Written by Dan Jackowiak NC, HHP
The word cashews comes from the “Tupi-Indian word Acaju,” and it means “nut.” The seed of Cashew is surrounded by a double shell that contains an allergenic phenolic resin, and this resin contains an anacardic acid. It is reported that some individuals are allergic to cashew nuts due to the outer coating on the skin of this nut (1)
Cashews were discovered in Brazil by Europeans in the year of 1558. At first, due to their irritating shells, they were considered to be inedible. However, with time, it was realized that it was the fruit skin that was the irritant and not the seeds. The Portuguese brought cashews to Goa in about 1560, and the Portuguese people were given instructions to roast the Cashew in order to get their irritant off. In India, the cashew is popular due to their healing properties.
In the 2nd half of the sixteenth century, cashews spread to Africa and Southeast Asia. Nowadays, cashew seeds are the source of commerce for many countries and are considered a staple food in different world regions.
In 1905, the Cashew reached the United States. However, until the mid-1920s, these nuts were not popular when the “General Food Corporation” initiated a step to ship these nuts regularly to Europe and the United States. Afterward, Cashew became famous by the end of 1941, and approximately 20,000 tons of cashews were then shipped annually to the US and Europe from India (1).
Studies show that cashews are a rich source of many nutrients. For example, 1 ounce or 28g of unroasted and unsalted cashews contains 157 calories, 5g proteins, 12g unsaturated fat, 9g carbs, and 1g fiber.
In addition, cashews also contain vitamins and minerals. For example, vitamin K, B1, and B6 are present in a sufficient amount in cashews.
Moreover, copper, manganese, magnesium, zinc, selenium, iron, and phosphorus are also present in cashews. These nutrients are essential for brain function, heart health, bone health, energy production, and boost immunity (2).
Cashews are an excellent source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are effective compounds that fight against free radicals and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Cashews contain carotenoids and polyphenols, and these two belong to the class of antioxidants.
Some studies show that roasted cashews exhibit more antioxidant activity as compared to raw cashews (3).
Cashews are effective in preventing stroke and heart disease. In addition, studies reported that those people who consume cashews have a lower risk of developing heart disease and have a higher ratio of HDL cholesterol to LDL cholesterol.
It is also indicated that those who eat a diet rich in cashews have lower blood pressure and higher HDL cholesterol levels (4).
Another potential benefit of cashews is to help in weight management. Studies show that nut-rich diets are much more effective in weight loss as compared to nut-free diets. But, again, it is because cashews provide fewer calories which helps with weight loss (5).
Cashews provide the feeling of fullness and contribute to thermogenesis, and this helps boost the metabolism and ultimately weight management. Moreover, recent studies suggest that the human body can only absorb around 84% of these calories. Therefore, the fat remains trapped within Cashew’s fibrous wall rather than being absorbed during the digestion process. Furthermore, cashews are rich in fiber and protein content, and this reduces hunger, promotes the full feeling, and ultimately helps in weight loss (6).
Cashews are helpful in the management of type-2 diabetes. It is because cashews contain fiber, and this prevents blood sugar spikes and protects against type-2 diabetes.
In one study, it is reported that people who consume cashews have lower insulin levels. However, the substitution of foods higher in net carbohydrates and sugar with certain fiber also helps to reduce blood sugar levels (7).
According to a study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” it is indicated that nut consumption, including cashews, is linked with a reduced risk of developing gall bladder stones. In addition, people who consume more than five ounces of nuts a week showed a lower risk of cholecystectomy than those who consume one ounce of nuts each week (8).
Cashews are a good source of copper; 1 ounce of cashews consists of 622 micrograms of copper. Deficiency of copper leads to lower bone density and causes osteoporosis. However, studies reported that the consumption of cashews can fulfill the lack of copper and improve bone health (9).
In addition, copper plays a crucial role in the maintenance of elastin and collagen. Without enough copper, the human body cannot replace damaged connective tissues that make up the scaffolding of bone. This ultimately leads to joint dysfunction. Thus, cashew intake is good for bone density (10).
Furthermore, magnesium is also present in cashews, and this also helps in bone formation. Therefore, along with magnesium and copper, manganese also helps in the prevention of osteoporosis (10).
Cashews are considered safe to eat in most people’s diets. But roasted or salted cashews consist of a high amount of added oil and salt; that’s why it is best to choose raw or unsalted cashews. Otherwise, the addition of transfats may increase the risk of heart problems and inflammation.
In addition, cashews consist of phytates, and these compounds make them difficult to absorb the minerals and vitamins they contain. Hence, it is good to soak your nuts overnight before addition into any dishes, and it will help reduce the phytate content and improve the digestibility of cashews (11).
Moreover, cashews are categorized into tree nuts. Hence, individuals allergic to tree nuts such as pecans, almonds, pistachios, walnuts should also avoid cashews; otherwise, they could have an allergic reaction. Cashews also contain the compound urushiol. Urushiol is a toxic compound, and it can cause skin reactions in some individuals.
following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1
ounce (28g) of raw, unsalted cashews.
That 1 ounce serving is about 18 nuts. The glycemic load of those 18 nuts is 3, which is low and will not cause a blood sugar spike. So as far as the Candida diet goes, consuming fresh cashews in moderation would probably be ok.
However, you must be careful because cashews can become moldy very quickly. The typical storage life, like on top of your refrigerator or in a cabinet is only 3 months. If refrigerated you will be able to stretch that out to 6 months and freezing will extend their life to a year.
Bottom line, because of the possible mold issue I would tend to avoid cashews.
1. Archak, S., Gaikwad, A.B., Swamy, K.R.M. and Karihaloo, J.L., 2009. Genetic analysis and historical perspective of cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.) introduction into India. Genome, 52(3), pp.222-230. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00606-019-01611-4
2. Griffin, L.E. and Dean, L.L., 2017. Nutrient composition of raw, dry-roasted, and skin-on cashew nuts. Journal of Food Research, 6(6), pp.13-28.
3. De Souza, R.G.M., Schincaglia, R.M., Pimentel, G.D. and Mota, J.F., 2017. Nuts and human health outcomes: A systematic review. Nutrients, 9(12), p.1311.
4. Guasch-Ferré, M., Liu, X., Malik, V.S., Sun, Q., Willett, W.C., Manson, J.E., Rexrode, K.M., Li, Y., Hu, F.B. and Bhupathiraju, S.N., 2017. Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 70(20), pp.2519-2532.
5. Jackson, C.L. and Hu, F.B., 2014. Long-term associations of nut consumption with body weight and obesity. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 100(suppl_1), pp.408S-411S.
6. Mattes, R.D. and Dreher, M.L., 2010. Nuts and healthy body weight maintenance mechanisms. Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition, 19(1), p.137.
7. McRae, M.P., 2018. Dietary fiber intake and type 2 diabetes mellitus: an umbrella review of meta-analyses. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 17(1), pp.44-53.
8. Tsai, C.J., Leitzmann, M.F., Hu, F.B., Willett, W.C. and Giovannucci, E.L., 2004. Frequent nut consumption and decreased risk of cholecystectomy in women. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 80(1), pp.76-81.
9. Linus Pauling Institute » Micronutrient Information Center
10. Saltman, P.D. and Strause, L.G., 1993. The role of trace minerals in osteoporosis. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 12(4), pp.384-389.
11. Gupta, R.K., Gangoliya, S.S. and Singh, N.K., 2015. Reduction of phytic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains. Journal of food science and technology, 52(2), pp.676-684.
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