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Cashews – Health Benefits

What are cashews ?

Cashews are nuts that are very tasty and nutritious and have a delicate texture. It was always thought that nuts are bad for one’s health, but research has proved that limited intake of cashews or nuts can decrease the risk to cardiac disease and other ailments. However, excess intake of nuts or cashews can lead side effects such as obesity. One can use cashews to supplement food items that are high in saturated fats such as dairy, meat and eggs.

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History of Cashews

Cashews grow on the cashew tree that is from the Anacardiaceae family. The tree was originally native to northern South America, but the Portuguese brought it to India during the 1500s and subsequently it spread to the rest of the Asian countries and even Africa.

The tree is evergreen and at 32 feet is rather small in size. The trunk of the tree is odd shaped. The fruit of the tree is not exactly a fruit. Often called the cashew apple, the fruit develops in the cashew flower’s receptacle and ripens into a yellow and/or red fruit.

The pulp of the cashew fruit is soft and is sometimes used to make refreshing juices. Within the fruit is the cashew nut. The nut is covered by chemicals that irritate the skin and hence cashews are roasted to destroy the toxin.

Health benefits of Cashews

Cashew health benefits are many and some of them are discussed below:

  • Cashews are rich in fat but they do not contain cholesterol. Hence most of the fat is monounsaturated fat that is healthy for the heart. When saturated fats are replaced by unsaturated fats in the diet, it results in lowered levels of LDL or bad cholesterol. This prevents the blocking of arteries, the buildup of plaque and the risk to strokes and cardiac arrests. Additionally, Omega-3 fatty acids are a part of the overall cashew nutrition which promotes the health of the heart.
  • Another cashew health benefit is provided by the rich content of vitamin and minerals present in cashews. The nut has ample amounts of magnesium, copper, manganese and zinc that are essential for the body. Magnesium helps maintain the balance between potassium and calcium and also decreases the risk to heart attacks and hypertension. Additionally, cashews also contain vitamin E.
  • An amino acid called arginine is also a part of cashew nutrition. Arginine relaxes the arteries and makes them more flexible thereby promoting a healthy heart.

Side effects of Cashews

  • Cashews are high in calories and hence excess intake of the nuts can result in weight gain and obesity.
  • Individuals who are allergic to nuts should avoid its intake. Cashew allergies are the worst of all nuts and can result in anaphylaxis which is a life threatening condition. Other minor allergic reactions include rashes, vomiting, itching in the throat and mouth, hives, nausea and diarrhea.
  • Excessive intake of salted peanuts can increase the sodium levels in the body and increase the risk to hypertension.
  • People who suffer from migraines or headaches should avoid cashew consumption as it can lead to adverse side effects.

Cashew – Nutritional facts

For every 100 grams, here is the nutritional information in raw Cashew

Energy 553 kcal
Carbohydrates 30.19 g
Sugars 5.91 g
Dietary fiber 3.3 g
Fat 43.85 g
Protein 18.22 g
Thiamine (vit. B1) .42 mg
Riboflavin (vit. B2) .06 mg
Niacin (vit. B3) 1.06 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5) .86 mg
Vitamin B6 .42 mg
Folate (vit. B9) 25 μg
Vitamin C .5 mg
Calcium 37 mg
Iron 6.68 mg
Magnesium 292 mg (82%)
Manganese 1.66 mg (79%)
Phosphorus 593 mg (85%)
Potassium 660 mg (14%)
Sodium 12 mg (1%)
Zinc 5.78 mg (61%)

 

 

 

 

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