Cashew Nuts

The cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale) is a tropical evergreen tree that produces the cashew seed and the cashew apple. It can grow as high as 14 m (46 ft), but the dwarf cashew, growing up to 6 m (20 ft), has proved more profitable, with earlier maturity and higher yields.

The species is originally native to northeastern Brazil. Portuguese colonists in Brazil began exporting cashew nuts as early as the 1550s. Major production of cashews occurs in Vietnam, Nigeria, India, and Ivory Coast.

The cashew nut, often simply called a cashew, is widely consumed. It is eaten on its own, used in recipes, or processed into cashew cheese or cashew butter. The shell of the cashew seed yields derivatives that can be used in many applications including lubricants, waterproofing, paints, and arms production, starting in World War II. The cashew apple is a light reddish to yellow fruit, whose pulp can be processed into a sweet, astringent fruit drink or distilled into liquor.

Its English name derives from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree cajú (Portuguese pronunciation: [kaˈʒu]), which itself is derived from the Tupian word acajú, literally meaning “nut that produces itself”. The generic name “Anacardium” (derived from Greek ἀνά (aná), meaning “outside,” and καρδία (kardía), meaning “heart”, refers to the unusual location of the seed (the heart) outside of the fruit.

Culinary uses for cashew seeds in snacking and cooking are similar to those for all tree seeds called nuts.

Cashews are commonly used in Indian cuisine and Pakistani cuisine, whole for garnishing sweets or curries, or ground into a paste that forms a base of sauces for curries (e.g., korma), or some sweets (e.g., kaju barfi). It is also used in powdered form in the preparation of several Indian sweets and desserts. In Goan cuisine, both roasted and raw kernels are used whole for making curries and sweets. Cashews are also used in Thai and Chinese cuisines, generally in whole form. In the Philippines, cashew is a known product of Antipolo, and is eaten with suman. The province of Pampanga also has a sweet dessert called turrones de casuy, which is cashew marzipan wrapped in white wafers. In Indonesia, roasted and salted cashews are called kacang mete or kacang mede, while the cashew apple is called jambu monyet (translates in English to monkey rose apple).

In Mozambique, bolo polana is a cake prepared using powdered cashews and mashed potatoes as the main ingredients. This dessert is popular in South Africa.

In Brazil, the cashew fruit juice is popular. Brazilians value the fruit over the nut. In Panama, the cashew fruit is cooked with water and sugar for a prolonged time to make a sweet, brown, paste-like dessert called dulce de marañón, with marañón as a Spanish name for cashew.

In the 21st century, cashew cultivation increased in several African countries to meet the demands for manufacturing cashew milk, a plant milk alternative to dairy milk.

The shell of the cashew nut contains oil compounds which may cause contact dermatitis similar in severity to that of poison ivy, primarily resulting from the phenolic lipids, anacardic acid, and cardanol. Due to the possible dermatitis, cashews are typically not sold in the shell to consumers. Readily and inexpensively extracted from the waste shells, cardanol is under research for its potential applications in nanomaterials and biotechnology.

History

Cashew originated from Brazil, the South American tropics and cashew gradually dispersed to Africa, Asia, Australia. Today cashew has strewn in the boundary latitude 300 North and latitude 30.

Cashew can be grown in harsh and diverse climatic conditions. High heat-loving plant is sensitive to cold, tropical climate with a marked dry season is the perfect conditions to thrive tree.

According to FAO, nowadays, in the world, cashew is considered as a commercial product in 32 countries but there are only 10 tropical and subtropical countries where cashew trees grow well in the world today including: India, Vietnam , Brazil, Nigenia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Guinea Bissau, Cotolvore, Monzambique.

However,  cashews are grown in popularity in southern Viet Nam, which  is the most famous place in the world for the great reputation of the cashew. It has been grown as an official special crop and plays an significant role in the agricultural sector in some tropical and subtropical countries

16 Amazing Benefits

  1. Keep Our Cardiovascular System Healthy

Eating cashew nuts is very beneficial for our heart and keep our cardiovascular system healthy because of the presence of a good number of healthy dietary fats in it. These fats are essential for our body as they help in the proper absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K. Other than this, the inclusion of other fats like monounsaturated fats(MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) also make cashew nuts beneficial for our heart.

Moderate consumption of cashew nuts helps in controlling cholesterol level as they reduce bad cholesterol level ( LDL cholesterol) and increase good cholesterol level (HDL cholesterol ). The presence of high level of LDL cholesterol can be a threat to our cardiovascular system and give rise to heart problems like heart attack, stroke, hardening of arteries (atherosclerosis ), etc.

The best way to minimize the risk of these cardiovascular problems is to reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol level. Studies have demonstrated that cashew nuts and other foods that are rich in unsaturated fats are very useful for this as they enhance the level of HDL cholesterol, reduces triglyceride levels and also helps in regulating blood pressure. High blood pressure is also a major cause of the cardiovascular problem but eating cashew nuts also helps in controlling blood pressure level under control and thus helps in keeping cardiovascular system healthy.

