heart-protective benefits. Also, these nuts can help keep inflammation and vascular reactions in check.

Cashews also contain unsaturated fatty acids, which help keep cholesterol levels in check. As a result, it further reduces hazards like stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and heart attacks.

In addition to being a good source of unsaturated fats and proteins, cashews also contain fibre. Fibre helps lower LDL cholesterol, which lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. As per research, cashews ensure a low LDL to HDL ratio. It is a marker of good heart health.

Cashews Help Manage and Prevent Diabetes

The consumption of cashews may help improve insulin levels. They can increase good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol. It can reduce the risk of heart diseases in people with diabetes.

Research suggests that people who eat a cashew-rich diet have lower blood pressure and higher HDL cholesterol. However, you may experience it within 12 weeks. In addition, the same research also shows that a cashew-rich diet does not increase blood glucose levels and weight.

Cashews Improve Natural Eye Protection

As we know, the strength of our eyes deteriorates with age. However, a regular intake of antioxidants can help slow that down. Cashews contain a rich antioxidant pigment. The retina directly absorbs it. The pigment forms a protective layer on our eyes, preventing damage from harmful UV rays. 

Cashews Improve Skin and Hair Health

Cashews are rich in selenium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium, excellent for your skin. It is also a source of proteins, antioxidants, and plant-based chemicals. As a result, they aid in keeping your skin healthy and avoiding wrinkles. In addition, since they are rich in antioxidants, cashews promote the growth of new cells to ensure that the skin elasticity remains intact.

As per research, eating cashews and applying cashew nut oil to the scalp may help produce melanin. It is due to the presence of copper in cashews. In addition, certain oleic and linoleic acids present in cashews lend a silky finish to the hair and improve hair colour.

Cashews Strengthen Your Bones and Improve Bone Health

With a high magnesium and manganese content, cashews help promote bone health. Like calcium, magnesium is also highly crucial for healthy bones. A balance between the two can help improve nerve regulation and muscle toning.

In addition, magnesium helps keep calcium in check. Cashews can act as an excellent magnesium source and thus helps improve bone health.

Cashews Improve Brain Health

Cashews contain a balanced amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Studies suggest that these fats assist brain health, enhance memory and reduce inflammation. Thus, cashews help improve brain health and better brain functioning.

Cashews Boost Your Gut

Cashews are rich in dietary fibre. It helps in the digestion process and also provides food for gut-friendly bacteria. As a result, it allows good gut health and prevents intestinal issues.

Cashews Help Prevent Blood Diseases

Cashews are rich in copper. It combats any infection and maintains your immune system. In addition, copper and iron help the body prepare red blood cells.

Proper Ways to Consume Cashews Nuts

By consuming cashews the right way, you can restore your body with large amounts of vitamins K, D, B6, phosphorus, zinc, and iron.

You should remember that the best time to eat cashews or any nut is morning. It is best to eat nuts with your breakfast. It can help you ward off fatigue and smoothly control your blood pressure.

You should soak cashews before eating them. Soaked cashews obtain a creamy texture, making it easy to use them for recipes. In addition, soaked cashews also serve better nutrition. Soaking removes phytic acid from the nuts and make them easier to digest.

Although raw nuts are very healthy, they may contain harmful bacteria. On the other hand, roasted nuts may have fewer antioxidants and vitamins and may eradicate some healthy fats.

Cashew Nut: Healthy Recipes

While it is easy to eat raw cashews, they can become monotonous soon. However, these recipes are healthy and have a fun twist to them. In this way, you can include cashews in different styles in your diet.

Cashew Nut Chikki

Ingredients:

  • Cashew nuts – 250 grams 
  • Sugar or jaggery – 250 grams
  • Ghee – 2 tsp

Method

  • Split the cashew nuts equally.
  • In a frying pan, heat one tablespoon of Ghee.
  • Add sugar, and stir; allow sugar to melt on a high/medium flame.
  • Stir continuously so that the syrup does not stick at the bottom.
  • When the sugar dissolves completely, turn off the heat. 
  • Add the cashew nuts and mix well. Grease a plate or flat surface, pour the cashew nut mixture on it,
  • Grease a rolling pin with Ghee, and flatten the mixture to your preference.
  • You can cut the Chikki into any shape you desire while it’s still hot. 
  • Once it cools, you can break it with your hands into desired shapes.
  • Cashew nut Chikki is ready to satisfy your sugar tooth and snack craving. 
  • For longer shelf life, store it in an airtight container.

