Nuts are considered by many to be among the world’s most potent of foods — they are right. This is mainly because nuts contain high amounts of nutrients that are needed to achieve a healthy body.
One such nut is the cashew.
A popular food both on its own and as an ingredient in many tasty recipes such as pastries and baked goods, the cashew
) is actually the seed of a tree native to the rich, tropical environs of Central and South America, where it is known as the caju
Cashews have since been brought to other areas such as Asia and Africa, where they are celebrated for their delectable buttery flavor and their creamy texture.
Health benefits of cashews
As with all tree nuts, cashews are incredibly rich in nutrients
, with a single one-ounce serving already packed with nutrients such as healthy fats, essential minerals and vitamins, protein and dietary fiber.
According to the Department of Agriculture
(USDA), the vitamins and minerals that one can get from cashews are:
- 10.5 mg of Calcium
- 1.89 mg of Iron
- 82.8 mg of Magnesium
- 168 mg of Phosphorus
- 187 mg of Potassium
- 3.4 mg of Sodium
- 1.64 mg of Zinc
- 0.622 mg of Copper
- 0.469 mg of Manganese
- 5.64 µg of Selenium
Aside from these, cashews are also packed full of polyphenols and carotenoids
— two classes of antioxidant compounds that are known to help assist the body against the negative effects of free radicals from the environment. How’s that, for a healthy snack?
Because of its rich nutrient content, it’s not surprising to learn that cashews have been linked to a bevy of impressive health benefits
, such as the following:
Cashews can help guard against cardiovascular disease
Want to lower your risk of developing heart disease? Snack on some cashews daily!
A heart-healthy food, cashews -- just like other nuts -- are packed full of monounsaturated (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated (PUFAs) fatty acids
, which are associated with a lesser chance of developing cardiovascular diseases. These fatty acids, as noted in several studies, can help lower one’s Low-Density Lipoprotein or bad cholesterol levels.
One study, for instance, found that people with type 2 diabetes who consumed 10 percent of their daily calories from cashews had much lower levels of LDL cholesterol in their blood compared to those who ate no cashews at all.
According to experts, having low levels of LDL in one’s blood is typically viewed as a marker of good heart health.
Eating cashews may be beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes
Here's another shot of good news: those who may be living with Type 2 diabetes may find it beneficial to add cashews to their diet
This, experts have said, is largely due to cashews being a good source of dietary fiber, a nutrient that can help stave off spikes in one’s blood sugar levels.
Also, the healthy fats and antioxidants in cashews function as a one-two punch against insulin resistance which is considered by most medical experts to be the main driver behind the development of Type 2 diabetes.
Cashews can help protect the body against oxidative damage
Cashews, just like all other healthy nuts and seeds, is considered by many to be an antioxidant powerhouse.
This is because cashews contain beneficial plant compounds
that can help neutralize the damage caused by molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals, according to experts, can cause long-term oxidative stress that damages the body’s cells, proteins and DNA.
This means that letting free radicals run uncontrolled in the body can contribute to the development of a range of conditions such as chronic inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, fatigue, heart disease, diabetes and infertility.
According to experts, the antioxidants in cashews can effectively help counter the negative effects of oxidative cell damage, making it a worthy -- and tasty! -- addition to one’s diet.
Eating cashews may help you manage your weight
People who wish to manage their weight are often told to limit the number of nuts they add to their diets, given the fact that most nuts are rich in calories and fat.
New studies, however, are starting to link diets that are rich in nuts such as cashews to greater weight loss and overall lower body weights. According to experts, this may in part be explained by the fact that nuts are rich in both protein and fiber, which means they can help reduce hunger and promote feelings of fullness
These factors, according to experts, together, can help in healthy and sensible weight management.
Aside from these, eating these tasty nuts has also been linked to even more health benefits
such as the following:
- Optimal brain function
- Optimal bone health and development
- Good eye health
- Healthy thyroid function
- Optimal skin and hair development
How can I add cashews to my diet?
Aside from being incredibly nutritious, cashews, due to their flavor and texture, are also very versatile, which means they can easily lend themselves to a variety of recipes -- even savory ones!
Want a simple yet tasty and filling breakfast? Add a good-sized dollop of some organic cashew butter to your oatmeal! In the mood for an incredibly flavorful lunch? Why not add cashews to your vegetable stir-fry? Going on a trip? Mix a handful each of cashews, dried fruits and some cacao nibs to make your own antioxidant-rich trail mix!
With that said, here are some recipes featuring cashews that you can try:
Ginger-Cashew Chicken Salad
A savory dish inspired by Asian cooking, this salad, adapted from a recipe by Taste of Home
, brings together the delicate, buttery taste of cashews and the wholesome goodness of organic salad greens and chicken.
- 1/2 cup organic apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup organic molasses OR maple syrup
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh, organic ginger root
- 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 24 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast halves, preferably organic and free-range
- 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 1 11-ounce can, organic mandarin oranges, drained
- 1 cup shredded organic red cabbage
- 2 medium organic carrots, shredded
- 3 organic green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cups whole-grain chow mein noodles, crumbled
- 2/4 cup salted organic cashews, toasted
- 2 tablespoons organic sesame seeds, toasted
- In a small bowl, whisk the first 7 ingredients until well-incorporated.
- Pour about a third of the marinade into a large shallow dish and add the chicken. Make sure to coat the meat well. Cover and refrigerate the chicken for at least 3 hours. Cover and refrigerate the remaining unused marinade.
- Once done marinating, drain the chicken and discard the marinade.
- Place chicken in a baking pan and cook in a preheated broiler for around 4 to 6 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 165°. Cut chicken into strips and then set aside.
- Place spinach on a serving platter. Arrange the chicken, oranges, cabbage, carrots and green onions on top of the spinach then sprinkle with crumbled chow mein noodles, cashews and sesame seeds.
- Drizzle the remaining marinade over the salad and then toss to coat.
- Serve immediately.
Cashew Chicken with Noodles
Looking for a quick and easy recipe
that’s tasty and nutritious? This Asian-inspired noodle dish is for you! Not only is it incredibly tasty, but it’s also loaded with nutrient-heavy chicken and cashews -- a win-win situation if you ask us.
- 8 ounces uncooked thick rice noodles
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 6 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup unsalted cashews
- 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Cook the rice noodles according to package directions.
- While waiting for the noodles to cook, combine the soy sauce, cornstarch and garlic in a small bowl, then add chicken. Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- In a large cast-iron or another heavy skillet, saute chicken mixture in peanut and sesame oils until fully cooked.
- Add onions to the cooked chicken and cook until the onions become translucent.
- Once cooked, drain noodles and stir into the skillet with the chicken and onions. Add the cashews and chili sauce and heat through.
- Top with toasted sesame seeds before serving.
Homemade Cashew Butter
You can't really go wrong with a classic -- just like this basic and simple take on a perennial favorite.
- 2 cups roasted unsalted organic cashews
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While waiting for the oven to come to temperature, spread the nuts out onto a rimmed baking sheet.
- Once the oven is heated to the correct temperature, place the baking sheet inside and roast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant and toasted. Once done, allow the nuts to cool for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Immediately add the nuts to the food processor while they’re warm and process for 4 minutes. The mixture will start out crumbly, but don’t worry -- this will soon take on a creamier texture.
- Add the kosher salt to taste. Process for an additional 2 to 3 minutes and add additional salt as necessary.
- Transfer the cashew butter to a jar. This will keep for about 3 months if stored in a refrigerator.
Cashews are nutritious -- not to mention delicious -- foods that are extremely beneficial to one’s health
, making them an important addition to any diet.