Cashews: health benefits, properties

Cashews are packed with valuable nutrients and offer numerous health benefits. Discover the properties of cashews and their beneficial characteristics.

Cashews are oilseeds rich in properties. Botanically, the cashew tree is a medium-sized evergreen tropical plant native to the Amazon rainforest, belonging to the Anacardiaceae family and known by the scientific name Anacardium Ovest.

Cashews are mainly grown in Brazil, Vietnam, India, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. The cashew tree usually provides two types of fruit that are intimately joined together: a fresh fruit, the “cashew apple” or “caju apple” in Portuguese; and a dry fruit, the “almond or cashew hazelnut”, called “walnut or caju almond”, which constitutes the cashew as we know it today, that small oily seed whose shape resembles a bean, used as a fundamental ingredient of recipes from around the world, especially in Asian cuisine.

Cashews: calories and nutritional values

Cashews, like all dried fruit, have a rather high calorie content. 100 grams of cashews, in fact, bring about 550 Kcal. This value is also due to the high quantity of good fats contained in these foods. In particular, cashews contain monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid and palmitoleic acid which help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and to increase good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood; cashews, therefore, are to be considered true friends of the heart, useful in preventing coronary heart disease and stroke, promoting a healthy lipid profile. In addition to the good fat content, they also provide a good share of vegetable protein and carbohydrates.

There are also mineral salts and trace elements such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, selenium and copper.

Cashews also contain some vitamins, including vitamin B3, vitamin B6 and vitamin E, a very powerful antioxidant that protects cells from the action of free radicals. Furthermore, cashews are a good source of zeaxanthin, an important antioxidant pigment with the function of filtering UV rays and the prevention of macular degeneration linked to aging.

Nutritional values ​​per 100g of cashews:

  • Waterfall: 5.2 g
  • kcal: 553
  • Proteins: 18.22 g
  • Fat: 43.85 g
  • of which saturated: 7.78 g
  • Carbohydrates: 30.19 g
  • of which sugars: 5.91 g
  • Fibers: 3.3 g
  • Potassium: 660 mg
  • Phosphorus: 593 mg
  • Niacin: 1.062 mg
  • Vitamin E: 0.9 mg
  • Glycemic index: 22
  • Cholesterol: 0 g

Cashews: health benefits

Among nuts, cashews play an important role in our health. The richness and synergy of all the nutrients just seen, in fact, give cashews useful properties for our health. In particular, the daily intake of cashews helps to lower cholesterol and keep the heart healthy, helps in case of diabetes, reduces the risk of gallstone formation and promotes bone health. Let’s see in more detail.

✓ Cashews, cholesterol and heart health

Among the benefits of cashews, we find in the first place those for the cardiovascular system. The monounsaturated acids and polyunsaturated fats contained in fruits are known to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack. Additionally, cashews are good sources of magnesium, the mineral involved in muscle relaxation, transmission, and neuromuscular activity. Several studies have shown how it would be enough to consume at least 4 servings a week of dried fruit to reduce the risk of incurring coronary heart disease by 37%!

✓ Cashews and weight control

Thanks to the excellent sense of satiety that dried fruit (including cashews) determines, it should be daily present in the diet of every individual, especially in those who have to reduce their body weight. In the case of a low-calorie diet, it will still be important not to exceed the doses and consume cashews instead of a snack. Eating too many cashews, in fact, could make you fat or in any case not help the weight loss process, having the opposite effect to that sought.

✓ Useful against diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes may find it beneficial to include cashews in their diet. This is due to the fact that cashews are a good source of fiber and good fats, nutrients that help prevent blood sugar spikes and lower blood sugars.

✓ Reduction of the risk of gallstones

Recent studies have shown that the daily introduction of a portion of dried fruit would be able to reduce the development of gallstones and consequently incur in cholecystectomy operations.

✓ Bone health

Cashews are an excellent source of copper, and severe copper deficiency is associated with lower bone mineral density and an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

How many cashews to eat

Before seeing some simple tips on how to use them, let’s define the quantities: how many cashews to eat per day? One serving corresponds to 28 g which is equivalent to about 18 fruits. It is also possible to consume them 3 or 4 times a week, alternating them with other nuts to vary the diet as much as possible. You can add these to your daily diet thanks to a few simple tricks.

Cashews: how to use and store them

Cashews can be eaten as a simple snack or placed in a more varied context. Here are some examples of how to eat cashews:

  • Prepare a mix of dried and dried fruit, a single portion sachet can be consumed as a snack during your breaks;
  • Blend the cashews in a food processor or blender. You will get a cashew butter that you can enjoy in the morning on 2 slices of wholemeal bread still warm from a toaster;
  • Add a teaspoon of cashews to your next salad;
  • Crushed cashews can be added to your yogurt or, why not, can be the basis for a healthy and crunchy breading.

As for conservation, it should be remembered that cashews have a high fat content and therefore are subject to rancidity. Once purchased, it is essential to store them in a cool, dark and dry place. If you prefer to keep them in the refrigerator, it is better to close them in an airtight container, they should safely last at least 1 year, otherwise keep them in the freezer.

Raw and roasted cashews: nutritional differences

When carried out at temperatures below 130 ° C and for short times (less than 15 minutes), roasting does not substantially change the characteristics of cashews, except by reducing their water content and slightly concentrating their nutrients. In fact, 100 g of roasted cashews contain 1.7 g of water, while raw cashews, in the same quantities, contain just over 5.

On the contrary, excessive temperatures and times can affect the beneficial properties of this food, oxidizing good fats, degrading some vitamins and antioxidants, and developing toxic substances such as acrylamide. Among the components contained in cashews and which could be most affected by roasting at excessive temperatures (140 – 150 ° C or more) include vitamin E, vitamin B1 and carotenoids.

Cashews: potential negative effects and contraindications

One of the main contraindications of cashews is given by allergy. Cashew allergy is a fairly common hypersensitivity condition in many individuals, especially children. Reaction symptoms can range from simple itching (hives) to severe forms of anaphylactic manifestation, including difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

Allergic manifestations are caused by anacardic acid, a chemical compound present in these fruits. Or by cross-reactions triggered by the ingestion of other fruits always belonging to the Anacardiaceae family such as mango and pistachio. Individuals with a known allergy to cashew nuts should avoid the consumption of this fruit and be careful in consuming those fruits that can trigger a cross-reaction.

Pay attention to excessive consumption even in case of gastritis since cashews (and more generally nuts) could worsen the symptoms due to the high fat content. Finally, remember that cashews have a rather high content of nickel, therefore it is good to pay attention to its consumption in case of allergy to this metal.


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