Native to South America, specifically Brazil, and were introduced by colonist to Africa and India. These regions are the largest producers of cashews today. Cashews are sold both raw or roasted, and salted or unsalted.
Cashews contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, including oleic and palmitoleic acids (Nutrition and You, 2012). These are essential fatty acids that have been associated with lower levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol and higher levels of healthy HDL cholesterol. As a result, consumption of the monounsaturated fats in cashews is associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (Kris-Etherton, 1999).
Cashews Provide Nearly 100 Percent of Your Recommended Daily Copper Intake. Copper is a trace mineral that we get in very small amounts, mostly from animal sources such as crab, mussels, liver and oysters. The presence of copper is required for a variety of physiological reactions in the body (Prohaska, 2014), including reactions needed for energy production, the metabolism of iron, and neurotransmission. Failure to get enough copper has been associated with poor immune system functioning; higher risk of cardiovascular disease; increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s; and impaired bone health.
Cashews are an excellent vegetarian source of copper, providing more of the mineral than most other non-meat sources. In fact, eating a quarter-cup of cashews every day gives you 98 percents of the recommended daily intake of copper, which may decrease your risk of chronic disease (WH Foods, 2014).
Cashews nut oil is rich in selenium, zinc, magnesium, iron and phosphorous. Also, they are great sources of phytochemicals, proteins and antioxidants. The high percentage of selenium in cashews is not only good for your skin but “helps prevent cancer as well,” says nutritionist Anju Soon.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, 1 ounce of raw cashews (28.35 grams) contains:
. 157 calories
. 8.56 grams (of carbohydrates)
. 1.68 g of sugar
. 0.9 g of fiber
. 5.17 g of protein
. 12.43 g of total fat
. 10 milligrams (mg) of calcium
. 1.89 mg of iron
. 83 mg of magnesium
. 168 mg of phosphorus
. 187 mg potassium
. 3 mg of sodium
. 1.64 mg of zinc
A 1-ounce serving of cashews is about 18 whole cashews. Cashews are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and a good source of protein.
Cashews are Protein Rich
Cashews provide an excellent source of protein. Protein is one of three macronutrients your body uses for energy, and it is particularly important for rebuilding muscle tissue and creating new cellular compounds. Plus, eating protein prevents you from getting hungry between meals, which can help you stick to a healthy eating plan.
Although many nuts are good sources of protein, cashews stand apart from the pack because of their particularly well-balanced nutritional profile. Each ounce of cashew (about 16 to 18 nuts) contains 160 calories, 5 grams of protein, and 13 grams of fat (most of it heart-healthy monounsaturated fats) (MacMillan, 2015). This makes them less calorie dense than other nuts such as macadamia nuts, which contain 200 calories but only 2 grams of protein per ounce. Thus, eating cashews is an excellent snack choice for people following a low-calories or high-protein diet.
Boost Immune System
In addition to containing high amounts of copper, cashews are a great source of zinc (WH Foods, 2014). Failing to get enough zinc compromises your immune system functioning, since this mineral is important for the development of immune system cells, production of antioxidant enzymes and activity of immune system regulators (Ho, 2013). Each-1 ounce serving of cashew provides 1.6 mg of zinc, helping you advance toward your recommended daily target of 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. In numerous studies, boosting zinc intake has been associated with a healthier immune response, meaning that cashews could help you fight off you next cold (Ho, 2013).
Cashews Are an Excellent Source of Antioxidants
Antioxidants, the compounds that counteract oxidative damage in the cell. Antioxidants sweep through the cell, neutralizing free radicals that can cause cellular damage.
The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids found in cashews can help decrease LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attack.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that the risk of coronary heart disease may be 37 percent lower in people who consume nuts more than four times per week compared with people who never or seldom consume nuts.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved a health claim for food labels that “eating 1.5 oz per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
Magnesium is also involved in muscle relaxation and neuromuscular transmission and activity.
Magnesium deficiency, prevalent in older populations is linked to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease and osteoporosis
Several studies have found that a high intake of calcium without sufficient magnesium could increase the risk of arterial calcification and cardiovascular disease, as well as kidney stones.
People with the highest intake of magnesium were found in the Framingham Heart Study to have a 58-percent lower chance of having coronary artery calcification and a 34-percent lower chance of andominal artery calcification.
Limited data suggest that routine nut consumption is associated with a higher expenditure of energy while resting. This could have implications for weight management. In addition, in trials that compare weight loss between food regimens that include nut consumption in moderation were linked to greater weight loss.
A study publushed in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004 found that women who reported rarely eating nuts had a greater incidence of weight gain over an 8-year period than women who consumed nuts two or more times a week.
The researchers concluded that eating nuts does not lead to a weight gain, and that it may help maintain a healthy weight.
A review of studies published in 2017 concluded that nuts can help maintain a healthy weight. They may do this by helping a person feel full and contributing to thermogenesis, which is the production of heat in the body. This can help boost the metabolism
Eating Cashews Lower Your Risk of Gallstones
Gallstones are made up of hardened cholesterol or a compound called bilirubin, and they can be extremely painful. In a study of more than 80,000 women, eating nuts such as cashews was associated with a 25 percent lower risk of developing gallstones (Ros, 2010). Thus, enjoying cashews every day could lower your risk of painful gallstons.
In addition, according to a study in the American Journal Clinical Nutrition, frequent nut consumption is associated with a reduced risk of needing surgery to remove gallbladder.
In over a million people documented over a time span of 20 year, women who consumed more than 5 ounces of nuts a week had a significantly lower risk of cholecystectomy than women who are less than 1 ounce of nut each week.
Severe copper deficiency is associated with lower bone mineral density and an increased risk of osteoporosis. More research is needed, however, on the effects of marginal copper deficiency and the potential benefits of copper supplementation for prevention and management of osteoporosis.
Copper also plays an important role in the maintenance of collagen and elastin, major structural components of our bodies. Without sufficient copper, the body cannot replace damaged connective tissue or the collagen that makes up the scaffolding for bone. This can lead to a range of problems, including joint dysfunction as bodily tissues begin to break down.
The magnesium in cashews is also important for bone formation as it helps with the assimilation of calcium into the bone. Manganese, another mineral in cashews, has been shown to prevent osteoporosis in combination with calcium and copper.
Cashews Contain No Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy compound that accumulates in the blood, leading to plaque that can restrick cardiovascular functioning. Avoiding cholesterol in your diet can be a healthy choice that promotes optimal blood circulation. Cashews contain no cholesterol, making them an extraordinarily heart-healthy choice.