Unveiling the Health Secrets of Cashews: Nutritional Powerhouse and Disease Fighter

Unveiling the Health Secrets of Cashews: Nutritional Powerhouse and Disease Fighter

Cashew nuts, known for their delicate, sweet flavor, are rich in nutrients and health benefits. Scientifically proven to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes, these nuts can also help shed extra pounds when consumed daily. Let's explore the other benefits of cashews.

Cashews come from the Western cashew tree (also known as Anacardium occidentale L.), a species in the sumac family closely related to mangos (which also belong to the sumac family). Native to the tropical regions of South America, particularly Brazil, these kidney-shaped nuts are also cultivated in India, Vietnam, and Central Africa. The Brazilian variety is larger and sweeter, while the Indian variety is smaller, crunchier, but less sweet.

Cashew Nuts and Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Researchers from the University of Montreal (Canada) and the University of Yaoundé (Cameroon) have demonstrated that cashew nut extract stimulates the absorption of glucose by muscle cells, improving tissue sensitivity to insulin. Their findings, published in "Molecular Nutrition & Food Research," show that extracts from other parts of the plant do not yield the same benefits.

Cashews, with their low glycemic index of 15, are also suitable for diabetics.

Nutritional Values of Cashews (per 100g)

  • Energy: 533 kcal
  • Protein: 18.22 g
  • Fat: 43.85 g
  • Carbohydrates: 30.19 g (including simple sugars 5.91)
  • Fiber: 3.3 g
  • Vitamins: Vitamin C – 0.5 mg, Thiamine – 0.423 mg, Riboflavin – 0.058 mg, Niacin - 1.062 mg, Vitamin B6 - 0.417 mg, Folic Acid - 25 µg, Vitamin E – 0.90 mg, Vitamin K - 34.1 µg
  • Minerals: Calcium – 37 mg, Iron - 6.68 mg, Magnesium - 292 mg, Phosphorus - 593 mg, Potassium - 660 mg, Sodium – 12 mg, Zinc - 5.78 mg
  • Fatty Acids: Saturated - 7.783 g, Monounsaturated - 23.797 g, Polyunsaturated - 7.845 g (Source: USDA National Nutrient Database)

Cashews for Hypertension and Heart Disease Cashews support cardiovascular health thanks to essential unsaturated fatty acids that prevent cholesterol and triglyceride levels from rising and ensure the health of blood vessels. Rich in potassium (660 mg/100 g) that lowers blood pressure and regularizes heartbeats, cashews also contain magnesium (292 mg/100 g) for artery dilation and heart attack prevention, as well as vitamin K (34.1 µg/100 g) for maintaining proper blood clotting levels.

Cashews are recommended in the DASH diet, aimed at preventing hypertension.

Cashews for the Nervous System Cashews support the nervous system, being a source of B vitamins, especially niacin (1.062 mg/100 g), which calms nerves, boosts energy, and improves focus and memory. The calming properties are also attributed to their potassium and magnesium content.

Beware of Moldy Cashews Avoid cashews with a moldy, musty taste, as they may contain harmful aflatoxins. It's better to purchase packaged cashews, protected from air, light, and moisture, to slow down the harmful oxidation process.

Cashews in Weight Loss Diets Though cashews provide 553 kcal per 100 g, they can be part of a weight loss diet. According to research in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," a daily handful of nuts, including cashews, can minimize hunger and reduce belly fat. Cashews raise serotonin levels, which reduce appetite and improve mood. Their unsaturated fats also support weight loss.

Cashews for Healthy Hair and Nails Cashews contain selenium and zinc, crucial for maintaining beautiful hair and nails. Recommended for people with weak, greasy hair, zinc absorbs sebum and prevents hair loss.

Cashews in Cooking Cashews are best consumed raw for health benefits, with their unique, slightly sweet taste making them one of the tastiest nuts. They're a great addition to desserts and salads and a key ingredient in Indian curry dishes.

Cashew butter, healthier than peanut butter, has a more favorable omega-3 to omega-6 ratio and is rich in iron, magnesium, and zinc.

The Western cashew tree's fruit, the cashew apple, is used to make wine, juices, jams, and marmalades. Its flesh is rich in vitamin C and B2.

Back to blog