Cashews 101: Nutritional Facts, Health Benefits, and Potential Drawbacks
Cashew, a significant member of the family of nuts, is native to Brazil, South America, and was brought to India by the Portuguese, who took it to Goa. Produced on a tropical evergreen tree, these nuts are sweet in taste and have a creamy consistency. Raw, roasted, salted, unsalted, you can find cashews in any of these forms. This nut also manages to find its way into a variety of dishes, some of which are an inseparable part of Indian traditions and festivals, be it curry, kheer, biryani, or even kaju katli! Aside from being an easy addition to a wide spectrum of dishes, these tree nuts have been used to make certain dairy alternatives like cashew milk, cashew butter, and cashew cheese too.
In addition to having a variety of health benefits, like helping with stomach and abdominal illnesses, Cashews, also ensure that you have hair and skin that is desirable. Furthermore, through this post, we will dive deep and have a better look at the nutritional structure of cashew, its health benefits, and some of its possible drawbacks.
Table of Contents
Just like any other important 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. To have the exact information about the nutritional contents of cashews, the measurements of 1 serving of cashews (28.35 grams/ approx 18 cashews) is given below:
- 157 calories
- 8.56 g of carbohydrate
- 0.9 g of fiber
- 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, one can also find Vitamin B and C in cashews. They are also a great source of proteins in one’s diet and contain good amounts of unsaturated fats.
7 Health Benefits of Cashews
This festival-favourite nut appears to be a source of nutrients that can mitigate many health conditions. We will take a look at a few top health benefits here:
1. Great for natural eye-protection
With Indian cities ranking amongst some of the most highly polluted cities across the world, we know how bad the environment has become for us. From the never-ending traffic jams to the harmful UV rays and our screen time increasing every day, the stress on our eyes is getting a lot. Cashews contain a strong antioxidant pigment that is directly absorbed by the retina. This helps in the formation of a layer on our eyes which protects us from harmful UV rays.
The strength of our eyes deteriorates with age (specifically macular degeneration), but certain studies have shown that a regular intake of the antioxidant provided by cashews can help slow that down too!
2. Helps prevent blood diseases
Cashews are a rich source of copper, which helps in combating any infection and maintaining your immune system. It is widely known that copper, along with iron, helps the body in preparing red blood cells.
3. Boosts and helps prepare a healthy heart
It has been proven by multiple studies that nuts, such as cashews, are full of nutrients like protein, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and unsaturated fatty acids. These help in providing anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and heart-protective characteristics. Adding to this, inflammation and vascular reactions are also kept in check with a regular intake of the nutrients provided by these nuts. Cashews also contain unsaturated fatty acids that help keep cholesterol levels in check, thereby, reducing any hazards like stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and heart attacks.
4. Aids in weight loss
Regular intake of cashew nuts can regulate weight loss and even make it faster. They contain Omega 3 fatty acids that can boost a person’s metabolism. This helps in getting rid of any excess fat. Cashew nuts provide rich fiber and protein content with lesser calories, helping you stay full for long.
5. Improves the health of skin and hair
Cashews are rich in selenium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium, which can be wonderful for your skin. It is also a source of proteins, antioxidants, and plant-based chemicals that aid in keeping your skin healthy and avoid any wrinkles. As it contains antioxidants, cashews promote new cells to grow to ensure that the skin’s elasticity remains intact.
According to various experts, eating cashews and applying cashew nut oil to one’s scalp can help in the production of a pigment known as melanin — the copper present in cashews aids with this. There are also certain oleic and linoleic acids present that lend a silky finish to the hair and improve hair colour.
6. Boosts your gut
Cashews are rich in dietary fiber which helps in the digestion process and also provides food for the gut-friendly bacteria. This helps in good gut health and prevents intestinal issues.
7. Strengthens your bones
In addition to calcium, magnesium is also extremely crucial for healthy bones. Both of them in balance can help in bettering nerve regulation and muscle toning. Magnesium keeps calcium in check, and cashews can act as a great source for it.
Potential Downsides of Cashews
While we have praised cashews immensely for being a storehouse of fantastic nutrients, there are some possible downsides to their consumption.
- Raw cashews that have not been processed at all can be risky to consume as they have a toxic substance (usually found in poison ivy). If contact is made with it, one can be at the receiving end of skin reactions. Thus, it is best to choose dry roasted or raw cashew varieties.
- Cashew nuts also contain phytates that can make it troublesome for your body to be able to absorb the minerals and vitamins that the nuts have. However, Soaking nuts can reduce the phytate content.
- People who are usually allergic to tree nuts can be allergic to cashews as well.
- Cashews have a noticeable amount of oxalic acid, and if not consumed in moderate amounts, they can be an issue for people who have kidney ailments, and those who are at risk of getting kidney stones.
All in all, cashew nuts are a super nutritious food that can provide you with amazing health benefits. Right from your heart to your gut, these kidney-shaped nuts seem to have taken care of a variety of ailments all by themselves. With just a regular intake of cashews, you can make sure that you receive many favorable nutrients. Stored properly in an air-tight container, you will be able to enjoy these tasty snacks throughout the year. Just remember that too much of everything is bad and one should keep a watch on their consumption. Other than that, these deliciously creamy nuts are the way to go!
Frequently Asked Questions
A. Raw cashews are better than roasted, as roasting can destroy the good omega3 fatty acids which can lower cholesterol.
A. Cashews are a plant food source and can safely be consumed by vegans.
A. 1 serving of cashews is approximately 30 grams or about 15-18 cashews.
A. Since cashews are high in calories and fat, portion control is important. Also, the anti nutrient compounds in cashews may not be suitable for kidney patients if eaten in large amounts. Cashews are also not suited for anyone with nut allergy.
A. Yes, cashew apples can be eaten raw or cooked but do not eat the nut attached to it as it contains a toxin. The nut needs to be dried before eating it.
- ^ immune system (www.healthifyme.com)
- ^ cholesterol levels in check (www.healthifyme.com)
- ^ weight loss (www.healthifyme.com)
- ^ gut health (www.healthifyme.com)