Cashew nuts are a highly nutritious type of seed from the cashew apple. Cashews are good for you because of their many health benefits and their nutritional value. Many of their medicinal health benefits are due to the fact they contain healthy fatty acids and antioxidants. Cashews contain high levels of copper, iron, magnesium, selenium, and phosphorus.
Raw, unprocessed cashews are actually poisonous, and you can’t eat raw cashews before they have been processed. However, once processed, cashew nuts make for a delicious, healthy snack that has many benefits to your health. Consuming cashews has been linked to improving cardiovascular health, lowering cholesterol, and even losing weight.
In this article, I will look at the nutritional value of cashews and discuss all the reasons why cashews are good for you.
What Are Cashews?
Cashew trees are native to Brazil and are now cultivated in many countries.
Cashews are actually seeds, not nuts, that grow on the underneath side of the cashew apple (or cashew fruit). The raw cashew nuts or seeds are encased in a shell in the shape of a kidney and surrounded by several toxic layers.
To prepare cashews to make them edible, the raw cashew nuts are roasted to remove the toxic acid. (1)
The majority of cashew nuts are shelled by hand because mechanical methods often result in the nut being damaged. The manual processing methods are one of the reasons why cashews are so expensive.
Cashew nuts are good for your health because they contain dietary fiber, vitamin K, a range of healthy minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Cashews are also a good energy source and 18 medium-sized cashew nuts contain about 5 g protein which is about 10% of your daily protein needs.
Cashews are different from peanuts because they have minerals like copper, magnesium, and manganese. Some people view cashew nuts as healthier than peanuts because they contain more omega-3 fatty acids and less omega-6. An imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6 has been linked to chronic disease and inflammation. (2)
Are Cashews Toxic?
Cashew nuts themselves aren’t toxic, but the shell around the nut contains a toxic oil containing urushiol.
The National Institutes of Health reports that urushiol from cashew shells can cause severe cases of contact dermatitis. Coming into contact with this acidic substance can result in skin rashes, itching, and blisters. Roasting the shells is enough to eliminate the toxins in cashews. (3)
Because great care is taken when processing raw cashews to make them edible, it is rare that someone would suffer from dermatitis due to eating cashew nuts. (3)
Are cashews toxic for dogs?
Dogs can eat cashews and they can be a tasty treat for your pet dog. Cashews are good for your dog’s health because they contain healthy fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients.
Unlike macadamia nuts, which are poisonous for dogs, you can safely give your dog cashew nuts. (4) Because cashew nuts have a lot of calories, you should be careful in the number of nuts per day you feed your dog. 1 oz. (28 g) of cashews contains about 157 calories and 12 g of fat.
What Are Cashew Apples / Fruit?
You can also eat fresh cashew apples which are also a good source of antioxidants. Some people describe the taste of cashew fruits or apples as a very sweet and refreshing taste. The taste of a cashew apple can resemble tropical fruits like mango with citrus overtones.
In countries where cashew trees grow, people use cashew apples in cooking or make chutneys and jams. Cashew apple juice is also used for its medicinal purposes. (5)
Cashew Apple Fruit Juice Has Antioxidants
Juice extracted from cashew apples is rich in antioxidants with many benefits to your health.
The journal Experimental Biology and Medicine reported that cashew apple juice is well-known for its antioxidant properties. Extracted cashew apple juice also contains anti-inflammatory properties with wound-healing potential. Cashew apples are rich in vitamin C, minerals, and antibacterial properties. (6)
Nutritional Value of Cashew Nuts
The nutritional value of cashew nuts means that they are very good for you. Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic say that there are around 18 cashew nuts in 1 oz. (28 g). (7)
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that one ounce (28 g) of cashews contains 8.5 grams of carbs and 157 calories. So, there are approximately 8 calories in one cashew nut. (8)
Cashews are also good for your digestion because 18 cashews contain just under a gram of fiber which is 4% of your RDI.
Cashew nuts are healthy because they have monounsaturated fatty acids that have benefits for your health. Research has found that cashews contain oleic acid, linoleic acid, and palmitoleic acid. (9) Scientists suggest that one ounce serving of cashew nuts a day can help prevent heart disease. (7)
There are also high levels of amino acids and protein in cashews which help keep your muscles and bones strong. For example, 100 grams of cashews contain 18 grams of protein which is about 36% of your RDI. Of course, because 100 g of cashews has 553 calories, it wouldn’t be advisable to consume so many in a day. (10)
Cashews are healthy for you because they contain most of the minerals that your body needs to stay healthy. 1 oz. of cashews contain 0.6 mcg copper (31% RDI), 0.5 mcg manganese (23% RDI), 82 mg magnesium (20% RDI), and 166 mg phosphorus (17% RDI).
Levels of iron in cashews can help to keep your blood healthy and may prevent iron-deficiency anemia. For example, 1 oz. of cashews, or about 18 cashew nuts, contain 2 mg of iron which is 10% of your daily needs.
One study found that the nutritional value of cashews includes important minerals for healthy blood. Apart from cashews being a good source of iron, cashews also contain minerals like calcium, zinc, magnesium, and selenium. All of these minerals have a positive effect on our health. (21)
For example, minerals like selenium, magnesium, and zinc are linked to helping your body fight disease by strengthening the immune system. Many of the minerals in cashew nuts also have anti-inflammatory properties. (11, 12, 13)
Cashews don’t contain sodium; however, you should be careful of consuming salted cashew nuts as too much salt in your diet can affect your heart health.
Antioxidants in cashews
Cashews are also a good source of antioxidants and can help protect your body from the effects of oxidative stress.
