Love cashews? Great! Here are seven health benefits of cashews that you probably don’t know.
Cashews are a treasure chest where Mather Nature put many valuable things: proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. The problem is that it’s very hard to stop at just one serving.
Cashews are the lowest-calorie nuts at 160 per ounce are cashews (16 to 18 nuts; 5 grams protein, 13 grams fat) and the richest plant source of copper.
Nutrients in cashews
Native to north-eastern Brazil, the cashew tree is a tropical evergreen tree that produces the cashew seed and the cashew apple. Today, major production of cashews occurs in Vietnam, Nigeria, India, and Ivory Coast.
Cashews are a treasure chest where Mather Nature put many valuable things: proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals.
In a 100-gram serving, raw cashews provide 553 Calories, 67% of the Daily Value (DV) in total fats, 36% DV of protein, 13% DV of dietary fiber, 11% DV of carbohydrates, and vitamins B1, B5, B6 and K. Cashews are rich sources of dietary minerals, including particularly copper, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and selenium.
Cashews contain a fair amount of beta-sitosterol (one of several plant sterols with chemical structures similar to that of cholesterol). It is being studied for its potential to reduce benign prostatic hyperplasia and blood cholesterol levels.
Cashews are naturally cholesterol-free and gluten-free.
NOTE: Percent Daily Value (%DV) is a guide to the nutrients in one serving of food. For example, 40% for protein means that one serving provides 40% of the protein you need each day. It helps you make informed food choices. DVs are based on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults.
What makes cashews different?
- Cashews are the lowest-calorie nuts at 160 per ounce (16 to 18 nuts have 5 grams protein and 13 grams of fat).
- Cashews are one of the best plant sources of copper.
7 Science-based health benefits of cashews
For many of us, the delicately flavoured cashews are a favourite snack that can be readily found in any mini or supermarket year round. It also makes wonderful nut butter and a special addition to salads and stir-fry dishes.
There are many reasons why people who care about their health prefer cashews to potato chips. Cashews really are the super snack. The problem is that it’s very hard to stop at just one serving.
Cashews are a great source of copper for your overall health
Cashews are especially rich in copper. They are one of the best plant sources of copper.
Copper is an essential trace mineral that cannot be formed by the human body. It must be ingested from dietary sources. Copper is of vital importance for us because it is incorporated into a variety of proteins and metalloenzymes which perform essential metabolic functions. We cannot exist without copper.
Copper is necessary for the proper growth, development, and maintenance of bone, connective tissue, brain, heart, and many other body organs. An essential component of many enzymes, copper plays a role in a wide range of physiological processes including iron utilization, elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment called melanin.
Copper takes active part in the metabolism of cholesterol and glucose, and the synthesis and release of life-sustaining proteins and enzymes. These enzymes in turn produce cellular energy and regulate nerve transmission, blood clotting, and oxygen transport.
Like all essential elements and nutrients, too much or too little ingestion of copper can result in a corresponding condition of copper excess or deficiency in the body, each of which has its own unique set of adverse health effects.
Numerous health problems can develop when copper intake is inadequate, including iron deficiency anemia, ruptured blood vessels, osteoporosis, joint problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, brain disturbances, elevated bad cholesterol and reduced good cholesterol levels, irregular heartbeat, and increased susceptibility to infections.
The World Health Organization recommends a minimal acceptable intake of approximately 1.3mg/day.
Cashews stimulates your immune system
Copper stimulates the immune system to fight infections, to repair injured tissues, and to promote healing. Copper also helps to neutralize “free-radicals”, which can cause severe damage to cells.
Cashews increase your red blood cells production
Cashews are an excellent source of dietary copper (110% DV) and iron (51% DV). These two essential elements play a crucial role in the processes of red blood cells production.
Copper is responsible for the absorption and utilization of iron. It is involved in the formation of red blood cells. Copper’s essentiality was first discovered in 1928, when it was demonstrated that rats fed a copper-deficient milk diet were unable to produce sufficient red blood cells. The anemia was corrected by the addition of copper-containing ash from vegetable or animal sources.
Iron is involved in numerous biological processes. In our body, it is the most important transition metal. The color of blood is due to hemoglobin, an iron-containing protein. Haemoglobin is responsible for the transport and storage of oxygen, as well as the transfer of electrons. It is also the metal at the active site of many important redox enzymes dealing with cellular respiration. A human male of average height has about 4 grams of iron in his body (of which three quarters is in hemoglobin), a female about 3.5 grams. This iron is distributed throughout the body in hemoglobin, tissues, muscles, bone marrow, blood proteins, and enzymes.
