Without a doubt, cashews are my favorite nut. They are a go-to pocket snack for many of us.
Often referred to as tree nuts in a culinary sense, cashews are seeds in real.
In terms of nutrition, cashews are similar to nuts. They’re nutrient-dense, containing beneficial plant compounds that make them an easy addition to many dishes.
Like most nuts, cashews may also help boost our overall health.
In this article, we will review :
- What are Cashews?
- Steps in the Processing of Cashews
- Cashews Nutrition Facts
- Uses of Cashews
- Health Benefits of Cashews
- Conclusion and My Recommendation
What are Cashews?
Cashews are popular seeds, having an excellent taste and aroma with a silky texture.
Cashew apples grow on cashew trees, which prevail in tropical evergreen forests. Cashew nuts are the seeds of cashew apples.
Did you know the cashew tree is native to northeast Brazil?
Portuguese people brought it to Goa, India, in the second half of 1500. Afterward, it spread around Southeast Asia and Africa.
In 2017, Vietnam, India, and Ivory Coast were the top producers of cashew nuts.
Steps in the Processing of Cashews
1. Steaming and shelling. The shelled cashews are steamed to soften the shell, making it easier to remove the cashew nuts by hand.
2. Drying. Cashews are dried at low heat to loosen the skin.
3. Peeling and grading. Each cashew’s skin is removed by hand; simultaneously, the nuts are ranked according to their quality.
The criteria for grading are the whiteness of the cashew and how broken the kernels are.
4. Quality assurance. Cashews are picked by hand, oven-heated, and examined for metal and dust to ensure quality.
5. Packing. Cashews are packed in a modified atmosphere of low oxygen and high carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
This lengthy process is perhaps one of the reasons cashews are so expensive.
Cashews Nutrition Facts
Uses of Cashews
The pleasant taste of cashews make the nuts a special ingredient in Indian and Pakistani cuisine.
Whether it’s garnishing sweets and desserts or making delightful savory rice dishes like rice-pulao, cashews rock them.
Cashew is a charm in Thai and Chinese cuisine as well.
Commonly used as a snack, there are different varieties of cashews on the market, i.e., raw, roasted, salted, and unsalted.
Raw and unsalted versions are best, as roasted and salted cashews may contain high added oils or salt levels.
The cashew seed’s shell is used in lubricants, waterproofing, paints, and arms production.
Cashew apples are light reddish to yellow in color, edible, and can be served as cashew juice.
Health Benefits of Cashews
Cashews contain healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which help in reducing the bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride levels that are significant threats to our heart.
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition stated that cashew’s consumption could increase HDL (good) cholesterol and reduce systolic blood pressure.1<https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/148/1/63/4823695>
The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) established a compelling relationship between nuts’ intake and the lower possibility of death from major chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus.2<https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1307352>
NEJM also says nuts are nutrient-dense foods rich in unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and plenty of other bioactive substances, including phenolic antioxidants and phytosterols.3<https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/138/9/1746S/4750850> 4<https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/potential-of-nuts-in-the-prevention-of-cancer/B4C77FDE30835862D02BDD3070EF7B33>
Recent evidence has busted the myth that nut consumption is associated with weight gain. In fact, people who eat nuts regularly lose weight faster than those who exclude them from their diet.
According to the research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, nut consumption is not associated with higher BMI than non-nut consumers.
However, nuts are fat and energy-dense foods.5<https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/78/3/647S/4690007>
Moreover, nuts like cashews are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which boost our metabolism; thus, we lose body weight.
Cashews are very nutritious and convenient as a snack, especially for those who want to lose weight, as they give a feeling of fullness. As mentioned, raw unsalted cashews are the best option.
Cashews are high in trace minerals, which are vital for bone health.6<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8409100/>
Only a handful of foods have an adequate amount of copper. One ounce of cashews completes 67% of our DV.
The Food and Nutrition Board advocates a daily intake of 900 mcg of copper for adults ages 19 and over.
Copper deficiency is connected with low bone mineral density and an increased risk of osteoporosis.7<https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Copper-HealthProfessional/>
Also, a lack of copper in the daily diet can affect connective tissues, leading to joint dysfunction.8<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6118903/#:~:text=Copper%20functions%20in%20the%20oxidative,structural%20integrity%20of%20these%20proteins.>
Magnesium in cashews helps absorb calcium into bone, which triggers bone formation.
Manganese, one more mineral in cashews, is helpful in the prevention of osteoporosis.
Copper’s benefits are not limited to bone health; it also has a role in skin well-being.
Copper is responsible for skin generation and the creation of collagen and elastin, two proteins that promote skin strength and elasticity.9<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556990/>
It is critical to maintain ideal collagen levels to ensure optimal skin health; a deficit of collagen can lead to skin aging.
It is no surprise that different civilizations used copper and copper compounds to cure skin maladies for more than two millennia.
By adding foods like cashews to our diet regularly, we can ensure our recommended daily intake of copper is met.
Prevention of Eye Damage
Lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants found in cashews, may prevent our eyes from developing cellular damage caused by free radicals, which are highly unstable molecules.10<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20387832/>
After a 26-year study of over 102,000 adults ages 50 years and older, researchers found those who ingested lutein and zeaxanthin regularly were 40% less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration disease.11<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26447482/>
Another study claimed the intake of these antioxidants reduces the risk of cataracts by 42%.12<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22005336/>
Low consumption of lutein and zeaxanthin is also linked with poor retinal health.13<https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30260964/>
Conclusion and My Recommendation
There is a reason cashews are one of the most liked go-to pocket snacks.
When we talk about nutrition, cashews are abundant in vitamins and minerals and other nutrients.
A great taste, aroma, and texture give them a special place in different cuisines.
This incredible nut is a route to many health gains, like reduced risk of heart and other chronic diseases, eye health, the well-being of the skin, bone health, weight loss, and more.
I add cashews to my diet regularly. Just remember to pick the raw and unsalted version.
Adding this gem into your daily eating habits is a win-win situation for all of us.
What do you think about this article? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!
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