Saturday 15 June, 2019

Botanical Roots: Why you should eat cashew

Cashew nuts (PHOTO: iSTock)

Cashew nuts (PHOTO: iSTock)

Native to the coastal areas of north-eastern Brazil, the cashew tree is unique in that it produces both a fruit and a nut. It belongs to the family of Anacardiaceae which also includes mangoes and pistachios. 

Cashew nuts, which are more popular than the fruit in Jamaica, can be eaten roasted or plain. They are added to many dishes and salads, cookies, biscuits, and ice cream. Each ounce of cashew contains around 160 calories, so it’s best to limit yourself to a handful (16-18 nuts) a day.

Still, it boasts a wide range of health benefits including boosting heart health, strong nerve and muscle function, and improving bone and oral health. The cashew also staves off the effects of diabetes, anemia and gall stones. By offering an antioxidant defense, they also encourage a better immune system.

Cashews are very nutritious and are packed full with proteins and essentials such as copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. They also have a small portion of sodium. 

A USDA National Nutrient Database study has revealed that cashews also contain vitamin C, vitamin B, thiamin, folate, vitamin E and vitamin K. They are also a source of oleic acid and provide a good quantity of monounsaturated fat and low amounts of polyunsaturated fats with no cholesterol content when consumed in moderation.

Cashews are a good source of healthy dietary fats, which are vital for our body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, and produce fatty acids that are crucial for the development of the brain and blood clotting. 

The fruit has great health benefits also as it contains anti-bacterial properties and is effective in treating stomach ulcers and gastritis. The juice from cashew fruit is rich in vitamin C and also has antioxidants, attributes which make it widely used in the cosmetic industry including in the preparation of various creams and shampoos. 

However, one should be careful not to consume too much of the fruit in one sitting as it contains oxalate salts which interfere with the absorption of calcium in the body. This can result in the formation of kidney stones. 

Also, they can be harmful to persons who are allergic to tree nuts. 

That aside, cashews are a healthy option to be included in the diet. If consumed in appropriate amounts; they can help maintain a robust and steady state of health.

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