Cashews strengthen your bones and teeth
One serving of cashews provides with 85% of phosphorus Daily Value and 82% of magnesium.
An average adult human contains about 0.7 kg of phosphorus, about 85–90% in bones and teeth. An adult with healthy diet consumes and excretes about 1–3 grams of phosphorus per day.
The main component of bone is hydroxyapatite as well as amorphous forms of calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate salts assist in stiffening bones. Hydroxyapatite is the main component of tooth enamel.
Everyone knows that calcium is necessary for strong bones, but magnesium is also vital for healthy bones. About two-thirds of the magnesium in the human body is found in our bones.
Cashews help provide your every cell with ATP
Thanks to a high content of phosphorus in cashews, this delicious nut helps provide your every cell with energy as ATP.
Phosphorus plays a major role in the structural framework of DNA and RNA. Living cells use phosphate to transport cellular energy with adenosine triphosphate (ATP), necessary for every cellular process that uses energy. ATP is also important for phosphorylation, a key regulatory event in cells.
Cashews help improve phospholipids synthesis
Every living cell is encased in a membrane that separates it from its surroundings. Phospholipids are the main structural components of all cellular membranes.
Cashews help prevent gallstones
Twenty years of dietary data collected on 80,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study shows that women who eat at least 1 ounce of nuts every week have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones. Preventing gallbladder disease may be as easy as making one cashew butter sandwich for lunch each week, having a handful of cashews as an afternoon pick me up, or tossing some cashews on your oatmeal or salad.
How many cashews can you eat per day?
One serving of cashews has 163 calories and consists of 16 to 18 nuts. If you aren’t careful it’s easy to eat multiple servings in one sitting.
How to eat cashews?
Cashews are widely consumed.
- They are ready to be eaten straight out of the pack!
- You can mix cashews with yogurt for a tasty and easy snack, or put atop salads and soups.
- Cashews with a little bit of maple syrup make a great topping for hot cereals.
- In Indian cuisine, whole cashews are commonly used for garnishing sweets or curries, or ground into a paste that forms a base of sauces for curries or some sweets.
- Right before taking off the heat, you can add cashews to healthy sautéed vegetables with shrimps for a delightful Thai inspired dish.
- In a saucepan over low-medium heat, mix ground cashews with some soy sauce, cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger and water to make a wonderful sauce for fish, vegetables, tofu or rice.
You can experiment with cashews. Make “bolo polana” like people in Mozambique do: it is a cake prepared using powdered cashews and mashed potatoes as the main ingredients. Or you can make a cashew pie with a sweet filling base prepared with maple syrup, sugar and eggs, similar to how pecan pie filling is prepared. You can also use chocolate and fruits such as raspberry, and may serve the pie topped with whipped cream. Your guests will be surprised.
Health risks of cashews
You have to eat cashews with moderation, like any other nuts. There are some potential health risks associated with overeating cashews. A few recent studies suggest that for some 5% of people, cashews can lead to complications or allergic reactions.
Some people are allergic to cashews, but cashews are a less frequent allergen than peanuts. People who are allergic to cashew (or poison ivy) urushiols may cross-react to mango or pistachio which are also in the Anacardiaceae family. (Urushiol is an oily organic compound with allergic properties found in plants of the family Anacardiaceae.)
Surprising facts about cashews
- The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe with a single seed (the cashew nut) that grows at the end of the cashew apple. So, cashew nuts are actually seeds.
- While the cashew plant is native to northeast Brazil, the Portuguese took it to Goa, India, between 1560 and 1565. From there it spread throughout Southeast Asia and eventually Africa.
There are many reasons why people who care about their health prefer cashews to potato chips.
- Cashews are a great source of copper for your overall health
- Cashews stimulates your immune system
- Cashews increase your red blood cells production
- Cashews strengthen your bones and teeth
- Cashews help provide your cells with ATP
- Cashews help improve phospholipids synthesis
- Cashews help prevent gallstones
- Cashews improve men’s health
Don’t let concerns about gaining weight prevent you from enjoying the delicious taste and many health benefits of cashews! But eat with measure.