Native to Brazil, the cashew tree produces light brown kidney-shaped nuts. Cashews have been consumed for centuries in South America, where they are also used for health and medicinal purposes, such as in a balm to keep bugs away from the skin. Eating cashews may also benefit your heart because they contain several nutrients that promote health and prevent disease.
A 1-ounce serving of cashews contains about 13 grams of fat, and 10 of those are the healthy unsaturated variety according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in cashews benefit your heart by helping to lower your bad cholesterol levels. Michael T. Murray, Joseph Pizzorno and Lara Pizzorno report in their book, "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods," that cashews also contain a form of monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Oliec acid may contribute to a decrease in heart disease risk, including heart attack.
Cashews do not contain as much vitamin E as some other types of nuts, but the amount they do supply may be beneficial for the health of your heart. A report from Linus Pauling Institute explains that vitamin E has the potential to inhibit the formation of plaque in your arteries so that blood is able to pass through them properly. The development of plaque in your arteries may lead to pain in the chest, coronary artery disease and heart attack. One serving of cashews contains .9 mg of vitamin E.
Fiber is another important nutrient in your diet and contributes to heart health as well. Harvard School of Public Health reports that fiber plays a role in lowering your cholesterol levels and improving the health of your heart. Eating a diet rich in fiber may also cut your risk of heart disease. The fiber that cashews contain may also help reduce your blood pressure and inflammation, which can contribute to an improvement in the health of your heart. One serving of cashews supplies 3.3 grams of fiber.
While walnuts are the nut highest in omega-3 fatty acids, cashews contain a beneficial amount as well. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to heart health because they help normalize your heart beat and prevent abnormal heart rhythms. L-arginine is another compound in cashews that contributes to a healthy heart by keeping your arteries strong so blood is able to flow efficiently. L-arginine may also help prevent dangerous blood clots by keeping your arteries clear.
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin E and Heart Disease
- "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods": Michael T. Murray, Joseph Pizzorno and Lara Pizzorno
- United States Department of Agriculture: Nuts, Cashew Nuts, Raw
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber: Start Roughing It!
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nuts, Cashew Nuts, Dry Roasted, Without Salt