Cashew nuts are the kidney-shaped seeds of the tree Anacardium occidentale, native to Brazil. This article explains all the cashew benefits based on science including any possible health risks.
Cashew nut is a tasty snack that is quickly gaining popularity due to its nutritional benefits. It also makes amazing nut butter, cashew milk, and cashew-based cheese & cream sauce.
While these super nuts are easily available and sold in many varieties, prefer dry roasted and unsalted ones. This way, you effectively minimize the risk of various diseases such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, and stroke.
Moreover, their powerful micro-nutrient content improves skin & hair health too.
Here is the complete list of 14 science-backed benefits of cashew nuts for you.
Table of Contents
- A. Cashew Nutrition Facts
- B. 14 Health Benefits of Cashew Nuts [Science-Based]
- 1. Promote Heart Health
- 2. Reduce Risk of Diabetes
- 3. Support Blood Health
- 4. Reduce the risk of anemia.
- 5. Keep Your Bones & Teeth Healthy
- 6. Prevent Gallstones
- 7. Good for Eye Health
- 8. Boost Immunity
- 9. May Act as Cancer Chemopreventive agent
- 10. Keep Muscles and Nerves Healthy
- 11. Help in Weight Loss
- 12. Benefit Skin
- 13. Improve Digestion
- 14. Support Men Health
- C. Cashew Nut Side Effects/Disadvantages
- D. How to Reap Nutritional Benefits of Cashews?
- E. Conclusion
A. Cashew Nutrition Facts
Cashew nuts, Raw, 1 ounce (28g)
|Vitamin E||0.3 mg||1%|
|Vitamin K||9.5 mcg||12%|
|Vitamin B6||0.1 mg||6%|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||7.0 mcg||2%|
NOTE: Percent daily values (%DV) are based on a 2000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may differ depending on your individual needs.
Cashew nuts are a great source of vitamins E, K, B6, and B9. These nuts are also rich in minerals such as copper, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
On the top of that, cashews have a lower fat content, 82% of which is unsaturated fatty acids. And 66% of these unsaturated fatty acids are monounsaturated fats, which are healthy fats.
B1. How many cashews make 1-ounce?
A 1-ounce serving of cashews contains 16 to 18 whole cashew nuts.
B2. How much cashew nuts to eat per day?
Studies suggest eating more than 4 ounces of cashews per week for its maximum health benefits. This quantity of nuts fulfills the recommended intake of nutrients required by your body, which, in turn, brings impressive changes to your health.
B. 14 Health Benefits of Cashew Nuts [Science-Based]
1. Promote Heart Health
[✓] Cashew nut benefits your heart with their healthy fats such as monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA).
(1 ounce (28g) of cashews contain 6.7 g Monounsaturated fats and 2.2 g Polyunsaturated fats)
➥ Triglycerides are a type of fat carried in the blood. Their high level increases the risk of heart disease.
This HDL absorbs cholesterol from the heart and carries it to the liver for its breakdown and elimination.
When you reduce these risk factors, consequently the risk of cardiovascular diseases lowers down too.
[✓] Furthermore, monounsaturated fats also protect against ‘atherosclerosis’ (narrowing of arteries due to plaque build-up) too (R).
[✓] Besides, the arginine content (594 mg in 1 oz) of these nuts protects the inner lining of arteries.
[✓] Even better, cashews are cholesterol-free and contain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6 and potassium, which protect against heart disease.
1.1 How to eat cashews for its cardioprotective benefits?
The American Heart Association recommends eating 4 servings of unsalted nuts a week (R).
(Where 1 serving = 1.5 ounces (small handful) of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter)
According to the British Journal of Nutrition- eating nuts more than four times a week reduces the risk of heart disease by 37% (R).
Take these nut servings with a heart-healthy low-fat diet (one which is low in saturated fats and cholesterol). Also, select only raw or dry-roasted nuts.
2. Reduce Risk of Diabetes
[✓] Cashews are cholesterol-free and contain very low amounts of sugar (just 1.7 g in 1 ounce). This makes cashew nuts safe for people with diabetes.
