Cashew or Kaju is a popular ingredient present in various Indian dishes, specifically used as a base for dishes. Recently, it used to make dairy alternatives such as cashew milk and cream.
Cashews are a kidney-shaped seed sourced from the cashew tree- Anacardium occidentale. This evergreen tree produces both, an apple-like tree and a nut that hangs beneath the fruit. These cashews are native to Brazil and introduced by colonists to Africa and India. It is available around the year, and these nuts have a great shelf life if stored properly.
Cashew nuts are not technically nuts but they are seeds. Cashews have a rich nutty flavour, similar to almonds or peanuts. When pureed, it may be hard to distinguish cashew butter from other nut butter like a peanut. Cashew nuts can be consumed raw, roasted, or salted.
The Nutritional Profile of Cashew Nuts
Cashew nut is one of the nutritious nuts out of other nuts. However, you cannot consume it daily due to the presence of high-calorie content. That is the reason why there is a big NO for cashew nuts in diet-conscious people. Apart from calories, cashews are rich in –
- Essential fatty acids
- Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and Vitamin K
- Minerals – calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and folate
- Proteins and carbs
Benefits of Cashew Nuts
Cashew nuts are nutrient-dense and rich in healthy fats, proteins, essential vitamins, and minerals. It can be a healthy addition to your diet when consumed in moderation.
1: May prevent cardiovascular diseases
Unlike other misconceptions, cashew nuts are beneficial for our heart health. Cashew nuts are rich in essential fatty acids, potassium, and antioxidants that are beneficial for heart health. It contains phytosterols, phenolic compounds, and oleic acid for heart health and makes blood vessels stronger.
Cashew nuts help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and improve good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the internal inflammation that may cause a risk of getting heart disease.
2: Help lower the blood pressure
Cashew nuts are rich in healthy unsaturated fats and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and L-arginine. It helps reduce blood pressure drastically by dilating your blood vessels.
3: May prevent and control diabetes
For people with type 2 diabetes, adding cashew to their diet can essentially control the blood sugar level. It is a good source of fibre, a nutrient that helps prevent blood sugar spikes. However, due to high-calorie content, it is recommended to have only 3-4 cashews per day.
4: Immunity booster
Cashew nuts are rich in zinc and vitamins that keep you healthy. Zinc is an immune-boosting compound that is vital for basic cell processes. Regular intake of zinc may provide you with the required amount of zinc and vitamins that ultimately enhance your immunity.
5: It May help strengthen bones
For healthy bones, we need a lot of minerals, and cashew nuts have them all. Cashew nuts are rich in copper and calcium that gives strength to our bones and make them stronger. Copper helps in keeping your joints flexible by synthesizing collagen.
6: Help boost brain functions
The brain is the most active organ of our body that requires a steady supply of fatty acids through diet to stay active. Cashew nuts contain brain booster nutrients that may help boost brain functions and keep your memory sharp. To improve brain function, you can eat overnight soaked cashews.
7: Help control weight
Cashews are consumed as a snack and also used in nut mixes. Cashew nuts are high in calories, proteins, and fibres that make you fuller for a longer time and kill your cravings. But since nuts are high in calories, it’s essential to consume them in moderation.
8: Good for health
Cashew nuts contain a natural oil that is rich in selenium, zinc, iron, and antioxidants. It keeps your skin young and fresh. Copper improves the production of elastin and collagen. Collagen is an integral structural protein that is responsible for the elasticity of your skin.
9: Beneficial for hair
Copper present in cashew helps produce hair pigment-melanin that enhances hair colour. The essential fatty acids also keep your hair shiny and healthy.
10: Good for eye health
Cashews contain zeaxanthin and lutein which are antioxidants that protect from UV rays. The antioxidant pigments naturally occur in the eyes and are an essential defence against damaging light and may reduce the risks of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.
11: May increase male fertility
Cashew nuts are rich in zinc which is essential to improve sperm count in males and fertility chances. Also, regular intake of cashew may help control weight and diabetes which increases male fertility drastically.
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12. Easy to add to your diet
Cashews are super easy to add to your diet and can be consumed roasted, salted or raw. They can be added to a variety of dishes, both savoury and sweet either whole, grounded or in paste-like consistency. Additionally, you can also enjoy cashews in the form of cashew butter and just spread it on your toast, add to your pancakes, oatmeal or parathas. You can even make energy balls using cashew butter, roasted oatmeal, fried fruits and honey or jaggery.
Those who are vegans can use cashews to make vegan cream cheese by blending it with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. You can use it to make cheesecakes and other kinds of cream cheese-based desserts.
13. Can Prevent Blood-Related Disorders
Copper deficiency in the body is the main source of iron deficiency which then leads to anaemia. Consuming cashews regularly in moderation can effectively increase the level of copper in your body and fight free radicals as cashews nuts are enriched with copper.
Drawbacks of Having Too Much Cashew Nuts:
There are downsides to everything in life and so it is with having too many cashews. Some potential health factors you need to keep in mind are:
- Roasted or salted cashews often contain high amounts of oil or salt which may be damaging to your health. For optimal benefits, best advised to consume cashews in their raw form may be dry roasted without any oil or salt. Roasting cashews without oil has been scientifically proven to release antioxidants which is great for your health.
- If you are considering adding cashews to any dishes it is advised by experts to soak them overnight. This is because cashews contain phytates that make it challenging for your body to extract minerals and vitamins. Soaking the cashews lowers the phytates content and improves digestibility.
These are some of the health benefits of cashew nuts as well as some of the drawbacks to consider.
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Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.