Cashews—A Healthy Treat or a Boring Nut?

Posted January 27, 2021 by in Health + Fitness

Sweet in flavor and mild in taste, cashews are an amazing treat enjoyed by billions of people across the world. Contrary to harder nuts like almonds and peanuts, cashews have a different vibe. Grown on the cashew tree, they are the most versatile nuts of all.

Since cashews are known as the ‘fatty’ nuts that are extremely rich in carbs, many people sometimes associate cashews with weight gain. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In this article, we will elaborate and explain all the benefits that you can get by consuming one of the most luscious dry fruits of all time:

A smoothie bowl with nuts on a cafe table.

Are Cashews Fattening? 

Not really. When consumed in moderation, cashews are actually quite good for your overall health though cashews are quite low in fiber but are otherwise known to be quite high in carb content. Fortunately, eating moderate amounts of roasted cashews can actually contribute to your daily protein requirements.

Evidence shows that people who eat moderate quantities of nuts are healthier than people who don’t. In fact, you can also boost your metabolism with this wonder and who doesn’t like that?!

Serving Size of Cashews

To maintain your weight, it is important that you keep a track of the recommended serving size. When it comes to nuts, it is quite easy to over eat them because of their delicious taste and small size. Therefore, strict portion control and adherence to the recommended serving size is highly important. Whether you are looking for a delicious serving of flavored cashews, or you just want them to be a part of your latest granola recipe, here is the recommended serving size of cashews: 

  • 1 Oz 
  • Roughly a handful 
  • 18 cashew nuts

Benefits of Cashews 

There are a lot of health benefits of incorporating a portion of cashews in your daily life. If you’re up for buying raw cashews in bulk, here are a few benefits you must know about: 

Cashews Are Healthy For the Heart 

They might be rich in carbs but in comparison to other nuts, they are quite low in cholesterol. Although they might not be a good choice if you are on keto. However, for a low-calorie diet where you introduce a portion of healthy carbs, cashews can be a perfect choice. 

Other than low cholesterol, they are also plentiful in the following heart-healthy compounds:

  • Oleic acid 
  • Phenolic compounds 
  • Phytosterols

Cashews do come with an abundant quantity of unsaturated fats which are actually healthy for heart complications due to obesity like clogged arteries, diabetes, and even hypertension. This form of unsaturated fats when consumed in moderate amounts can actually help you burn bad fats.

People who consume nuts have 37% fewer chances of suffering from heart disease as compared to people who don’t – added that they also take care of their diet. 

Cashews Are Helpful In Reducing Hypertension 

Hypertension and high blood pressure is a serious issue among many people. Almost 70 million Americans (roughly 1 in 3) have hypertension. This is a clear indication of what a serious health issue hypertension is. 

Fortunately, you always have the option to start eating healthy before it’s too late. Cashews are extremely rich in unsaturated fats as well as minerals such as:

  • Magnesium 
  • Potassium
  • L-arginine 

It can actually reduce the blood pressure while significantly lowering your cholesterol levels considering that you are consuming cashews with a healthy diet plan. Even type 2 diabetics who suffer from high blood pressure significantly can lower their systolic BP.

Cashews Are a Great Immunity Booster 

Presently, it is important for people to have a strong immune system – to fight the coronavirus and other health hazards prevailing in this pandemic. Consider yourself lucky to have cashews in this world because these nuts are plentiful in zinc—a natural immunity booster mandatory for various functions of the cells like division, processing, and transcriptions. Taking cashews regularly can also help you in helping different immune processes like: 

  • Phagocytosis 
  • Cytokine production 

Cashews Are Rich in Antioxidants 

Antioxidants are important for your body as they help you to eliminate free radicals and protect the cells from unwanted but persistent cell damage. These antioxidants also help you boost your immune system. The antioxidants that are found in roasted cashews are: 

  • Tocopherol
  • Sterols 

Cashews Are Beneficial For Skin Health 

As we discussed above, cashews are rich in antioxidants. They provide an abundant supply of magnesium, copper, and selenium which help you improve your damaged skin as well as the overall appearance of how you are looking.

