Cashews are one of the most highly prized nuts due to its creamy texture and delicate flavor. These qualities make cashews a great substitute for making cheese or cream sauces in plant-based cooking. Nutritionally, cashews are one of the highest magnesium plant sources, only being surpassed by sunflower seeds. They are lower in fat than most other nuts, 75% of the fat content being unsaturated fatty acids. Of the unsaturated fatty acid, 75% is oleic acid, a heart healthy fat that is also found in olive oil and promotes good cardiovascular health.

Disease/Ailment:

High blood pressure
Muscle tension
Migraine headaches
Soreness and fatigue
Cardiovascular health and disease prevention
Gallstone prevention
Bone disorders
Cancer prevention
Hair and skin disorders

Health benefits:

Cancer prevention: Cashews are packed with proanthocyanidins, a class of flavanols that actually deprive tumors and stops cancer growth. Their high copper content eliminates free radicals, and they are a good source of phytochemicals and antioxidants that protect from free radicals.

Skin and hair health: Cashews are rich in copper, which is an essential component of many enzymes of the body. One copper-containing enzyme, tyrosinase, converts tyrosin to melanin, which is the pigment that gives hair and skin their color.

Bone health: Cashews are in particularly high in magnesium, a necessary mineral for strong bones. Most of the magnesium in our bodies is in our bones and helps lend bones their physical structure. Copper, also found in cashews, is vital for the function of enzymes involved in combining collagen and elastin, which provides substance and flexibility in bones and joints.

Nerve relaxation: Magnesium regulates the body’s usage of calcium for nerve stimulation. By preventing calcium from rushing into nerve cells and activating them, magnesium keeps the nerves relaxed and thereby relaxes the blood vessels and muscles too. When there is not enough magnesium, an excess of calcium can cause over-contraction of nerves. This explains why cashew’s high magnesium content helps in treating high blood pressure, muscle tension, migraine headaches, soreness and fatigue.

Prevention of gallstones: Studies shows that women who eat at least an ounce of nuts each week have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones.

Good source of:

Magnesium, copper, manganese, trytophan, phosphorous

Purchasing, storing, & enjoying:

Purchasing: Cashews can be purchased raw, roasted, salted, or unsalted and can be found in prepackaged containers or bulk bins.
Storing: Due to their high oleic acid content, cashews are more stable than most other nuts but should still be stored in tightly sealed containers preferably in the refrigerator where they will keep for about 6 months, or in the freezer for about a year. Cashew butter should always be refrigerated.
Enjoying:

  • Combine cashews with other nuts or with dried fruit for a healthy snack.
  • Right before taking off the heat, add cashews to sautéed vegetables for an added crunch. They particularly work well in Asian inspired dishes.
  • Raw or toasted cashews can be blended in a food processor to create homemade cashew butter. Spread over toast or use as a replacement in recipes that call for peanut butter.
  • Raw cashews are great to create cream sauces and cheeses that are completely dairy-free! Soak them in water for a few hours and grind them using a good blender with other seasonings depending on the flavor you desire.

Resources & Recipes:

Many faces of cashew cream: http://food52.com/blog/5751-the-many-faces-of-cashew-cream
Vegan yogurt and cheese: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/cashews-vegan-yogurt-cheese-recipes.html
Cheeze sauce: http://www.godairyfree.org/recipes/cheese-subs/cashew-pimiento-qcheeseq-sauce-vegan-gluten-free-soy-free
Vegan cheesecake: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/raw-cashew-cheesecake-vegan-191235/

 

 

References:

Bes-Rastrollo M, Sabate J, Gomez-Gracia E, Alonso A, Martinez JA, Martinez-Gonzalez MA. Nut consumption and weight gain in a Mediterranean cohort: The SUN study. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Jan;15(1):107-16. 2007. PMID:17228038.

Blomhoff R, Carlsen MH, Andersen LF, Jacobs DR Jr. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S52-60. 2006. PMID:17125534.

Davis CD. Low dietary copper increases fecal free radical production, fecal water alkaline phosphatase activity and cytotoxicity in healthy men. J Nutr. 2003 Feb; 133(2):522-7. 2003.

Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California. 1983.

Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986. PMID:15210.

Hu FB, Stampfer MJ. Nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: a review of epidemiologic evidence. Curr Atheroscler Rep 1999 Nov;1(3):204-9. 1999.

Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. 1988. PMID:15220.

http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/7-health-benefits-of-cashews.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=98


About the Author

Ashley Kim

"Our bodies are our gardens—our wills are our gardeners." – William Shakespeare

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