Whenever anyone talks about nuts, the first nut to strike the mind is a cashew nut. With a great shelf-life, cashews can be eaten raw, salted, or roasted. Cashew nuts, also known as kaju, not only satisfy your taste buds with their creamy and nutty flavour but also offer a treasure trove of health benefits. Packed with essential nutrients, cashew nuts have gained recognition for their remarkable contribution to overall well-being. If eaten in a moderate amount, one can reap a plethora of cashew benefits.
In this article, we aim to explore the incredible benefits and diverse uses of eating cashew nuts, acquaint you with all about Cashew Nuts Nutrition, Cashew Nuts Calories, and how to eat this humble nut correctly.
Get ready to unlock the secrets behind the extraordinary benefits of cashew nuts!
Cashew Nuts: Some Basics
Cashews are kidney-shaped white nuts are not nuts but seeds of Anacardium Occidentale trees native to Brazil, but is now grown in a variety of warm climates around the world.
Although cashews are often sold as ‘raw’, truly raw cashews are not safe for consumption due to the presence of urushiol, a toxic substance which is also found in poison ivy. Contact with urushiol can cause skin reactions in certain individuals. To eliminate this toxic liquid, cashew kernels undergo a cooking process during processing, and the resulting product is marketed as ‘raw’.
Although cashews are often categorised as tree nuts, they are, in fact, seeds. They are packed with essential nutrients and advantageous plant compounds, making them a convenient addition to various dishes.
Cashews are a rich source of fibre, zinc, copper, antioxidants, and other hosts of nutrients and have been associated with several health benefits. These include aiding in weight loss, improving blood sugar control, and promoting heart health.
Nutrients in Cashew Nuts
Before we jump on to discuss the various health benefits of eating cashew nuts, we want you to have a look at the nutrients in cashew nuts. Cashew nuts are rich in the following nutrients:
- Vitamin E and K
Cashews are highly abundant in unsaturated fats, which are associated with a reduced risk of premature death and heart disease.
They have a low sugar content, provide dietary fibre, and offer a protein content comparable to cooked meat. Therefore, the Cashew protein found in this nut makes it apt for bodybuilders and athletes, who look for natural sources of protein in their diet.
Furthermore, cashews are rich in copper, a vital mineral for energy production, brain development, and immune system strength.
They are also excellent sources of magnesium and manganese, which play crucial roles in maintaining healthy bones.
10 Incredible Cashew Nuts Health Benefits
Let’s explore the ten remarkable health benefits that make cashew nuts an invaluable addition to your diet. Here is a list of 10 surprising benefits of cashews for you to know:
1. Keeps Diabetes Under Check
The prime benefit of eating cashews every day is that it helps to keep diabetes under check. Being a rich source of fibre, cashews help to regulate your blood sugar levels. However, since cashews are rich in calories, eat them in a moderate amount.
Although limited research has been done on how cashews affect blood sugar levels, one study showed that individuals with diabetes type 2 who ate 10% of the daily calories from cashew nuts had lower insulin levels, which is a good sign for controlling blood sugar.
Cashews have a low amount of carbohydrates, with only 8 grams of net carbs each serving and less than 2 grams of those from sugars. Net carbs are the carbs that the body can absorb after subtracting the fibre content. By replacing foods high in sugar and refined carbs with cashews, it may aid in reducing blood sugar levels. However, more studies are needed to fully understand the impact of cashew-rich diets on people with type 2 diabetes.
2. Good for Heart Health
You may know that antioxidants are good for your heart health. Cashews are rich in antioxidants, so they are good for your heart health. Moreover, there are phenolic compounds present in cashews that help to strengthen your blood vessels.
Quite a few studies have specifically investigated the heart-health benefits of cashew nuts.
One study observed that individuals with type 2 diabetes who consumed 10% of their daily calorie intake from cashews had lower ratios of LDL (bad) cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol than those who did not consume cashews.
A low LDL to HDL ratio is generally considered an indication of good heart health.
Additionally, two other studies found a connection between cashew consumption and higher levels of HDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, as well as reductions in total and LDL cholesterol levels.
These findings suggest that cashews may have positive effects on heart health.
3. Boosts Up Immunity
When talking about the benefits of cashew nut, we can’t ignore mentioning that it is an immunity booster. The rich content of zinc in this nut along with other vitamins helps to improve your overall immunity.
Cashews play a role in various immune processes, including the production of cytokines and phagocytosis (the engulfing of pathogens by immune cells). Consuming cashews regularly can contribute to meeting the recommended daily intake of zinc, which is important for immune function.
