Cashews belong to the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae and the order Sapindales. The popular cashew nuts are actually the kidney shaped seeds that are found attached to the bottom of the fruit of the tree called the cashew apple. The nut is renowned for its delicate flavor and is a popular special garnish for a number of salads and fry dishes. The nut is also used to make the deliciously mellow nut butter which is a rage in many countries around the world like Brazil and Nigeria. Although considered native to the coastal areas of the north-eastern zone of Brazil, cashews are regarded as delicacies and are widely appreciated by people all over the world. In the 16th century, Portuguese explorers introduced cashews into India and some African countries. Today, India, Tanzania, Mozambique, Nigeria and Brazil are the leading producers of cashew. To know more about the diverse health benefits of this variety of plant, read the pointers given below in this article.
Health Benefits Of Eating Cashew Nuts
- Consumption of cashews is very important for the prevention of gallstones in the human body. So, make sure to have a handful of cashew nut every day as a snack or toss in some of them on your salad or over your oatmeal.
- It is a known fact that the two minerals, calcium and magnesium are very essential for the production and maintenance of healthy bones. Magnesium is mainly used to give physical structure to the bones. Some magnesium is also stored on the surface of the bones for the body to utilize whenever necessary.
- The mineral magnesium is also very important to regulate the tone of nerves and muscles. This is achieved by balancing the action of the mineral calcium by acting as a natural calcium channel blocker. They help to prevent the excessive gushing of calcium into the nerve cells and activating the nerves. Thus, they play a major role in keeping the nerves relaxed and prevent their over contraction.
- Lack of adequate amounts of calcium in the body can lead to conditions like muscle spasms, migraine headaches and even high blood pressures. Apart from this, they also help to prevent muscle tensions, soreness, and fatigue and are especially beneficial for women suffering from menopausal sleep disturbances.
- Another mineral in which cashews are rich in is copper. Being an important constituent of many enzymes, copper aids in a number of physiological processes in the human body. It is especially beneficial in the removal of certain harmful free radicals from the body, aids in the utilization of iron, helps in the production of skin and melanin (hair pigment) and is important for the proper development of bones and connective tissues.
- Copper is a vital constituent of the enzyme, superoxide dismutase whose main function is to help in the processes of energy production and antioxidant defenses. It is also necessary for the activity of the enzyme lysyl oxidase which provides flexibility to blood vessels, joints and bones.
- Apart from the diverse advantages of copper mentioned above, the mineral helps to avoid certain conditions like brain disturbances, osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, rheumatoid arthritis and irregular heartbeats.
- Contrary to the popular belief that regular consumption of cashew nuts can lead to weight gain, recent studies have indicated that such theories and misconceptions are groundless. In fact, people who consume cashews twice a week are less likely to gain weight as compared to the ones that never eat them.
- As cashews are a very good source of vitamin K, they help to prevent blood coagulation and the conditions associated with it.
- Cashews are also regarded as powerful diuretics.
- Cashews contain measurable amounts of the naturally occurring substance called oxalates. Studies have indicated that concentration of these compounds in the body can lead to their crystallization and can cause health problems. Hence, people suffering from untreated or existing kidney or gall bladder problems should avoid their consumption.
- Oxalates also interfere with the absorption of calcium from the body.
- Food allergic reactions may sometimes develop due to the consumption of cashews. These reactions may either be immediate and specific (like itching, swelling or lips and nasal congestion etc) or they might be delayed and general (like fatigue and depression).
- Cashew nuts can be utilized in a variety of dishes and recipes like salads, pastas, soups, stews and even desserts.
- Cashew butter can be made easily by blending and processing in a food processor until the paste reaches the consistency of peanut butter.
- It is always advisable to add cashews to hot dishes only towards the end of the cooking process. Else they will quickly soften and begin to disintegrate.
- In recipes requiring baking, cashew nuts become soft and hence do not retain their crunch like other nuts.