Cashew Nut Benefits

Cashew Nut
Latin Name

Anacardium occidentale

Also Known As

Cajú

Origin

South America

Parts Used

Seed, Nut

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Native to the tropical regions of Brazil, the Cashew tree is a tropical evergreen tree, growing to around 14 metres, that produces the Cashew seed (known as the nut), and the Cashew apple. It is related to mango, pistachio and poison ivy.

Used for centuries by the indigenous tribes of the rainforest, the Tikuna tribe of northwest Amazonia consumes Cashew fruit juice as a remedy against influenza. They also brew a tea of the leaves and bark of the Cashew tree to treat diarrhoea.

In Brazilian herbal medicine a leaf tea is prepared as a mouthwash and gargle for mouth ulcers, tonsillitis, and throat problems. This tea is also used for washing wounds.

Cashew Nut Benefits

Heart Health

Considered the world’s healthiest nut, Cashews (alongside other nuts) have been repeatedly shown to lower the risks associated with the development of heart disease and other dangerous heart conditions.

A study published in the medical journal “Nutrients” found that nut consumption – in particular Cashew nuts – had a beneficial effect on inflammation, oxidative stress levels and vascular/arterial activity that promotes a healthy heart.

The anti-inflammatory effects of Cashew, plus its ability to lower blood triglyceride levels and strong antioxidant potential, work together to protect against heart attacks, heart disease and strokes.

Brain Boosting

Cashew nuts are chock full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals which support cognitive function. Apart from water, the brain is predominantly made of fat and relies on a steady supply of fatty acids obtained from the diet. Dietary deficiency of healthy MUFA and PUFA fatty acids has frequently been associated with an increased risk of several mental disorders, including ADHD, anxiety, depression, dyslexia and dementia.

These delicious, buttery nuts are rich in palmitic, linoleic, oleic and stearic essential fatty acids and antioxidants. The FASEB Journal published a study in 2017 that looked at the flavonoid antioxidants in different types of nuts and their relationship to brain health. They tested aspects such as recall, memory, empathy, and meditation, using a type of brain-wave imaging called "Power Spectral Density". The researchers connected three types of tree nuts in particular to brain health – Pecans, Walnuts and Cashews.

Brain cells demand high amounts of B vitamins, and Cashews are also rich in vitamins B1 and B6. Vitamin B1 is known to promote memory and concentration, whilst B6 is needed for mood regulation, preventing mental fatigue and helping the body make feel good hormones, including serotonin and norepinephrine that relax and lift the spirits.

Prevent Gallstones

Gallstones are hard masses typically found in the gallbladder or the bile duct which can be caused from cholesterol in the bile that is not broken down properly due to its fatty nature. Studies have shown that eating nuts such as Cashews are helpful in preventing gallstones, especially in women.

Skin and Hair Health

Cashews are extremely rich in copper, a vital element of the dark pigment melanin which imparts colouration to the hair and skin. Sufficient intake of copper is believed to protect hair from greying.

Copper also plays a significant role in the synthesis of haemoglobin, myelin and collagen. Collagen is a major component of the skin, playing an important role in strengthening skin and benefiting elasticity and hydration.

Typical Use

Organic Cashew Nuts

Eat whole as a nutritious snack. They can also broken up and baked into cakes and superfood flapjacks or used in cooking. 

Cashew nuts are so rich and creamy they are popularly used to make delicious vegan cheese.

Folklore and History

All aspects of the Cashew tree have been used for its nutritional and medicinal properties in its native South America for millennia. The word Cashew comes from the Tupi Indian word Acaju, which means “nut”.

Interestingly, the natives learned to eat Cashews from the local capuchin monkeys who used primitive tools to break the shells off to get to the nuts.

The Wayapi tribe in Guyana uses a bark tea as a remedy for diarrhoea and colic in infants. Tribes in Suriname use the toxic seed oil as an external worm medicine to kill botfly larvae under the skin.

The Cashew went on to be discovered by Europeans in Brazil around 1558. Because of their irritating shells, they were thought to be inedible at first. It was the Tupi Indians who showed the Europeans how to roast the cashews to rid them of the irritants. Cashew apple pulp was also used to make wine.

Cashew Nut
Constituents

Vitamin E, B1, B6, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, manganese, protein, dietary fibre. Palmitic, linoleic, oleic and stearic essential fatty acids.

Precautions

Do not consume if you have a nut allergy.

Not recommended if you have kidney stones.