Cashew nuts come from a tropical evergreen tree and find its origin in vibrant Brazil. Today it is widely grown in many tropical regions of India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Nigeria amongst others.
India and Nigeria keep claiming the top producers’ hat year after year. Cashew tree produces a sweet and very fragrant Cashew apple under which the nut grows. Unlike other fruits with seeds, cashew grows outside the fruit. It has a hard shell inside that the actual nut resides.
Cashew tree has two varieties- the dwarf and the full length. Dwarf grows only about 6 meters as compared to the other type that can touch up to 14 meters in height.
However, the dwarf variety is more popular amongst the commercial producers of cashew owing to its early maturity and better produce. Cashew has a very subtle nutty flavor that gets enhanced on roasting.
This nuts are used as garnishes in many savory and dessert dishes. The unusually high quantity of starch and it is used for making soups and gravies thick. Apart from culinary uses, it is used as an alternative medicine in many cultures. Its health meter is impressive and in some regions the cashew apple is almost as famous as the nut for consumption.
The Cashew nut is made of fat that constitutes about 66% of this nut’s nutritional value which is about 67% of your daily requirement. But before you cringe about the fat, let us tell you that it contains 80% of unsaturated fats that are considered suitable for you and your cholesterol levels.
This healthy and tasty nut has a very healthy combination of vitamins and minerals, not to forget its high energy quotient.
It fulfills about 43% of our daily requirement of Vitamin K apart from 28% that of Vitamin B1. Vitamin B6 is also plentiful making up for 21% of our every day’s requirement.
The mineral composition and content is far more impressive with Iron 37%, Magnesium 73%, Phosphorus 59%, Zinc 39%, Copper 110% and Manganese content completing 83% of our body’s daily dosage.
With such an impressive balanced portfolio, it hardly comes as a surprise that is an excellent addition to our diet, and it can protect us from various deficiencies and disorders.
Cashew nuts are widely available and can be had right out of the packet as a snack, so there is no reason you should not carry them around for a quick energy boost.
1. Lowers Blood Pressure & Cholesterol
If you suffer from fluctuating blood pressure, then Cashew nuts are a safe bet provided you consume the unsalted ones. In their natural raw form Cashews contain hardly any sodium but snacking on salted ones can spike up your blood pressure levels.
Cashews have two properties that help in regulating blood pressure in their way.
First is the high magnesium content that regulates the muscle function of our body.
Our heart is made of muscles that contract and expand to let the blood in and out. This expansion and contraction create what we all know as “heart beat.” Optimum balance of Magnesium keeps your heart beating heartily!
The unsaturated fats in the body bring the levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) down. LDLs are the harmful fatty acids that are known to build up plaque along the inner side of arteries.
In severe cases, prolonged deposition of plaque makes the arteries rigid and can obstruct the blood supply leading to serious conditions like heart attack and other cardiovascular complications.
These two qualities along with Cashews’ high energy property makes it an ideal snack for those who are on a weight control regime.
Wrap up: High levels of Magnesium and over 80% of unsaturated fats maintain optimum blood pressure and control the ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body.
2. Antioxidants Life Saviour
Cashew nuts are an abundant source of antioxidants called Alkyl Phenols. They clean the body and get it rid of the impurities like free radicals. Free radicals are produced as a result of oxygen’s reaction with certain types of molecules.
These free radicals can accelerate the process of aging and in more severe cases lead to cancerous and tumor growths.
But apart from these critical health problems, they also damage hair and skin that might look to you just like natural aging effects.
Alkylphenols flush these toxins out of the body making you stronger as your immunity works better, and your overall health improves.
The fats in the cashew nuts are also of paramount importance for your skin and hair. It lends a degree of elasticity to the skin that reduces dryness and diminishes the appearance of wrinkles and lines on the skin.
It gives a supple look to your skin and shine to your hair controlling hair loss and hair breakage.
Iron in the Cashew nut adds to the improvement in the hair growth and arrests premature graying.
Wrap up: The Alkyl Phenol, fats and iron content in Cashew nut cleanses your body of free radicals and protect from cancer, hair loss and premature ageing.
3. Healthy bones
As mentioned earlier that 100 grams of Cashew nuts contain about 73% of our daily requirement of Magnesium. It plays a significant role in numerous biochemical reactions in our body. But one function that contributes to healthy bones is its ability to convert Vitamin D to its active form.
We all know that Vitamin D is essential for bone health. A deficiency of magnesium can lead to a disorder called Vitamin D resistance which can result in weak bones and frequent fractures.
About 60% of magnesium is held in our bones and is transferred via the blood stream to our body as and when required. It is why it is so critical for strengthening our bones.
A condition that softens the bones called osteoporosis is conclusively associated with deficiency of magnesium, especially in women.
Vitamin K in Cashew nuts enhances the bone health by aiding the process of calcification which bonds the bone cells.
Wrap up: The magnesium and Vitamin K in Cashew nut ensures firm and healthy bone density and health. It also facilitates absorption of Vitamin D in our body.
4. For Nerves
Again owing to healthy amount of Magnesium in them, Cashew nuts do a great job of maintaining and improving your nerve function. They help the nerves in relaxing and eliminate the constrictions if any.