  1. Reduces High Blood Pressure

Moderate consumption of cashew nuts is very beneficial for regulating high blood pressure level because of the presence of magnesium in it.High blood pressure or hypertension  can be a threat to our cardiovascular system and give rise to various heart problems like heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis, etc. and it can even be a threat to our life.

As per a report published by World Heart Foundation, hypertension is an important cause of premature death and going by the current growth rate; there will be around 1.58 billion adults suffering from hypertension in the year 2025 AD. Hypertension is considered as a silent killer as often there are no warnings or symptoms and people suffering from hypertension are more likely to develop diabetes ( which is an another health problem that takes the life of millions every year as there is no proper cure till date ).

Because of such high health risks associated with high blood pressure or hypertension, it is better to keep our blood pressure level under control, and cashew nuts are very useful in doing the same.

  1. Keep Our Nervous System And Muscles Healthy

Regular and moderate consumption of cashew nuts is very effective for making our nervous system healthy and for keeping our muscles strong because of the good amount of magnesium present in it. Magnesium is a vital compound that plays a very important role in the healthy development of bones, muscles, tissues and organs of the body.

It also helps in regulating blood pressure level, reduces the risk of the various cardiovascular problems, maintains nerve function, boost immunity and strengthens our bones. Magnesium is also involved in the metabolic functions of our body as they influence the insulin activity and regulates blood sugar.

Deficiency of magnesium can interfere with the calcium metabolism and hormones responsible for its regulation. Because of this reason, it is very important to have a recommended dosage of magnesium in our diet. ( RDA for magnesium is 350 mg for adult males and 300 milligrams for adult females. As per many experts, recommended consumption of magnesium depends on age, weight, and gender and for rough estimation can be taken as 6 milligrams of magnesium per kg of body weight ).

  1. Good For People who have Diabetes

Eating cashew nuts is very beneficial for the diabetic patients because of the low amount of sugar present in it. The glycemic index of cashew nuts is 25 which means cashew nuts is considered as a low glycemic index food and releases sugar into our blood stream at a slow pace.  High level of magnesium in cashew nuts also plays an important role in benefitting diabetic patients by regulating blood sugar level of our body.

Cashew nuts also help in lowering the risk of type-2 diabetes. As per some studies, diabetes tends to increase the bad cholesterol level of our body and decrease good cholesterol level and increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. This condition is known as diabetic dyslipidemia. However, cashew nuts are very effective in controlling this, and it makes sure that bad cholesterol level decreases and good cholesterol level increase.

  1. Prevents Development Of Several Types Of Cancer

Regular and moderate consumption of cashew nuts is very beneficial for reducing the risk of development of various types of cancer because of the compounds like antioxidants, flavonoids, etc. present in them. These antioxidants fights with the free radicals of our body stabilizes the unstabilized ions and thus prevents them from doing damage to our body cells and reduces the risk of cancer.  They are very effective in fighting against the tumor cells and stops them from dividing further. Other than this, the presence of copper in cashew nuts also plays an important role in fighting against cancerous cells and keep various types of cancer at bay.

As per a research, the presence of antioxidants like acardiac acids, Cardinals, and carols in cashews make them very beneficial for people undergoing chemotherapy, but some experts disagree with this, and as per them, the presence of too much fungus on cashew nuts make them unsuitable to be consumed during chemotherapy stage. So, it is better to consult with your doctor about the same ( if you are already battling with cancer or tumor ) but in general, they are very effective in reducing the risk of several types of cancer.

  1. Maintains Cellular Health

Consuming cashew nuts are an excellent source of copper which is a vital nutrient that plays a very important role in keeping us healthy. It helps in the metabolism of iron, helps in the formation of red blood cells, keep our bones and immune system stronger and healthier, and is also vital for proper functioning of our nervous system and skeletal system of our body. Lack of copper in our body can be very dangerous and may give rise to several health complications like osteoporosis, irregular heartbeats, and anemia. Cashew nuts are very effective in preventing us from all these dangers of copper deficiency.

  1. Maintains Oral Health And Keep Our Bones Stronger

Consuming cashew nuts is very beneficial for the healthy development of bones and teeth because of the phosphorus present in it. Phosphorus is an important compound that plays an important role in keeping our bones healthy, aids in the synthesis of protein, proper absorption of fats and carbohydrates, and maintains overall cellular health. Phosphorus is also effective in keeping our kidneys healthy, improves brain function and maintains hormonal balance (source).

  1. Reduces The Risk Of Anemia

Regular and moderate consumption of cashew nuts is very reducing the risk of anemia, because of the high level of the dietary iron present in cashew nuts. Iron is a vital nutrient that plays an important role in improving the oxygen carrying capacity of our red blood cells and ensures that oxygenated blood reaches every single cell of our body. It also helps in the functioning of enzymes and makes our immune system stronger. Deficiency of iron can give rise to many health problems like body fatigue, anemia and increased risk of getting ill and suffering from infections.

