Cashew nuts are kidney shaped seeds grown in several parts of the world. It is native to Brazil along its coastline but history has it that Portuguese explorers took the plant from Brazil to South East Asia and Africa. Today, India, Brazil, Mozambique, Tanzania and Nigeria are the biggest producers worldwide.
Cashew nut is marketed in bottles in supermarkets across Nigeria though relatively expensive. If exposed, cashew nuts absorb moisture and can become stale, consequently cashew nuts must be stored in tightly sealed containers (bottles) and kept in the fridge; they could last for six months or in a freezer where they would last for about one year. However the container would be kept in a dry location, but they may not remain wholesome for more than one month.
Together with ground nuts/peanuts, cashew nuts are the most popular nuts in Nigeria.
Cashew nuts contain the following Nutrients – Protein, Fats (omega-3, sterols), magnesium, phosphorus copper, manganese, zinc, vitamin E, Potassium, folic acid, vitamin B6, and Carbohydrate (including fibre).
The nuts can be used in place of other fats for energy source as they contain the “good” fat.From the nutrients contained in the nuts, it is easy to understand the health benefits.
1. Reduced Risk of heart disease
Studies have shown that regular consumption of cashew nuts reduces the risk of heart disease by about 30-50% depending on the population. The nutrients contained in nuts including Omega-3 help to reduce cholesterol and low Density lipoprotein in the blood. These two are involved in the hardening of the walls of the blood vessel and also in the narrowing of the inside of them. The narrowing reduces the amount of blood reaching the heart resulting in heart disease.
The omega-3 in nuts may also protect against sudden deaths.
2. Reduces Risk of Gall Bladder stones in women
Gall Bladder stones are to be common in women in their forties, fair and fat. Cashew nuts help to regulate weight and studies have shown that women who consume nuts regularly have 25 percent lower risk of developing gall stones.
3. Regulation of Body Weight
Cashew nuts contain carbohydrate, fat and protein in addition to other nutrients. However the energy from cashew nuts is not much as such there won’t be much left as fat in the body. The fats contained in the cashew nuts are the unsaturated “good” fat such as Omega – 3 and sterols. Studies have shown that those also consume nuts do not put on weight, cashew nuts help to regulate their weight. Part of carbohydrate in cashew nuts is in the form of fibre.
4. Lowers Blood Cholesterol
The fats contained in nuts are known to lower blood cholesterol level and also another “bad” fat (low density lipoprotein) level in blood. The sterols (good fat) contained in cashew nuts help to prevent absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. Consequently, regular consumption of cashew nuts helps to lower the level of blood cholesterol.
5. Helps to Strengthen your Bones
Cashew nuts contain a lot of magnesium and phosphorus. Phosphorus is found mainly in our bones and teeth, so if low in the body, teeth development is poor, growth is decreased and also bone weakness can result. Magnesium helps the body to take in calcium which is most essential for our bones and teeth. Calcium is responsible mainly for the formation and maintenance of bones.
6. Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women
Studies have shown that regular consumption of cashew nuts or nuts in general helps in the regulation of a healthy body weight, thus putting obesity at bay. The risk of diabetes is therefore reduced.