Magnesium regulates and controls the amount of calcium that dissolves in the blood stream.
High Calcium levels in the blood can create obstructions and other related severe nerve conditions. At times for pain that is induced by bundled up nerves or some associated nerve dysfunction, magnesium supplements are given to relax them.
Instead of these supplements, you can always snack on the healthy cashew nuts and relieve yourself from the excruciating pain.
Wrap up: Magnesium works towards bettering nerve function and its receptivity by relaxing them and controlling the excess discharge of calcium in the blood stream.
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5. For Digestion
A high amount of dietary fiber makes cashew an ideal nut for aiding digestion. But dietary fiber is not the only property that makes cashew nut good for your digestion.
A typical serving of cashew nut remains in your stomach for about 2-6 hours which is a much higher duration as compared to other food items. Sitting in there, they repair your stomach lining and protects it from unfavorable effects and damages from other consumptions like alcohol and acid based food items.
Many studies have concluded that Cashew nuts are effective in protecting your stomach lining reducing incidences of upset stomach and ulcers.
Coming to their high fiber content which adds bulk and softens your stools; it makes easy for the stools to pass through the anal passageway.
Fiber reduces constipation and cleanses your gastrointestinal tract regularly. It ensures healthy anal tract and avoidance of condition like piles and colon cancer.
Though digestion related problems do not cause colon cancer, conditions like constipation can worsen it.
Wrap up: High fiber content of Cashew nut protects from constipation, piles and aids in treatment of colon cancer. It also protects the stomach lining from acid, protects from ulcers and induces smooth digestion.
6. Vitamin K for Dental health
In the previous section, we have mentioned how Cashew nuts are super healthy for your bone health. Well, the same logic applies to healthy dental condition and strong teeth also.
Our body needs proteins to utilize the calcium and storing it in the bones. To activate this particular protein, Vitamin K is needed.
Recent studies have shown that Vitamin K regulates and ensures right distribution of Calcium on your bones.
Without it, this calcium can create build-ups in Kidneys, blood vessels and other organs that can lead to organ failure. The controlled release of calcium also reduces the chances of excessive calcification which can make the bones brittle.
Wrap up: Vitamin K in Cashew nut leads to stronger teeth as it regulates absorption and distribution of Calcium in the body.
Other than making your bones and teeth stronger, Vitamin K in Cashew nuts plays an important role in blood coagulation.
Our body has a mechanism which gradually reduces and stops bleeding from wounds. Vitamin K is responsible for kick-starting the process of clotting when there is bleeding. It heals the skin and removes the marks of the wound as well.
Vitamin K not only repairs the actual wound but also the associated swelling and tissues. In some conditions, patients might be administered with blood thinning drugs. Vitamin K is also it is used to reverse the effect of these drugs.
Wrap up: Vitamin K plays the vital role of coagulating the blood thereby healing the wounds and also nullifying the effects of blood thinning drugs.
8. ZeaXanthin for eyes
ZeaXanthin is an antioxidant that is found in ample in Cashew nuts. This compound is found in high concentration in the eye and its lens.
So, it goes without saying that consumption of food rich in this antioxidant can help in treating eye lens related illnesses and improve the vision.
A study has shown that people who consume ZeaXanthin rich food are fifty percent less likely to develop cataract compared to those who do not. This compound improves vision and is especially helpful in enhancing vision in dim light surroundings.
The degenerative diseases of eyes can be effectively slowed and arrested with this anti-oxidant.
Wrap up: Cashew nut is considered great for your vision and fights the degenerative diseases of the eyes owing to content of ZeaXanthin which is an anti-oxidant.
9. Prevents Gall stones
As mentioned earlier, the magnesium in Cashew nuts distributes calcium and reduces the chances of excess calcification of bones.
Additionally, it also controls and lessens the discharge of calcium in the blood stream. It prevents the occurrence of Gall bladder stones. Gall bladder stones are a direct result of purifying and cleaning the blood which has a high amount of impurities like calcium and cholesterol in the blood.
Over a period, the blood dumps all calcium in the bladder, and they bond with each other to form stones entirely made of calcium and aided by cholesterol.
These stones can stunt the kidney and bladder function to a large extent. Cashew nuts can regulate the calcium as well as Cholesterol content and prevent the bladder from developing these stones.
Wrap up: High magnesium content protects from gall bladder stones by ensuring that excess calcium is not released in the blood stream.
Other Important Facts
The Cashew nuts come from the family related to poison ivy, and the irritant oil is in the hard shell. If you try to extract the cashew from the shell without correctly following the right process, this oil can end up hurting your skin.
Apart from the itchiness and burning that you are likely to feel there is a big chance that you would have spoilt the nut also with the oil and rendered it inedible.
Do not ever store Cashews in loose containers; the high fat content spoils them almost in a week in a humid climate. The best way is to store them either in the freezer or an airtight container.
Cashew nut is god’s gift for Vegan people and is used as a substitute for milk products, cream and cheese. This super healthy nut completes the vegan diet in a lot of ways with its highly beneficial nutritional composition.
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