  1. Reduces The Risk Of Gallstones Formation

Eating cashew nuts on a regular basis and in a moderate quantity is very effective in reducing the risk of formation of gallstones in our body. Gallstones are stone-like deposits that mainly consists of cholesterol and these cholesterol stones get accumulated in the gall bladder and are known as gallstones. A gallstone may cause severe abdominal pain and other complications by interfering with the function of liver and kidneys (depending upon the size and position of gallstones (source).  Cashew nuts are very effective in regulating the cholesterol level by decreasing bad cholesterol level and increases good cholesterol level, and in this way, they help in lowering the risk of formation of gallstones.

  1. Make Our Immune System Stronger

Consuming cashew nuts on a regular basis ( but in moderation ) is very effective in making our immune system stronger because of the presence of antioxidants and zinc in it. Antioxidants fights with the unstabilized ions of our body stabilize them and prevent them from damaging our body cells (including the immune system cells), and the zinc plays a vital role in making our system stronger against the microbial infections, helps in protein synthesis and quick healing of wounds.

The immune system of our body plays a very important role in keeping us healthy as it fights with the foreign pathogens that try to invade our body and harm us by spreading diseases. The stronger immune system is more capable of preventing us from falling ill, and even if we get ill, it ensures quick healing.

In addition to this, zinc is extremely important for the proper growth and development of the baby during the pregnancy stage and in childhood years.

  1. Is Effective For Losing Weight

Cashew nuts are high in calories, and a single serving of 100 grams of cashew nuts can provide as much as 553 calories of energy, 44 grams of fat and 30 grams of carbohydrates (source). However, even after all these values, regular and moderate consumption of cashew nuts is effective in losing weight because of the good cholesterol present in it.Cashew nuts help in reducing the buildup of fat and cholesterol in our heart and helps in managing weight.

As per a  research conducted by Harvard University, those who eat two servings of nuts a day are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. The study suggests that one should replace animal fats and proteins with the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats ( cashew nuts is rich in this ) for efficient weight management.

Although cashew nuts are effective in weight loss, it is important to eat them in moderation as they are also high in calories and eating them too much may lead to weight gain.

  1. Keep Our Eyes Healthy

Our eyes are windows to the world as they allow us to enjoy the beauty of this wonderful planet. It is, therefore, important for us to take good care of our eyes. Cashew nuts are very effective in keeping our eyes healthy and preventing our eyesight from damage caused by the harmful radiation of sun rays, and even decrease the occurrence of cataracts. This benefit of cashew nuts is mainly because of the high level of antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin present in it.

  1. Reduces The Risk Of Macular Degeneration

Eating cashew nuts is good for our eyes not just because they keep our eyes healthy and improves eyesight but also because they protect our eyes from the harmful radiation of the sun and reduces the risk of macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is caused by the reorientation of the central portion of the retina (also known as macula) and can lead to blurred vision and even blindness. (source).

  1. Provides Relief From Depression

These days we are living a very fast paced life and stress have penetrated in our life so much so that now it feels like a part of our life.This is not at all healthy as stress/depression can give rise to many health complications like asthma, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems etc. ( source )and it is, therefore, important for us to keep stress and depression away from our life, and cashew nuts are very effective in helping us doing the same.

It has been claimed that when it comes to providing relief from depression then eating a couple of handfuls of cashew nuts provide as much benefit as provided by the antidepressant prescription. This antidepressant benefit of cashew nuts is mainly because of the L-tryptophan amino acid present in cashews. This amino acid breaks down into niacin and serotonin, and the compounds calm anxiety and promote a sense of wellbeing.

  1. Is A Good Source Of Vitamin K

Cashew nuts are a good source of vitamin K which is an essential vitamin that provides a lot of benefits like help in the formation of blood clots and minimizes blood loss at the time of injury, make our bones stronger and decreases the risk of bone fractures, reduces the risk of cancer, is good for our brain and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive diseases.

  1. Helps In Conversion Of Energy

As mentioned earlier, cashew nuts are an excellent source of energy because of the high amount of calories present in them. One can get around 553 calories of energy from 100 grams of cashew nuts and this makes cashew nuts very beneficial for the energy formation in our body.

In addition to this, the presence of thiamine in cashews also plays an important role in creating energy in our body. Thiamine is a vital nutrient that converts sugar into energy and lack of this compound can lead to the health problems that ranges from muscle pain to memory loss.

These were some of the major health benefits of cashew nuts. Although cashews are loaded with number of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc. and provides a lot of health benefits, but still there are some side effects of cashew nuts that may arise when it is consumed in excess. For this reason, it is advisable to eat cashews in moderation.