The antioxidants present in cashews repair the damaged tissues making your skin look brighter, glowing, and more evenly toned. 

Cashews Give You Luscious Hair 

Copper in cashews is responsible for producing two major things: 

  • Elastin 
  • Collagen

These protein-based compounds are extremely important to maintain the elasticity of the skin as well as shine in hair. You can actually purchase raw cashews in bulk to extract cashew oil or simply just purchase one from the market for your hair. 

Cashews Can Make Your Bones Stronger 

Strong bones are important for your day to day functions. You can have cashews which are extremely rich in proteins and minerals that keep you going. Its abundance in copper will help maintain joint fluids and keep them flexible. Eating a few cashews every day will help you stay healthy and have stronger bones.

So, eat a few cashews every day or spread some cashew butter on your bread every day for healthier bones for a lifetime.

How to Eat Cashews?

Before you go around purchasing a whole cashew tree for your backyard, you need to understand that to safely eat cashews, there are certain tips involved. Even though cashews are grown on a tree (cashew apple), consuming them completely raw – out of the tree can be harmful to health.

In fact, you can suffer from allergic reactions and rashes as well. The reason behind this is that cashews have properties similar to those of poison ivy. Therefore, always opt for the ones that you will find in your grocery stores. The ones you find near your grocery store are either roasted cashews or steamed to kill the toxins and dangerous compounds. 

Best Ways to Eat Cashews 

Because of their mild flavor profile and rich texture, cashews have an extremely versatile flavor profile. They are used as a common ingredient in millions of recipes across the world. Here are a few scrumptious ways to consume cashews: 

  • Cashews can be added in curries (for example the Indian korma). 
  • Cashews can add a mellow flavor profile to your salads. 
  • Cashews can be used in coffee. 
  • Cashews can be mixed in morning cereal. 
  • Cashews can be made into some delicious desserts. 
  • Cashews can be added in a stir fry. 
  • Flavored cashews can be eaten as a snack.

As a matter of fact, there are a lot of dishes that can complement cashews. 

Cashews as a Dairy Substitute 

Cashews can actually make an amazing substitute for dairy products – complete heaven for lactose-intolerant people. There are a lot of things that can be made with cashews or at least obtained from the nut itself. These are: 

  • Cashew butter 
  • Cashew milk 
  • Cashew cheese 

Whether you are lactose intolerant or you are looking for a nice dairy substitute for your paleo diet, cashews can be the best choice. However, since they are rich in carbohydrates, people following a ketogenic diet should avoid them. 

Things to Look Out For When Eating Cashews 

Of course, everything that you eat has certain side-effects. Cashews also have some side-effects that can affect you negatively. Here are a few things that you need to consider: 

Cashews Have a High Oxalate Content 

Due to relatively higher oxalate content, cashews can actually damage your kidneys (kidney stones). But, this is only if you consume them in a significantly larger quantity. Apart from kidney damage, there are a lot of chronic health issues that can arise due to oxalate, for example, organ inflammation. 

Raw Cashews Are Unsafe 

Raw cashews are not only harder to obtain in less tropical regions but in fact, they are also a lot less safe. Cashews straight out of the trees are rich in a compound called urushiol which is extremely toxic for your internal and external system.

Cashews Can Cause Allergies 

You can actually get allergic reactions from cashews if you are allergic to nuts. If you feel discomfort while eating them, it is possible that you are allergic. Therefore, always consult your physician and for parents—get your child tested. 

Woman eating a smoothie bowl with cashews, berries, and coconut.

Cashews are delicious and can be consumed in a lot of ways. From a healthy heart to good immunity, there are a lot of benefits of cashews that people can get by eating a healthy, recommended serving every day.

Instead of eating deeply fried and unhealthy cashew snacks go for the more generic and raw versions with your salads. Cashews do have a few side-effects therefore it is important to stay within the recommended limit and do not consume more than 1 Oz (which is the daily serving size).

Do you like cashews? Let us know in the comments below!

*Photos by Jonathan Borba