Cashew- the creamy, crunchy, kidney shaped nut that is famous for its exotic delicately sweet taste and buttery flavour. Cashews have always been such an integral ingredient of our sweet and savoury dishes that most of us are oblivious of the fact that these kernels are native to Brazil. In present times, it is commercially cultivated in Brazil, Africa, Vietnam and in India.
It is surely not an exaggeration to consider these small cashew kernels to be nutritional powerhouse as they are packed with various essential vitamins (vitamins E, C, K, and B vitamins), minerals (copper, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron and selenium), fibre and antioxidants. All these constituents along with healthy unsaturated fats not only protect you from various deficiency diseases, but also play a vital role in maintaining good bodily functions. Some benefits of cashews are presented below:
- Benefits for Heart
Besides containing a lot of vitamins and nutrients, cashews also contain a lot of heart-friendly fats in the form of monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and palmitoleic acids. These essential fatty acids help in maintaining a healthy lipid profile by lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL) and raising the good cholesterol (HDL), and thus promote the overall health of your heart. Along with these monounsaturated fatty acids, these nuts also contain polyunsaturated fatty acids. This super combination helps you in avoiding weight gain. Presence of high amount of magnesium in cashews is good for lowering blood pressure and thus provides strong resistance to various cardiovascular diseases. There are also decent amount of antioxidants and Arginine in cashews. While Arginine is known for protecting the inner lining of the artery walls, powerful antioxidants like vitamin E, omega-3 and omga-6 faatty acids considerably reduce the risk of various heart and coronary diseases by fighting the free radical damage.
- Benefits for Eyes
There are two compounds in cashews; Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which act as antioxidants and protect our eyes against the harmful Ultra-Violet rays, age-related macular degeneration and damages from light. So eating cashews can be good for your eye health and can also protect your eyes against Cataract.
- Benefits for Skin
When you eat healthy foods, it shows on your face, and this is so true for cashews too. High concentration of copper in small kajus not only rejuvenates your skin, but gives you a radiant glow by influencing the production of Melanin. Antioxidants in cashews reduce wrinkles and fine lines by fighting free radical damage and ensuring proper utilization of iron in the body. Cashews are a rich source of Vitamin B3 (niacin), which protects your skin against Dermatitis/Pellagra. Studies have suggested that cashew nuts also prevent basal cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer).
- Benefits for Hair
Those of you, who are facing hair fall problems, can grab a handful of cashew nuts to boost their hair growth. Once again the copper content of cashews proves its worth by providing strength, lustre and natural pigmentation to your tresses.
- Benefits for Bones
Of course calcium is very necessary for stronger bones, but so is magnesium; as magnesium facilitates proper absorption of calcium in the body. Including cashews into your regular diet promote your overall bone health, as they are a rich source of magnesium. The high concentration of calcium and magnesium along with proteins in cashews strengthen your bone structure. High levels of copper improve the flexibility of joints by stimulating the enzyme that combines elastin and collagen. Lastly, cashews contain significant amount of Vitamin K which not only improves your protection against various bone-related diseases & skeletal deformations but also helps in maintaining bone health.
- Benefits on Nerves
Having magnesium rich food like cashews is beneficial for our nervous system. When the amount of calcium increases in our blood stream, it results in over-activated nerve cells and may cause excessive contraction of muscles, which may result in many health-related conditions like migraine, headache, hypertension, etc. By balancing the entry of calcium in the blood, magnesium keeps our nerves relaxed and protects our body from fatigue, soreness, and stress and muscle spasm.
- Benefits for Brain
Consumption of cashews improves the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain which in turn enhances your memory, offers strong resistance to various neurological disorders and promotes healthy functioning of brain. These nuts also have anti depressant qualities, because of high levels of copper that stimulates the production and secretion of dopamine and serotonin. Its monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids content promote the production of brain cells; and its magnesium content helps in proper functioning of the nervous system.
