The benefits of cashew nuts
Several epidemiological and clinical studies associate regular consumption of nuts and oilseeds with various health benefits. They would have a cholesterol-lowering effect and they would reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstones and ablation of the gallbladder, and colon cancer in women.
The amount of nuts and oilseeds to consume for health benefits is, in most studies, about five 30 g (1 oz) servings per week
Active principles and properties
For the cashew nuts
Monounsaturated fatty acids. Like most nuts and oilseeds, nearly three-quarters of the cashew's total calories are from lipids (fats). The majority (60%) of these fats are in the form of monounsaturated fatty acids, a type of fat with beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. Indeed, replacing saturated fatty acids in the diet with monounsaturated fatty acids leads to a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL ("bad" cholesterol), without reducing HDL ("good" cholesterol).
Phytosterols. Phytosterols are compounds found in plants that are structurally similar to cholesterol. A meta-analysis of 41 clinical trials showed that taking 2 g of phytosterols daily reduced LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels by 10%. This reduction could reach 20% in the context of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
One study pegged the phytosterol content of cashew nuts at 150mg per 100g serving. For comparison, the same amount of almonds contains 200 mg and the champions, sesame seeds, contain 400 mg. The phytosterol content of plants is still relatively low, it is practically impossible to obtain an intake of only 2 g per day from food. At this time, Health Canada does not allow the marketing of foods fortified with phytosterols.
Even if the effects of phytosterols naturally present in food have not been evaluated directly, it is possible to assume that they remain interesting for cardiovascular health.
Antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells in the body from damage caused by free radicals. The latter would be involved in the development of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other diseases related to aging. Authors have evaluated that the cashew nut has one of the lowest levels of antioxidants among the nuts and oleaginous fruits, for example the walnut, the almond, the pecan, the pistachio and the hazelnut.
Zoom on the micronutrients contained in the cashew nut
Magnesium. Cashews and cashew butter are excellent sources of magnesium for women and good sources for men (men's magnesium requirements are higher than women's). Magnesium participates in bone development, building proteins, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and nerve impulse transmission.
Copper. Cashew nuts and cashew butter are excellent sources of copper. As a constituent of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (a protein used in tissue structure and repair) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also contribute to the body's defense against free radicals.
Phosphorus : Cashew nuts and cashew butter are good sources of phosphorus. Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium. It plays an essential role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates, among other things, in the growth and regeneration of tissues and helps to maintain normal blood pH. Finally, phosphorus is one of the constituents of cell membranes.
Manganese : cashew nuts are a good source of manganese for women and a good source for men (the manganese needs of men being higher than those of women). Cashew butter is a source of manganese. Manganese acts as a cofactor for several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also helps prevent damage caused by free radicals;
Vitamin B1 : Cashew nuts and cashew butter are sources of vitamin B1. Also called thiamine, vitamin B1 is part of a coenzyme necessary for the production of main energy;
Folate : Cashew nuts and cashew butter are sources of folate. Folate (vitamin B9) is involved in the production of all cells in the body, including red blood cells. This vitamin plays an essential role in the production of genetic material (DNA, RNA), in the functioning of the nervous system and the immune system, as well as in the healing of wounds and wounds. As folate is necessary for the production of new cells, adequate consumption is essential during periods of growth and for the development of the fetus;
Iron : Cashew nuts and cashew butter are good sources of iron for men and sources for women (women's iron needs are higher than men's). Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in making new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters. It should be noted that the iron contained in foods of plant origin (such as cashew nuts) is less well absorbed by the body than the iron contained in foods of animal origin. The absorption of iron from plants is however favored by the consumption of certain nutrients, such as vitamin C;
Selenium : Cashew nuts and cashew butter are sources of selenium. This mineral works with one of the main antioxidant enzymes, preventing the formation of free radicals in the body. It also helps convert thyroid hormones into their active form;
Vitamin B2 : cashew nuts are a source of vitamin B2, while cashew butter is a source for women only (men's vitamin B2 needs are higher than women's). Vitamin B2 is also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, it plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to the growth and repair of tissues, the production of hormones and the formation of red blood cells;
Vitamin E : cashew butter is a source of vitamin E. A major antioxidant, vitamin E protects the membrane that surrounds cells in the body, especially red blood cells and white blood cells (cells of the immune system);
Zinc : Cashew nuts and cashew butter are good sources of zinc. Zinc participates in particular in immune reactions, in the production of genetic material, in the perception of taste, in the healing of wounds and in the development of the fetus. It also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones. In the pancreas, it participates in the manufacture, storage and release of insulin;
Vitamin B6 : Cashew nuts and cashew butter are sources of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, is part of coenzymes involved in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as the production of neurotransmitters. It also contributes to the production of red blood cells and allows them to carry more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and it helps the proper functioning of the immune system. Finally, this vitamin plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells;
pantothenic acid : Cashew nuts and cashew butter are sources of pantothenic acid. Also called vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is part of a key coenzyme allowing us to properly use the energy present in the food we eat. It is also involved in several steps in the synthesis (manufacture) of steroid hormones, neurotransmitters and hemoglobin;
Vitamin K : Cashew nuts are a source of vitamin K. Vitamin K is necessary for the manufacture of proteins that are involved in blood clotting (both stimulating and inhibiting blood clotting). It also plays a role in bone formation. In addition to being found in the diet, vitamin K is made by bacteria in the gut, hence the rarity of vitamin K deficiencies.
Nutritional and caloric values of cashew nuts
100g dry roasted cashew nuts:
The cashew nut grows on a false fruit called the cashew apple, even though it is more pear-shaped. The cashew apple, yellow or red in color, is particularly consumed in Brazil, raw, cooked or in juice. It contains different antioxidant compounds, such as vitamin C, flavonoids and carotenoids. The cashew apple is rich in tannins, which gives it a bitter flavor and marked astringency. It is usually cooked, dried or candied. We also make, with its juice, a wine which has the reputation of being the best wine made with a tropical fruit.
The cashew nut, sometimes called cashew, is the fruit of the cashew tree, a tree native to tropical America. Available all year round in France, in its dry form, it can be recognized by its unique bean shape and its pronounced yet slightly sweet taste.
You can find "raw" cashews on the market, whole, in halves, in pieces, as well as cashews roasted dry or in oil, salted or not, coated with chocolate, yogurt, spices , etc. Nuts are classified according to their size, coloring and water content.
Commercially, most so-called "raw" cashews are actually not roasted. But they are still cooked, since they are generally steamed to soften the shell to extract the fruit. There are a few rare companies that offer genuine raw cashews. They are shelled using a special technique so that the cashew balm does not contaminate them.
To check if the ones you have bought are really raw, you just have to put them to germinate, as you do for alfalfa seed or wheat grain. Raw nuts will germinate while steamed nuts will rot without sprouting.