Cashew Butter

Ingredients

  • Cashew nut
  • Oil (coconut or avocado oil)

Method

  • Roast the cashews at 350 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes. 
  • Shake the pan while roasting so that they brown evenly.
  • After you roast the cashews, keep them for cooling.
  • Take a food processor, add the roasted cashews and give it a pulse.
  • Remember, you should powder the chunky nuts completely.
  • After a couple of minutes, the nuts release the oil, making the mixture clump together.

Homemade healthy cashew butter is ready to be added to your healthy snack list.

Potential Downsides of Cashews

We know that cashews are a storehouse of great nutrients and have immense health benefits. But, there are some possible downsides to their consumption.

  • Unprocessed raw cashews can be risky to consume as they can be toxic. Furthermore, their consumption may lead to skin reactions. Thus, it is best to choose dry roasted or raw cashew varieties.
  • Cashew nuts also contain phytates. Therefore, it can be troublesome for your body to absorb the minerals and vitamins. However, Soaking nuts can reduce the phytate content.
  • People allergic to tree nuts can be allergic to cashews too.
  • Cashews have a noticeable amount of oxalic acid. If not consumed in moderate amounts, they can pose an issue for kidney ailments.

Harmful effects of cashew nuts include: 

  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Joint swelling  

But these side effects occur rarely.

Applying unroasted cashews to the skin may lead to:

  • Skin irritation
  • Redness 
  • Blisters

Summary

Indeed, cashew nuts are a super nutritious food that provides you with fantastic health benefits. These kidney-shaped nuts may take care of various ailments from your heart to your gut. Moreover, you can get the required nutrients with a regular intake of cashews.

If you store cashews properly in an air-tight container, you can enjoy these tasty snacks throughout the year. Just remember that too much of everything is harmful. So, you should keep a watch on their consumption. Otherwise, these deliciously creamy nuts are the way to go!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Are roasted cashews better for one’s health than raw cashews?

A. Raw cashews are better than roasted because roasting can destroy the good omega3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol.

Q. Can vegans consume cashews in their diet?

A. Cashews are a plant food source and can fit into a vegan diet.

Q. How many cashews should one eat in a day?

A. A safe serving of cashews per day should approximately be 30 grams.

Q. Can cashews be bad for your health?

A. Since cashews are high in calories and fat, portion control is essential. Also, the anti-nutrient compounds in cashews may not be suitable for kidney patients and patients with nut allergies.

Q. Is it okay to eat a cashew apple?

A. Yes, you can eat cashew apples, raw or cooked. But do not eat the attached nut as it contains toxins. Also, ensure you eat dry nuts.

Q.What happens if you eat cashews every day?

A. In addition to weight loss, cashews can improve blood sugar, a healthier heart promote overall health.

Q. What are the disadvantages of cashew nuts?

A. Cashews have many benefits. However, an excess can cause bloating, constipation, weight gain, and joint swelling in some people. In addition, if you apply raw cashew paste to the skin, it might cause redness, irritation, and blisters.

Q. What happens when you eat too many cashews?

A. Compared to other nuts, cashews have a relatively high oxalate content. Eating too many can result in kidney damage and other chronic illnesses.

Q. Can I eat cashews at night?

A. Yes, the cashew nut contains melatonin. Therefore, it is good food for better sleep.

Q. Are cashews good for skin?

A. Cashews have antioxidative properties, contain zinc, magnesium, iron, selenium, and phosphorus, which help keep the skin healthy and wrinkle-free.

Q. Which time is best to eat cashew nuts?

A. It is better to consume them in the morning with your breakfast.

Q. Who should not eat cashew nuts?

A. People suffering from joint pain, kidney issues and allergic to tree nuts should avoid eating cashews.

Q. Do cashews raise your blood sugar?

A. No. Cashews have less or no impact on blood glucose levels.

Q. Do cashews cause cholesterol?

A. No, because they contain unsaturated fat. The fibre content in cashews also helps reduce LDL cholesterol.

Q. Are cashew nuts good for sperm count?

A. Yes. Cashews contain zinc, an essential mineral for fertility. It increases sperm count naturally.

Q. Are nuts good for erectile dysfunction?

A. Yes. Specifically, Walnuts. Because they have lots of arginines, an amino acid essential to cure dysfunction. 

Q. Do cashews make you gain weight?

A. Yes, consuming 3 to 4 cashews helps healthy weight gain.

Q. Are cashew nuts good for building muscle?

A. Yes, eating nuts can help you meet your protein needs, necessary for strengthening bones and building muscles.

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