- Cashew nuts taken with bread significantly reduce the rise in blood sugar level that occurs after a meal (R). Thus, nuts help in weight management and improve blood glucose control in diabetic people.
- Besides, studies also found that cashews increase HDL or “good” cholesterol and decrease systolic blood pressure in type 2 diabetic patients (R).
[✓] What’s more, cashew benefits healthy individuals too by lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes (R).
3. Support Blood Health
[✓] Copper and iron are essential for the formation of functional red blood cells (R).
Cashews are a good source of both copper and iron (containing 0.6 mg of copper and 1.9 mg of iron in 1-ounce nuts).
- Iron makes up the active part of heme in hemoglobin protein, which binds to and carries oxygen.
- While copper aids in iron absorption. It ensures your cells get the iron to produce red blood cells containing hemoglobin protein.
[✓] Moreover, copper being an antioxidant nutrient prevents free radical damage to the blood cells. Healthy blood, in turn, nourishes all parts of the body and keeps them functioning well.
[✓] Besides, copper also keeps the immune system, blood vessels, nerves, brain, and bones healthy.
And the deficiency of copper and iron causes anemia. This brings us to the next cashew benefit.
4. Reduce the risk of anemia.
Cashews are a good source of dietary iron, which lowers the risk of anemia.
➥ Anemia is a condition when your blood lacks enough hemoglobin or red blood cells. Symptoms include feeling tired, shortness of breath, or dizziness (R).
[✓] Iron plays a key role in the formation of healthy red blood cells, which transport oxygen across the body.
[✓] Besides, iron also assists in the normal functioning of enzymes and immune system.
5. Keep Your Bones & Teeth Healthy
Healthy development of bones requires the trio of magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.
[✓] Magnesium assists in the absorption and metabolism of calcium, while phosphorus works with calcium to build healthy bones and teeth.
Cashews contain a good amount of phosphorus and magnesium- 166 mg and 81.8 mg respectively.
Thus, cashew nut benefits your bones by making them stronger. Even better, they reduce the risk of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
[✓] Besides, phosphorus also helps in (R):
- the absorption of fats and carbohydrate,
- protein synthesis,
- maintenance of cellular health, and
- the production of ATP (a molecule that body uses to store energy)
[✓] While magnesium serves other purposes such as-
- Keeping nerves, blood vessels, and muscles relaxed- (Magnesium blocks the entry of calcium into the nerve cell and prevents excessive contraction)
- Reducing the frequency of migraine attacks.
- Lowering blood pressure
- Allowing sound sleep
- Relieving asthma
6. Prevent Gallstones
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition- frequent nut consumption reduces the risk of the need for a gallbladder removal surgery (R).
➥ Gallstones are the hardened deposits of digestive fluids or cholesterol in the gallbladder (R).
➥ The gallbladder is a small hollow organ under the liver that stores bile (fluid that helps in the digestion of fats) produced by the liver.
- The Nurse’s Health Study collected data for over 20 years on 80,718 women. It proved that consuming > or = 5 ounces of nuts per week reduces the risk of gallstones by 25% (R).
- Similarly, Health Professional’s Follow-up study on 43,000 men shows that 5 or more servings of nuts/week reduce the gallstone disease by 30% (R).
(Where 1 serving = 1.5 ounces and 1 ounce = 28.6 g nuts or about 2 tablespoons of nut butter)
Hence, regularly eating nuts such as cashew or peanut benefits by lowering the risk of gallstones (R).
Note: When using cashew butter, go for whole wheat bread for its vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
7. Good for Eye Health
What comes to your mind when you hear the word eye health?
Well, the recent studies have found that cashews too are good for your eyes.
[✓] They contain carotenoids- lutein & zeaxanthin (6.2 mcg in 1-ounce cashews). Both of these carotenoid compounds accumulate in the lens and retina of the human eye and (R):
- Protect your eyes from light (UV) damage.
- Absorb harmful blue light, and
- Neutralize reactive oxygen species (that can damage eye tissues) with their antioxidant properties.
Antioxidant protection depletes during the middle age, which can expose eyes to diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
➥ Macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease that is the leading cause of vision loss.
