Cashew nut nutrition facts
Mildly sweet yet crunchy, delicious cashew nut is packed with energy, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that are essential for robust health! Cashews, or "caju" in Portugese, are a popular ingredient in sweet as well savory dishes.
Botanically, cashew is an average size evergreen tree belonging to the Anacardiaceae family of the genus: Anacardium.
Scientific name:Anacardium occidentale.
The cashew tree is native to Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, which spread all over the world by Portuguese explorers. Today, it is grown commercially in Brazil, Vietnam, and India and in many African countries.
Cashew tree bears numerous, edible, pear shaped false fruits or “accessory fruits” called "cashew apples." A small bean shaped, grey color “true fruit” is firmly adhering to lower end of these apples appearing like a clapper in the bell. This true fruit is actually a drupe, featuring hard outer shell enclosing a single edible seed or the “cashew nut.” The outer shell contains a phenolic resin, urushiol, which is a potent caustic skin irritant toxin. It is, therefore, the outer shell is roasted in the processing unit in order to destroy the resin, urushiol and then, the edible nut is extracted.
Cashew nut measures about a inch in length and 1/2 inches in diameter with kidney or bean shape, and smooth curvy pointed tip. Each nut has two equal halves as in legumes. The nuts are cream white color with firm yet delicate texture and smooth surface. Cashews have buttery texture with pleasant sweet fruity aroma.
Health benefits of Cashew nuts
Cashews are high in calories. 100 g of nuts provide 553 calories. They are packed with soluble dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and numerous health-promoting phyto-chemicals that help protect from diseases and cancers.
They are rich in “heart-friendly” monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic and palmitoleic acids that help to lower or bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids helps to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
Cashew nuts are very rich source of minerals. Minerals especially manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium are concentrated in the nuts. A handful of cashew nuts a day in the diet would provide enough of these minerals and prevent deficiency diseases. Selenium is an important micronutrient, which functions as co-factor for antioxidant enzymes such as Glutathione peroxidases, one of the most powerful antioxidant in the body. Copper is a cofactor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function as co-factors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc). Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, sperm generation, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis.
Cashews are also rich in many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that our body requires them from external sources to replenish and essential for metabolism of protein, fat, and carbohydrates at cellular levels.
In addition, the nuts are also containing small amount of Zea-xanthin, an important flavonoid antioxidant, which selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes. It is thought to provide antioxidant and protective UV ray filtering functions and helps prevent age related macular degeneration (ARMD) in the elderly.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||43.85 g||146%|
|Dietary Fiber||3.3 g||8.5%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.864 mg||17%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||0.5 mg||1%|
|Vitamin E||5.31 mg||35%|
|Vitamin K||4.1 µg||3%|
Selection and storage
Cashew nuts are available in the markets year around. In the stores, only shelled cashews are made available since shell contains phenolic resin, urushiol, which is a potent skin irritant toxin.
Different forms of cashews are available; raw, salted, sweetened or ground...etc. Buy shelled nuts that are bright cream-white in color, compact, uniform in size and feel heavy in hand. They should be free from cracks, mold, and spots and free of rancid smell.
Store shelled nuts inside airtight container and place in the refrigerator to avoid them turn rancid. Under ideal conditions, fresh nuts should last for 5-6 months.
Here are some serving tips:
- Cashews are eaten as a snack either on its own, salted or sweetened.
- Cashews are nutty yet pleasantly sweet in taste. They are relished as garnish in sweets and desserts.
- Cashews, along with almonds and other dry fruits are being used in various rice dishes hyderbadi-biriyani, rice-pulao...etc, and in curry (kaaju-shahi-paneer) preparations in Indian, Pakistani and Middle East regions.
- Crushed cashew with almonds, pistachio are often sprinkled over desserts, particularly sundaes, and other confectionary.
- The nuts are widely used in confectionery, as an addition to biscuits, sweets and cakes.
- "Cashew apples" are among popular fruits; eaten on their own in many regions of the world. They are also being used to make liquors.
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