- During Pregnancy
Cashews are great to munch during pregnancy. It is one of the best options to deal with hunger pangs. Not only are they handy but they also raise your energy levels quiet instantaneously and make you feel fuller for longer duration. The healthy unsaturated fatty acids in cashews help in controlling hypertension and prevent excessive weight gain by maintaining balanced lipid profile. Additionally, the richness of essential minerals like magnesium and iron in cashews can avoid many unwanted health conditions such as anaemia, heart diseases, etc. High amounts of vitamin C in these creamy nuts improve your skin texture, reduce tissue damage and prevent the occurrence of stretch marks.
- For Diabetics
Cashews are good for diabetic patients as they restrict glucose absorption in the body. The unsaturated fatty acids of cashews help in reducing the triglyceride levels also. Studies also suggest that eating cashew nuts in optimum quantity on daily basis may cure type 2 diabetes upto certain levels.
- Aids In Digestion
Cashews are beneficial for our digestive system as well. With high amounts of proteins and healthy fats, they take time to digest, and thus help in controlling your appetite. They have many essential vitamins that facilitate the metabolism of protein, fats and carbohydrates at cellular level. These are also good source of antioxidants which avert free radical damage in the stomach lining. Further, the fibre content in cashews ensures easy bowel movements. Also, various researches have established that cashews are worthy antidotes to stomach damage and prevent various harmful chemical changes in the body caused by alcohol.
- Aids in Weight Loss
Nuts like cashews are healthy and delicious alternatives to satisfy your food cravings as compared to junk food which can move your weighing scale higher. The fibre in cashews makes you feel satiated in small proportions and keeps you fuller for longer duration. Also, presence of mono and poly unsaturated fatty acids aid in avoiding and reducing fat build up in our body and thus help us in managing healthy weight.
- Prevents Blood Diseases
Deficiency of copper in human body can lead to many blood diseases like anaemia. Cashews, which are a rich source of copper, can help in reducing the risk of such diseases. Moreover it also helps the body to combat free radical damage.
- Prevents Gallstone
Too much of animal fats, cholesterol, refined carbs and too little intake of fibre put you at the risk of having Gallstones. Research has proven that those who eat cashews regularly are less likely to develop gallstones.
- Prevents Cancer
Cancer can surface by excessive accumulation of free radicals in the body. Eating cashews can protect you against cancer, as they have high concentration of copper, a mineral that promotes elimination of free radicals from the body. Moreover, cashews also contain high amounts of proanthocyanidins; a type of flavanol that impede the growth of cancerous cells and starve tumour. Additionally, the presence of soluble dietary fibre and many health-promoting phytochemicals strengthen your body’s defence against this dreadful disease.
15. Men’s Health
Cashew nuts are not just useful, but they are magical indeed. They are one of the best friends for men. Cashew nuts contain certain minerals like zinc which helps to promote mortality of sperm, the antioxidants and Arginine helps to keep the nerves free from any sort of blockage thus reduces the root cause of erectile dysfunction & omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids help induce testosterone levels which are essential for long lasting performance in bed. The benefits are not just it, many studies have even proved that if eaten daily cashew nuts can also cure male infertility. Isn’t it magical? As I said.
Clearly, nature has bestowed these small kidney shaped nuts with high nutritional value. But as they say excess of everything is bad; so consume them in moderate amounts. People with high blood pressure must avoid their salted variant. Also, since nut allergies are common, you must pay attention and consult your physician if you notice any rashes, itching or breathing difficulty after eating cashews. Else you may enjoy them all year round. If stored properly in an airtight container, into the fridge; these nuts can have a shell life of almost 5-6 months.
You should also include them in your favourite recipes, ice creams, desserts or have a handful of them as a healthy snack in between your meals, but don’t forget to make these versatile nuts part of your routine diet to enhance your beauty and for their robust health benefits.
Happy Living !!!
A full time work from home mother, she utilises her spare time to contribute insightful articles around day to day lifestyle challenges and their remedies, that all can relate to. Trust Aafiya to provide apt advice on diet mechanism, nutritional facts and common home remedies.
Away from writing, Aafiya is statistics post graduate, has worked earlier in the field of Research & Education and loves travelling.
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