➥ Cataract is a slowly developing dense cloudy area in the lens of the eyes that affects vision.
Also, the eye damage occurring due to long-term exposure to sunlight may even lead to blindness later on in life (R).
Therefore, including cashew nuts in your diet benefits and protects your eyes against damage with their supply of eye antioxidants.
8. Boost Immunity
Cashews with their zinc content improve immunity against infections. (1 ounce of cashews contains 1.6 mg zinc).
[✓] Your body needs zinc for proper development and function of the cells that provide you natural immunity such as neutrophils and natural killer cells.
This means that zinc deficiency makes you an easy target of various pathogens.
[✓] Besides, zinc also plays a crucial role in:
- Wound healing
- Protein synthesis, and
- Healthy development of the child during pregnancy & childhood.
9. May Act as Cancer Chemopreventive agent
[✓] Research shows that cashews contain phenolic compounds that are effective against tumor and cancer with their antioxidant activity (R).
These compounds include anacardic acids and its derivatives; cardanols, and cardols (R).
[✓] Moreover, its proanthocyanidins (an antioxidant flavonoid) starve cancer cells and inhibit their ability to divide and multiply.
➥ Cancer chemopreventive agents inhibit, delay, or reverse the process of the creation of cancer cells. Anacardic acids are one of their examples which different parts of cashews contain in this order:
Cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL)> cashew fiber> roasted cashew nut.
However, the low amounts of anacardic acids in raw and roasted cashew nuts requires you to eat them regularly to observe their chemopreventive activity.
[✓] Besides, cashews also contain copper, which protects against harmful free radicals. And its deficiency increases these risk factors responsible for colon cancer (R).
- fecal free radical production
- fecal water alkaline phosphatase activity
What’s more, intake of nuts during adolescence prevents breast cancer too (R).
Just eating 12 cashew nuts a day can give you the benefits of its chemoprotective activity.
10. Keep Muscles and Nerves Healthy
[✓] Cashews provide magnesium, which is essential for the healthy development of muscles, tissues, organs, and bones (R). (1-ounce cashews contain 81.8 mg of magnesium)
[✓] Other than that, magnesium in cashew nuts also benefits by:
- Strengthening bones,
- Maintaining blood pressure,
- Improving nerve function, and
- Boosting immunity
11. Help in Weight Loss
[✓] Cashews like other nuts have a higher fat content (45% to 75% of weight). But those fats are mostly unsaturated fats that improve your health.
They prevent weight gain as well as reduce the levels of cholesterol.
- According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating cashews in long-term does not increase weight.
Women who consumed nuts two or more times a week over an 8-year period had lowered their risk of obesity (R) (R).
- A study conducted on 8865 men over 28 months concluded that participants who ate nuts two or more times per week were 31% less likely to gain weight than those or rarely or never ate them (R).
This weight maintenance effect of cashews is for the reason that they boost metabolism with their omega-3 fatty acids and cause fat-burn.
[✓] Plus, being a tasty snack, they keep you full for longer without compromising on nutritional aspect.
Journal of Nutrition states that people who regularly consume nuts have a lower BMI than those who don’t (R).
➥ BMI or Body Mass Index is a tool to determine if an individual is underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese.
It just requires your weight and height to calculate your BMI number, which indicates your body fatness.
When consuming, prefer raw and unsalted nuts and eat them in moderation. Or, spread some nut butter on your breakfast toast or bagel to lose that extra weight quickly.
12. Benefit Skin
[✓] Cashew nut oil is excellent for your skin health. It contains selenium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
What’s more, cashew nut oil is rich in antioxidants and proteins too.
All these elements, especially the selenium (5.6 mcg) ensure a flawless skin as-
- Selenium neutralizes free radicals and skin damaging compounds to keeps wrinkles away.
- Moreover, it shields skin cells from UV radiation and protects against skin cancer (R).
- Furthermore, selenium also works with zinc to reduce the severity and inflammation of acne.
- Besides, copper content in cashews helps in collagen production and promotes a wrinkle-free skin.
