Cashew nuts are one people’s favourite snacks in the world. These kidney-shaped seeds are produced by the cashew tree and have many uses, particularly in cooking. Aside from being a delicious snack, though, they offer many health benefits. To learn more, keep reading!
What are Cashews?
The cashew tree is found in many tropical areas in the world and were a native tree in coastal areas of north-eastern Brazil. This tree belongs to the family Anacardiaceae, whose other members include pistachios and mangoes. They are plucked from the bottom of the cashew apple. While the tree generally grows to about 14 metres tall, it has a dwarf counterpart that grows to 6 metres.
Cashew leaves are organized in a spiral and have a leathery texture with an elliptic shape. There are anywhere between 4-22 cm long and 2-15 cm wide. The flowers of the tree are found in clusters measuring up to 26m long. Each cashew flower is small with five slim acute petals. As they mature, they turn from green to red.
Cashew apples are commonly mistaken as being the fruit of the cashew tree, but in fact these ‘apples’ are just swollen seed stems of the true fruit. The actual fruit of the tree is a boxing glove-shaped drupe found at the bottom of the apple. Inside this drupe is a single seed: what we know as cashews. These nuts are usually surrounded by a double shell which contains an allergenic anacardic acid and phenolic acid. These are strong skin irritants chemically connected to urushoil, better known as the irritant in poison ivy.
100 grams of cashews may contain:
|Principle||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Dietary Fiber||3.3 grams||8.5%|
|Total Fat||43.85 grams||146%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||0.5 milligrams||1%|
|Vitamin E||5.31 milligrams||35%|
|Vitamin K||34.1 µg||28%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.864 milligrams||17%|
Uses of Cashews
Cashew nuts are widely used for various culinary purposes, such as making cashew butter or cheese. Indian cuisine often incorporates them as a garnish or ground into a paste to form a curry base.
In the Philippines, cashews are eaten with suman and used for various pastries. Their shell is used to make products like lubricants, paints and waterproofing substances. The shell contains what they call ‘cashew balm’ which may cause contact dermatitis. This is why the nuts are sold without the shell.
Cashew apples are sometimes used to make a sweet fruit drink or even fermented into a liquor.
Health Benefits of Cashews
As shown in the nutrition facts table, cashews have many promising nutrients that trigger interesting health benefits. Below are the top things cashews can do for you.
1. Provides Good sleep
Cashew nuts can provide good and relaxed sleep. This is essential for those suffering from insomnia and restlessness.
2. Prevents Muscular Degeneration
UV radiation causes muscular degeneration, but cashews have the ability to prevent muscular degeneration by filtering the UV rays from the sun.
3. Good for the Heart
Compared to other nuts, cashews have a low fat content. They are cholesterol free and rich in antioxidants, which are good for the heart. They also have magnesium, which lowers the risk of high blood pressure.
4. Averts the Risk of Cancer
Cashews are rich in proanthocyanidins and copper, which help prevent cancer by stopping the cancer cells from dividing further.
5. Eliminates Free Radicals
Cashews help our body utilize iron properly, which helps get rid of free radicals.
The health benefits listed in this article are just a few of the things cashews can do for you. There are many more perks they offer, including preventing gallstones, maintaining healthy hair, promoting weight loss, keeping your teeth and gums healthy and aiding digestion. So what are you waiting for? Try some cashews today!