Top Health Benefits of Cashew Nuts
The modern-day name cashew comes from the Portuguese word for the fruit of the cashew tree, which is caju. This translates in Portuguese to “nut that produces itself.” But actually it isn’t really a nut all.
Cashews are actually the kidney-shaped seeds that adhere to the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree, which is native to the coastal areas of north-eastern Brazil. The cashew tree is now widely grown in tropical regions around the world, especially India, Nigeria, Vietnam, the Ivory Coast and Indonesia.
Best Cashews to buy
It is best to buy raw cashews if possible, with plain “dry roasted” cashews being your second best option. All cashews sold to customers have their outer shells removed because they’re considered “toxic” and likely to hold bacteria.
You definitely want to avoid cashews or other nuts that are coated in vegetable oils or sugar and other artificial additives. You also should avoid buying ready-made trail type mixes as these will tend to have these things added. So do check the label carefully when you buy cashew to ensure that no extra sugar, preservatives, hydrogenated vegetable oil, chemicals or preservatives have been added to your cashews or cashew butter.
Becoming a “Label Detective”
When it comes to choosing and ensuring that foods you are buying are healthy foods, you do have to become what I call a “Label Detective”. I have been caught out so many times in the past, thinking something is healthy. Then when getting home and reading the label more closely I find that there are added things that I don’t want to be eating, because they are not healthy. I get so frustrated when things are added to foods that just don’t need to be in there. Worst of all they are causing harm to our health.
Packed with Nutrition
Cashews are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These include vitamins E, K, and B6, along with minerals like copper, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron, and selenium, all of which are important for maintaining good bodily function. So they are really good to include as part of your regular eating habits.
There are number of health benefits from eating cashews:
Help Maintain Healthy Skin
The nutritional content of cashews supports healthy skin due to the presence of healthy essential fatty acids.
Healthy sources of fat are needed to keep skin hydrated and free from irritation, flaking and premature aging.
It also helps in the formation of collagen, which supports skin’s elasticity and reduces skin aging.
Good for Heart Health
Research shows that eating more nuts, such as cashews, can lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Nuts are naturally cholesterol-free and contain good amounts of heart-healthy fats, fibre, and protein.
As a result cashews can help lower LDL cholesterol (this is considered the dangerous kind) and improve HDL cholesterol (the“good”cholesterol).
Cashews are also associated with lowered triglyceride levels and reduced levels of inflammation, all of which help protect you from heart disease, heart attacks or stroke
They also contain arginine, which protects the inner lining of artery walls.
Can Help with Weight Loss
Cashews are also a good source of plant-based protein. Around 25% of the nut is made up of amino acids. This is partially in the form of a highly beneficial amino acid known as L-arginine. L-arginine is known as the “Miracle Molecule” and is a precursor of nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide helps to keep arteries clear and it improves circulation.
When you have improved blood flow it will help to take toxins out from the digestive system. The natural reaction of our bodies to toxins is to create fat cells to store them in order to protect our vital organs.
Cashews are made of approximately 46 percent fat — but they’re also very nutrient-dense and provide a lot of important minerals and fatty acids that support weight loss. Eating cashews can help you feel fuller after a meal. They can also help to reduce snacking on unhealthy foods, and help curb food cravings which are beneficial to weight loss.
Healthy fats in general make food more satisfying and increase nutrient absorption of fat-soluble important vitamins like Vitamin D and Vitamin A.
Help in the maintenance of good bone health
Cashews contain calcium, potassium and magnesium together with a low sodium intake. These are minerals are associated with protection against bone demineralisation. The bone-building benefits also come from their supply of vitamin K. In fact, cashews contain 12% of your daily Vitamin K needs. Vitamin K works with other minerals like calcium to prevent bone fractures and osteoporosis.
May Help Prevent Colon, Prostate and Liver Cancers
Nuts are very good sources of antioxidants. These are needed to protect the body from high levels of free radical damage that causes oxidative stress, potentially contributing to DNA damage, cell mutation and formation of cancerous tumours.
Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralisation by antioxidants. Free radicals are produced when doing strenuous exercise, like working out in the gym. It is important to be taking enough antioxidants to balance out the free radicals.
Free radicals are the unstable molecules that react with other substances in your body to damage cells or create abnormal ones. Free radicals are unavoidable and are created naturally as your body performs its everyday functions. In fact, they are even necessary for some processes. A important way to help balance the free radicals in your body is to have a diet that is rich and varied in natural plant foods.
Lowers the risk of Diabetes
The number of people with Type 2 Diabetes is increasing at a rapid rate and also in children as young as 10 years old. This is a serious problem. So how can cashews help?
Cashews are a great source of MUFA fats, which slow the rate at which blood is released into the bloodstream. MUFA fats are monounsaturated fatty acids, plant-based fats found in some of the world’s most delicious foods—avocado, nuts and seeds, oils, olives, and dark chocolate!
Studies also show that these good-for-you fats enhance heart health and protect against chronic disease. So eating more of these good fats and less of the bad fats is good for your overall health.
Bad fats are typically saturated fat and trans-fat.
What are Trans-fats?
Trans- fat is short for “trans fatty acids.” Trans fat appears in foods that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These are the worst fats for you.
You might find trans fat in the following types of food:
Fried foods (French fries, doughnuts, deep-fried fast foods)
Baked goods (biscuits, cakes, pies and pastries)
Processed snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn)
What are Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are typically margarine, lard, beef or pork fat.
The anti-diabetic properties of cashews nutrition is partially due to the active ingredients called hydroethanolic extract in the form of anacardic acid, which stimulates glucose transport and control. Hydro-ethanolic extract of cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale) nut and its principal compound, anacardic acid, stimulate glucose uptake
Cashews also help lower the levels of inflammation in the body. Studies show that a diet higher in nuts results in lower circulation of inflammatory biomarkers that can contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes formation.
In addition, the nutritional benefits of cashews include the ability to prevent or treat other complications of diabetes including arterial hypertension, obesity and cardiovascular risk.
Supporting a Healthy Brain
Several dietary components of cashews such as zinc, iron and copper and healthy fats can help support cognitive abilities and multiple brain processes by regulating neurotransmitter pathways, synaptic transmission and membrane fluidity.
An increased risk of several mental disorders such as ADHD, anxiety. depression, dyslexia and dementia has been associated with a deficiency of healthy MUFA (Monounsaturated plant based fats) and PUFA (omega-3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids) fatty acids in the diet.
Can Help Prevent Headaches
Cashews help support healthy brain function and improve blood circulation whilst also lowering blood pressure. Nuts also provide plant-based phytosterols, which are beneficial for reducing headache duration and occurrence.
All in all cashews are a really good “nut” to add to your regular diet. They are great to take to work and have as mid-morning snack for example. Plus they bring lots of very beneficial health benefits.
Great to add to stir fry dishes or they can be ground to a flour and used to thicken stews and curries.
You can find healthy recipes here