13. Improve Digestion
Dietary fibers are essential for a healthy digestive system. But, your body doesn’t produce them. So you need to get them from fruits, vegetables, cereals, and nuts.
[✓] Cashews are a good source of dietary fibers (0.9 g). They support your digestion and reduce the occurrence of digestive problems.
However, their overconsumption may cause bloating and production of intestinal gas too. So it is equally important to consume cashew nuts in moderation for their digestive benefits.
14. Support Men Health
[✓] Regular consumption of cashew nuts benefits men by improving sexual and reproductive health.
The reason is that these nuts are a good source of zinc and L-arginine (1.6 mg and 594 mg, respectively).
[✓] Moreover, cashews also protect the stomach against alcohol damage with their anacardic acids.
FOR MORE: Here’s a detailed piece on how cashews benefit men health in 7 different ways
C. Cashew Nut Side Effects/Disadvantages
- Truly raw cashews can trigger mild to severe skin reaction in some people as it contains a toxic substance called urushiol. Avoid them. Only eat cashews that have been steamed to remove its toxins. Such cashews are safe & healthy and are sold as “raw” in stores.
- Tree nuts such as cashews are considered a major food allergen in the US which can cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock. This includes swelling of the tongue, noisy breathing, and loss of consciousness.
Hence, people with a nut allergy should avoid cashews.
2. Kidney stones:
Cashew nuts contain oxalate salts that interfere with calcium absorption process in the body. Excess of calcium left unabsorbed binds with oxalate to form calcium oxalate stone.
Therefore, if you’ve had a kidney stone, you may want to avoid foods high in oxalate such as cashews.
3. Eating unmindfully & unselectively may cause diseases
Salted cashews can easily fill you with the excess of sodium with their great taste. Just 1-ounce salted nuts contain whopping 87 g of sodium.
Chances are you go beyond the upper limit of daily sodium intake of 2,300 mg. Over time, excess salt consumption may lead to heart and kidney diseases.
So, choose unsalted nuts, which contain just 5 g of sodium per ounce, and avert such ailments.
4. Possible Drug Interactions
Cashews contain magnesium in abundance (81.8 mg/ounce), which can be problematic with certain drugs.
Magnesium binds together with quinolone antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin, and prevent their proper absorption.
Moreover, magnesium may also interact with blood pressure medications and cause side effects such as nausea and water retention.
What’s more, it may even interact with diabetic and thyroid medications.
Hence, keep an eye on drug information to avoid such side effects arising from cashews.
D. How to Reap Nutritional Benefits of Cashews?
1. Buy cashews in a sealed package
Cashews contain high levels of omega-6 fats that oxidize quite easily. This makes them the perfect site for mold.
Eating contaminated cashews can cause headaches, joint pain, brain fog, or food cravings.
Interestingly, the chances for mold growth increase after the removal of tough and toxic outer layer by boiling in order to make them safe for consumption.
So, get cashews only in a sealed pack, which keeps them fresh and mold-free.
2. Do not over-consume as they are heavy on your gut
Nuts are high in lectins (proteins), which bind to carbohydrates and pass undigested. This can lead to stomach problems such as cramping and bloating.
Not only that, but lectins also interfere with the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
Hence, avoid over-consuming of nuts and remove them from your diet for some time on experiencing such issues.
3. Store cashews in a cool place in an airtight container
Cashews are rich in oleic acid, which makes them comparatively more stable than other nuts.
But still, store them tightly packed in a cool place. A refrigerator keeps them fresh for 6 months, while a freezer keeps them good for about 1 year.
These were all the benefits of cashew nuts backed by science.
Their high levels of healthy fats support your heart and keep it functioning well. Plus, the nuts also reduce “bad” cholesterol and prevent heart diseases such as stroke.
Furthermore, consuming cashews on a regular basis improves your blood and eye health as well. Also, they reduce the risk of cancer & diabetes and help in controlling weight.
Even better, they promote immunity and make your bones stronger and disease-free.
So, what’s the wait for! Get yourself a pack of cashews from your local store and snack on!
What do you think of this info on cashew benefits? What’s your way of serving cashews? Or, do you have any query in mind? Let me know by dropping a quick comment.