4. Eat Cashews Every Day to Get Shiny Hair
Rely on the hidden power of cashews to make your hair shiny and healthy. Yes, cashews are loaded with copper, which helps to enhance the pigment melanin in the hair and make them shine naturally.
Additionally, the copper content in cashews helps increase the hair elasticity and help keep hair healthy.
5. Superfood for Brain
Eating cashews is a wonderful thing for your brain. Full of fatty acids and other brain-boosting nutrients, cashews help to enhance the overall functioning of the brain. Try to eat overnight soaked cashews to boost your brainpower.
6. Get Healthy Bones by Eating Cashews
Cashews are like a superfood for your bones. They have all the minerals and nutrients that are required by our bones to stay strong.
Inadequate levels of copper in the body have been linked to reduced bone mineral density and an elevated risk of developing osteoporosis. Additionally, copper is vital for maintaining collagen and elastin, which are crucial structural components in our bodies. When copper levels are insufficient, the body struggles to repair damaged connective tissue and replace collagen, which serves as the framework for bones. As a result, various issues can arise, including joint dysfunction and the breakdown of bodily tissues.
But thanks to cashews, copper being an essential nutrient found in them help to increase the production of collagen in the body, which makes the bones flexible.
7. Reduces Blood Pressure
Cashews are also found to be effective in reducing high blood pressure. This happens due to the presence of minerals like potassium, magnesium, and unsaturated fats. All these together work to reduce the blood pressure in the body.
A 12-week study involving Asian Indians with type 2 diabetes found that including cashew nuts in their diet led to positive effects on their health. The consumption of cashew nuts resulted in a reduction in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) and an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol. Importantly, these improvements were observed without any negative impact on body weight, blood sugar levels (glycemia), or other lipid variables (such as cholesterol levels).
8. Prevents Blood-Related Disorders
Haemoglobin is a crucial protein responsible for facilitating the transport of oxygen by red blood cells. The formation of haemoglobin relies on essential micronutrients like iron and copper. Cashew nuts, being abundant in both iron and copper, have the potential to support the production of haemoglobin.
Additionally, eating cashew nuts every day also helps prevent the risk of blood-related disorders. Iron and copper, both these nutrients help to fight against free radicals in the body and keep iron deficiency at bay.
9. Benefits of Eating Cashews for Males
Cashews are beneficial for men, as they are loaded with zinc. Zinc is responsible for increasing the sperm count in men and helps to enhance their fertility rate.
10. Good for Eye Vision
The list of Cashew benefits is not over yet. Consuming this exotic nut helps to improve vision. They are rich in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which help to protect the eyes and skin against harmful UV rays. When you eat cashews regularly, there are also lesser chances of macular degeneration and cataracts in the eyes.
Other Benefits of Cashew Nuts
- May help in losing weight
Previously, nuts were thought to be all about calories and fats. Therefore, most of the people believe that eating nuts will make you fat.
However, research has found that nuts can be actually helpful in maintaining healthy weight.
There is limited evidence indicating that the regular consumption of nuts is associated with increased energy expenditure during rest, which could potentially aid in weight management.
Moreover, studies comparing weight loss between diet plans that include or exclude nuts have shown that incorporating nuts in moderation leads to effective weight loss.
- May help in preventing Cancer
Multiple studies have indicated that incorporating nuts into one’s diet can lower the risk of developing cancer. Cashew nuts, specifically, contain high levels of antioxidant compounds such as cardanols, anacardic acid, and cardols, which have the potential to reduce the risk of cancer.
- May Benefit Nerve Health
The fatty acids found in cashews can contribute to the formation and functioning of myelin sheaths, which are protective coverings around neurons. This can support nerve health.
Cashews are also abundant in magnesium, which plays a role in maintaining proper nerve function.
- Cashews Help with Gut Health
Cashews have a lot of fibre. It aids digestion and provides food to the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Thereby, promoting gut health and helping prevent digestive problems.(28)
Gallstones, which are solid formations of cholesterol or bilirubin, can cause severe pain. A study involving over 80,000 women found that regular nut consumption, including cashews, was associated with a 25% reduced risk of developing gallstones. Therefore, incorporating cashews into your daily diet could potentially lower the risk of experiencing painful gallstones.
- May help prevent stroke
Cashews contain magnesium, which may help lessen the chance of stroke. This is particularly the case with haemorrhagic strokes, which are caused by a weakened vessel that ruptures and pours blood into brain tissue.
- May help in reducing inflammation and pain
Inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-6 and TNF-alpha, play a role in the development of pathological pain. Cashew nuts have been found to possess anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and provide these effects by inhibiting the production of inflammatory cytokines and blocking proinflammatory cytokines.