The journal Food Science & Nutrition reported that cashews contain vitamin E and fatty acids that all have antioxidant properties. (14) Researchers say that the antioxidant potential of vitamin E can help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, degenerative brain conditions, and cancer. (15)
Researchers have also discovered that consuming more cashews in your diet increases the levels of antioxidants in your body. (16)
You can also increase the levels of antioxidants in cashews by roasting the kernels. One study found that quickly roasting cashews over a high heat increased phenolic acids and flavonoids – all important antioxidants for a healthy body. (17)
Health Benefits of Cashew Nuts
Let’s look in more detail at the many reasons to add a serving of cashews to your daily diet to boost your health.
Cashew Nuts Promote Good Heart Health
The high levels of antioxidants in cashews are excellent to help keep your heart in good health.
Researchers have found that nuts such as cashews are an excellent source of phytosterols and phenolic compounds that are good for your heart. As with many nuts, cashews contain unsaturated fatty acids with low levels of saturated fatty acids. These have an anti-inflammatory effect in your body that helps keep your heart healthy. (18)
Scientists say that nuts like cashews help to reduce your risk of coronary heart disease. There is also evidence to suggest that taking nuts 5 times a week can help to lower your mortality risk of heart disease. (18)
Even though cashews are high in calories, you don’t have to worry that they increase body weight. One study found that increasing your nut intake doesn’t result in a larger waist or BMI. It seems that the dietary benefits of consuming more nuts have a beneficial effect that offsets increased calorie intake. (19)
You can learn about more foods to eat to keep your heart healthy.
Cashew Nuts Can Help Lower Your Cholesterol
One of the reasons that cashew nuts are good for you is that regularly consuming cashews can help lower your “bad” cholesterol.
One trial in 2017 found that the high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids help to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (this is the type of cholesterol that is bad for you). Scientists also found that the saturated fat content of cashews doesn’t impact on overall blood fat levels. (20)
Researchers concluded that swapping high-carb snacks with cashews can help manage your cholesterol levels. (20)
Cashew Nuts Can Help Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
Minerals in cashews like magnesium and potassium help to regulate blood pressure and can benefit you if you have hypertension.
One randomized controlled study from 2018 found that consuming more cashew nuts can help to lower systolic blood pressure in people without causing weight gain. The trial involved 300 adults with type 2 diabetes. The participants were divided into 2 groups and had to follow a standard diabetic diet for 12 weeks. One group consumed 30 g of cashew nuts per day. At the end of the trial, the group taking the cashew nuts had lower blood pressure and higher HDL cholesterol (or, “good” cholesterol). (21)
Did you know that there is evidence to suggest that apple cider vinegar (ACV) can also help to lower blood pressure?
Cashew Nuts Can Help Manage Diabetes Symptoms
Cashews are among some of the healthy nuts that can help to control blood glucose and manage symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
The journal Nutrients reported that consuming nuts such as cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and almonds can help to reduce the effects of type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that nuts have a small effect on controlling blood sugar and in reducing glycemic responses after a meal. (22)
Other studies have shown that cashew nut extract can help to increase glucose uptake and has the potential to be used as a natural anti-diabetic remedy. (23)
Learn about other foods to control your blood sugar levels naturally.
Cashew Nuts Have Minerals That Help Strengthen Bones
Cashew nuts contain vitamins and minerals that promote good bone health and may help prevent conditions like osteoporosis.
A report from 2016 said that nuts such as cashews are a good dietary source of magnesium that helps to keep bones healthy. (24) In fact, 2 oz. of cashew nuts contains about 160 mg of magnesium which is 40% of your daily needs.
Cashews also contain vitamin K which is needed for good bone health. Some research suggests that most people’s diet is deficient in vitamin K. This can affect bone mass density and increase the risk of bone fracture. (25) 2 oz. of cashew nuts contains 19 mcg of vitamin K which is about 25% of your RDI.
Along getting enough vitamin K, learn about the reasons you also need vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis.
Cashew Nuts Can Help Lose Weight
Contrary to popular belief, nuts can actually help you lose weight when combined with a weight-loss program.
Many people tend to avoid nuts if they are trying to lose weight because of their high calorie and fat content. One cup of cashews contains about 700 calories and about 57 g of fat.
However, researchers from Harvard Medical School report that nuts like cashews are little packets of protein and fat. Cashews contain healthy fats as well as good amounts of minerals. Some studies indicate that 2 or more servings of nuts per week can help to prevent weight gain and obesity. (26)
One ounce of cashews also contains 9 grams of carbs and have a glycemic index (GI) of just 3.
Consuming some cashews as a tasty snack can help calm any hunger pangs and help you feel fuller for longer.
To help lose more weight quicker, you can try these 12 simple tweaks for weight loss.
The Health Benefits of Cashew Milk
Another way to get the benefits of cashews is to drink cashew milk. Cashew milk contains the nutritious goodness of cashews but you can use it to make smoothies or as a great dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk.
The journal Nutrients in 2018 published research showing that cashew milk is a rich source of plant sterols. (28) These are important natural antioxidants that help to strengthen the immune system and prevent chronic disease. (29)
Side Effects and Precautions When Consuming Cashews
Many people enjoy cashews along with other nuts as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.
However, for some people, nut allergies can cause potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.
The International Archives of Allergy and Immunology reported in 2018 that cashews can cause severe allergic reactions in some people. Some symptoms of a nut allergy can be abdominal pain, itching, nausea, and difficulty swallowing. In severe cases, anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction that requires emergency medical attention. (28)
Some people may suffer from excess gas and bloating when they consume cashew nuts especially when eating a large number of them.