Cashews are a bean-like nut that comes from tropical trees, most commonly found in India and Brazil. Although cashews are nuts, botanically they are the seeds of the tree.
However, they are a particularly rich plant nutrient source of many important nutrients, and due to their specific taste (sweet and “full flavor” of healthy fat content) and consistency, cashews, except as healthy snacks, can be easily used in different ways, in a variety of recipes.
Their production is quite difficult, they come from really distant places, so they have a high cost. However, the fact is that food of this type should be consumed in really small quantities – daily, as many grains as it can fit in the palm of our hand.
Cashews, like other nuts, are a particularly rich source of energy (calories), mainly due to healthy fats, but they are also rich in a huge number of micronutrients, which makes them have several health benefits for our body.
Rich nutritional and antioxidant source
Only 30g of cashews contain:
- 9g carbohydrates of which 1.75g sugars and 1g fiber
- 5.5g protein
- 12.7g fat
- 10mg calcium
- 2mg iron
- 85mg magnesium
- 170mg phosphorus
- 190mg potassium
- 3mg sodium
- 6 30mcg copper
- 1.7mg zinc
- Vitamin B1: 10% of recommended daily allowance
- Vitamin K: 8% of DP
Additionally, it contains slightly smaller amounts of vitamin C, B6, B9, manganese, selenium, etc.
So, cashews are especially rich in healthy, ie unsaturated (mono and polyunsaturated) fats, have low sugar content, quite enough fiber, and contain almost the same amount of protein as cooked meat. For these reasons, cashews are also used to make delicious vegetable milk.
Their rich mineral content allows them to be a good choice for bone health, brain, immunity, skin, etc.
Also, cashews contain phytochemicals, including antioxidants – polyphenols and carotenoids.
Antioxidants are the body’s defense mechanism against free radicals – harmful components that are constantly produced as metabolic waste in the body and oxidatively damage its various cells and tissues. The body has mechanisms to produce a certain percentage of necessary antioxidants, but it still depends on the intake.
Permanent oxidative damage leads to processes of chronic inflammation or inflammation, which in the long run is one of the main reasons for the development of chronic diseases.
Good food for the heart
A nuts-rich diet, including Indian nuts in some research, consistently shows a reduced risk of diseases like heart disease and stroke.
Here are three studies that focused specifically on the impact of cashew nuts.
The first says that people with type 2 diabetes, who consumed 10% of the daily calories from these nuts, had a significantly better ratio of LDL: HDL or “good” vs “bad” cholesterol, compared to those who did not consume at all.
The ratio LDL: HDL cholesterol is usually considered a good marker (indicator) for heart health.
The other two studies say that eating cashews can increase the level of “good” HDL cholesterol, and lower LDL cholesterol, but also blood pressure.
In addition, the mineral composition (magnesium) also has positive implications for heart health. This mineral, along with sodium and potassium, participates in muscle contraction but also plays a role in neuromuscular transmission and activity.
Studies show that those who get enough magnesium from their diet have a 58% lower risk of coronary artery disease.
Magnesium participates in over 300 enzymatic, important reactions for the body, including the metabolism of food and the production of specific fatty acids and proteins.
Good bone health
Cashews are among the few products that are high in copper. For persons over 19 years, the recommended daily intake for copper is 900mcg, and 30 g cashew has over 600 mcg.
Copper deficiency is associated with decreased bone density and an increased risk of osteoporosis. However, as there is no evidence that milder copper deficiency has any implications for osteoporosis, copper supplementation is not recommended to prevent such conditions.
Copper also plays an important role in the metabolism of collagen and elastin, two major structural protein components of the body, especially important for bones and skin.
The solid concentration of magnesium and manganese in these nuts also has a positive effect on bone health. Magnesium plays an important role in the assimilation of calcium in the bones, manganese helps prevent osteoporosis, in combination with calcium and copper.
Reduced risk of gallstones
According to a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, regular consumption of nuts is associated with a reduced risk of gallbladder removal surgery.
Data on more than 1 million people over 20 years were followed and it was found that women who ate more than 140g of nuts a week had a significantly lower risk of gallstones (which would result in surgery) than women who ate less than 30g.
Great food for the weight loss process
Nuts are rich in healthy fats, as well as energy, ie caloric value. For these reasons, people who are in the process of losing weight know to avoid nuts.
However, the exact opposite should be applied. Research is increasingly linking nut-rich diets to more successful weight loss than those that do not. Why? Although cashews (and other nuts) will provide you with healthy fats, fiber, and protein – they will saturate you more easily and for a longer time – the body is not able to absorb all the fat (calories) from fresh nuts. According to some studies, only about 80% of calories can be used, but this would not apply to roasted nuts.
Good food for people with type 2 diabetes
Cashews are a good source of fiber, a nutrient that prevents sugar spikes, and several studies have linked it to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Fiber, in addition to binding water and promoting satiety, also reduces the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream (inhibiting the breakdown role of digestive enzymes), ie lowering the glycemic index of all foods in the stomach at a given time. Cashews have very low sugar content.