Top 5 Health Benefits Of Eating Cashews Backed By Research
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Cashews hail from the cashew tree, a tropical tree indigenous to Brazil but now cultivated globally in tropical climates. Today, much of the commercially cultivated cashews come from India and East Africa. Despite being commonly referred to as a tree nut, cashews are actually seeds. Cashews are kidney-shaped and light tan in color; they have a nutty taste akin to that of peanuts or almonds although the texture is softer and smoother. In addition to eating cashews whole, some popular ways to consume these tasty nuts include cashew butter (similar to peanut butter), cashew milk, and stir-fried or curried cashews. Cashews and other tree nuts are touted as nutrient-rich because they’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and other healthy compounds. Check out some of the powerful health benefits eating cashews may provide you.
Important Note: All of the health benefits noted below are reflective of the most current research at the time of this publication.
Packed With Nutrients
Cashews are a nutrient-dense food packed with protein and fiber, containing 5 grams and 1 gram per serving of each. Significantly, a serving of cashews contains as much protein as a serving of meat in some cases. Cashews are an especially rich source of copper, meeting 67% of the daily recommended value of this mineral. Notably, copper is essential to brain health, energy production, and a healthy immune system. Cashews are an incredible source of unsaturated or healthy fats that are especially integral to heart health. Cashews are also a respectable source of magnesium, manganese, and zinc as well as phosphorus, iron, and selenium. Lastly, cashews also contain high concentrations of thiamine, vitamin K, and vitamin B6.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals, cashews are a health-conscious food providing many significant benefits.
Rich in Antioxidants
Cashews are also fraught with antioxidative plant compounds that reduce oxidative stress and fight harmful free radicals that could lead to chronic illnesses. Essentially, the antioxidative compounds in cashews reduce inflammation and help maintain optimal health. Specifically, cashews contain antioxidants called polyphenols and carotenoids. Although there’s not much research on the effects of these antioxidants in cashews, studies on other nuts containing the same properties conclude that they protect against coronary heart disease, diabetes, and some cancer types. With an antioxidant profile akin to those of walnuts, almonds, and pecans, it’s reasonable to conclude that the antioxidants in cashews will provide the same benefits.
General Consensus: 2.5/5 and here is why. Like other nuts, cashews are rich in polyphenols and carotenoids, however, there aren’t many studies on the antioxidative benefits of cashews specifically; more research is indicated.
Supportive of Weight Loss and Management
Nuts have long been a top diet choice in weight loss and management. That’s because, although they’re high in calories, about 157 calories per serving, they’re rich in healthy, unsaturated fats, high in protein, and high in fiber. Despite being high in fat and calories, scientific studies suggest that a nut-rich diet is more indicative of weight loss than a nutless diet. Moreover, another interesting study suggests that one of the reasons for this may have to do with the fact that your body only absorbs about 84% of the calories while the other 16% remains trapped in the fibrous cells of the cashew. Furthermore, cashews are high in protein; protein causes long-lasting fullness which may prevent you from consuming unnecessary calories between meals. Lastly, cashews are a good source of fiber which is useful in weight loss strategies; fiber helps to slow down digestion which will leave you feeling fuller longer thereby snacking less frequently.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Cashews’ nutrient-dense profile coupled with their high protein and fiber concentrations makes them a wise addition to your diet, especially for weight loss and management.
Good for Heart Health
A nut-rich diet has long been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. One study found that those who regularly consumed cashews had lower cholesterol than those who didn’t; because cholesterol is linked to heart disease, eating cashews is a tasty way to manage this risk factor. Another study, links cashew consumption to improved good cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure, both of which, if not managed, could lead to heart disease.
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. Generally, a nut-rich diet is linked to optimal heart health, however, there are very few studies on cashews specifically; more research is warranted.
May Prevent Blood Sugar Spikes
Significantly, cashews are rich in fiber which is known to prevent blood sugar spikes that could be harmful to those with diabetes. Despite there being few studies on cashews and blood sugar control, one study showed that subjects who consumed 10% of their daily caloric intake from cashews experienced lower insulin levels than those who didn’t. Another reason cashews may help manage blood sugar is that they’re low in carbohydrates; carbohydrate management is a key factor in diet-controlled diabetes since carbohydrates turn into sugar through digestion. Consequently, substituting high-sugar and high-carbohydrate foods for cashews may result in better management of blood sugar levels in diabetics.
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. While choosing nuts over other snack options may benefit the management of blood sugar levels for diabetics, there are too few studies on cashews concerning this benefit; more research is necessary.
Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed
May Strengthen Bones
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Although a mineral-rich diet is needed for the strength and health of bones, and cashews are rich in minerals such as copper and zinc, there are no studies specific to cashews and bone health.
Good For Hair
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. While copper, which is found in trace amounts in cashews, is good for hair health, there are too few studies on cashews and hair health to claim this benefit with confidence.
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