Moreover, cashew nuts exhibit radical scavenging abilities, which can protect cells from damage. These findings suggest that incorporating cashew nuts into one’s diet may aid in reducing inflammation and alleviating pain.
However, further research involving human studies is necessary to substantiate these claims.
Cashew Side Effects
Despite the fact that cashew nut has a bundle of health benefits, consuming it in excess may lead to some side effects. Have a look at some health issues that may crop up by consuming cashews in excess:
- Cashew Allergy: Nut allergies, including cashew allergies, can lead to various symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, mouth swelling, and difficulty swallowing.
- Contact Dermatitis: Some individuals may experience an allergic skin reaction, known as contact dermatitis, when exposed to cashew nut shell oil. This can manifest as itching, skin swelling, and hives.
- Anaphylaxis: In severe cases, an allergic reaction to cashews can result in a life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis. Symptoms include tongue swelling, breathing difficulties, swallowing difficulties, and loss of consciousness. Immediate medical attention is necessary in such cases.
- Gastrointestinal Discomfort: Allergic individuals may exhibit symptoms such as bloating, vomiting, and diarrhoea upon consuming cashews.
- Breathing Difficulties: If cashew consumption triggers symptoms like a runny nose or breathing difficulties, it is crucial to seek immediate medical assistance.
- Kidney Stones: Individuals with a history of kidney stones should be cautious when consuming cashews due to their oxalate content. Excessive oxalate consumption may hinder calcium absorption and potentially contribute to the formation of kidney stones.
How to Eat Cashew Nuts Correctly
To fully reap the nutritional benefits of cashew nuts, it is important to consume them in the right way. These nutrient powerhouses can provide your body with a rich supply of vitamins K, D, B6, phosphorus, zinc, and iron.
For optimal results, it is recommended to consume cashews in the morning, preferably with your breakfast. This timing can help combat fatigue and aid in maintaining stable blood pressure throughout the day.
Before indulging in cashews, it is beneficial to soak them. Soaking cashews not only gives them a creamy texture that enhances their versatility in recipes but also improves their nutritional value. Through soaking, phytic acid, which can hinder nutrient absorption, is removed, making cashews easier to digest and maximising their nutritional benefits.
While raw nuts are generally regarded as healthy, they may carry harmful bacteria. On the other hand, roasted nuts may have lower levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and healthy fats. Finding a balance between raw and roasted cashews can ensure that you receive both nutritional advantages and safety considerations.
What is the Recommended Daily Intake of Cashew Nuts?
It can be tempting to overindulge in the delicious and creamy flavour of cashew nuts. However, it is advisable to exercise moderation and avoid consuming excessive amounts in one sitting to prevent potential weight gain.
The recommended serving size for cashew nuts is approximately one ounce, which translates to about 15–18 cashews. By incorporating an appropriate portion of cashew nuts into your daily diet, you can enjoy their numerous nutritional benefits.
The Bottom Line
Cashew nuts, or kaju, offer a wide range of benefits and are packed with essential nutrients. The nutrient profile of cashews, including copper, magnesium, and zinc, contributes to their positive impact on bone health, immune function, and nerve function.
Regular consumption of cashews has been associated with improved blood sugar control, reduced LDL cholesterol levels, increased HDL cholesterol levels, and lower blood pressure, emphasising their role in promoting cardiovascular health. Moreover, cashews have been linked to a decreased risk of gallstones, providing an additional advantage.
Cashews can be utilized in various ways, adding flavour and texture to dishes such as curries and other culinary creations. As a snack, they are a convenient and enjoyable option. However, it is crucial to be mindful of portion sizes due to the higher calorie content of cashews, which can contribute to weight gain if consumed excessively.
In a nutshell, cashew nuts provide a wide array of nutrients, offer versatile usage in different recipes, and deliver several health benefits. By incorporating moderate amounts of cashews into a balanced diet, individuals can savour their taste while reaping the advantages of their nutritional composition.
Health Benefits of Cashew FAQs
What are the health benefits of cashew nuts?
Cashew nuts offer several health benefits, including aiding in weight loss, improving blood sugar control, and promoting heart health. They are also a rich source of fibre, zinc, copper, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients.
Are cashew nuts suitable for athletes and bodybuilders?
Yes, cashew nuts are a good source of protein and can be a natural source of protein for athletes and bodybuilders, providing muscle-repairing nutrients.
How do cashews benefit heart health?
Cashew nuts contain unsaturated fats that are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and premature death. They also have a low sugar content, making them a heart-healthy choice.
Can cashews be enjoyed by people with nut allergies?
Cashews are tree nuts, and individuals with nut allergies should exercise caution and consult a healthcare professional before consuming cashew nuts to avoid any allergic reactions.