Who doesn’t know about cashew nuts?
Well, cashew nuts are the kidney shaped seeds that adhere to the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree which is native to the coastal areas of northeastern Brazil. This nut, which as I mentioned is actually a seed, is jam packed with nutritional content. Containing a significant 5 grams of protein per ounce and high levels of the essential minerals iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, copper and manganese.
Some of you may be deterred from eating nuts due to their high fat content? And it is true, cashews are relatively high in fat (12 grams per ounce, with 2 grams being saturated fat). But it is a “good fat”, due to the agreeable fat ratio in the nut (1:2:1 for saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated, respectively, which scientists say is the ideal ratio for optimal health).
And even with the relatively high fat content, cashews are considered to be a ‘low-fat’ nut. Cashews contain less fat per serve than other popular nuts, including almonds, walnuts and pecans. The advice from this end though, as with any food or indulgence, consume mindfully and with moderation in mind.
So let’s talk about how this little nut can benefit our bodies in a big way.
Reduce the risk of heart disease.
It is the fatty acid profile of cashews that contributes to our good health. Phytosterols, tocopherols, and squalene, all constituents of fatty acids, all serve to lower the risk of heart disease.
Cardiovascular and Circulatory Health
The cashew contains no cholesterol, which is a rarity for such a great tasting treat! As such, cashew nuts are a healthy fat food for those wanting to foster cardiovascular health and those with heart concerns. High levels of monounsaturated fatty acids mean they also help support healthy levels of good (HDL) cholesterol, imperative to healthy heart function.
The cashew’s high magnesium content also takes the credit for its healthy heart qualities. One ounce will contribute to 21% of your daily recommended intake of this heart healthy mineral, which also protects against high blood pressure, muscle spasms, migraine headaches, tension, soreness and fatigue.
Magnesium also works with calcium to support healthy muscles and bones in the human body.
Reduce the signs of aging
Cashews have a high copper content, too, meaning they assist the body in utilizing iron, eliminating free radicals, developing bone and connective tissue, supporting and regenerating joints, and producing the skin and hair pigment melanin.
So how about we just eat some cashews then! My dear friend and mentor Jo Antoun has created a delicious way to prepare them into bite size treats. I find that having a few of these balls on hand is a smart way to moderate my nut consumption (rather than sitting and devouring a whole bag of nuts) and a handy between meals snack. I also recommend making a big batch and freezing them for last minute guest arrivals. Here is the recipe for her Lemony Coconut Cake Balls.
2 1/2 cups raw cashews
1 1/2 cups raw shredded coconut
2 tablespoons raw honey
Juice of 2 lemons
Rind from 2 lemons
Desiccated coconut (optional)
Using a lemon zester, peel the rind from the lemons and then juice them. Into a blender, place just the cashews and process until they are a fine powder. Then add the lemon juice, rind, honey and shredded coconut to the blender to combine. The resulting mixture should be tacky and moist. Roll into bite sized balls with your hands. Coat in desiccated coconut (optional) and pop in the fridge. Simple, yet effective.
So now I’ve got you crazy for cashew nuts, you might like to experiment with them (and a multitude of other nuts) in different ways. You can find many a nut based recipes in A Nourishing Kitchen: