Cashews are a popular ingredient in many types of ethnic cuisine and a healthy snack for both children and adults. The cashew tree is native to northeastern Brazil, according to the George Mateljan Foundation World's Healthiest Foods website. The cashew nut is actually a seed produced by the cashew tree. Cashews are not grown in the United States; they are mostly grown in Vietnam, India and Nigeria, according to information provided by the University of Georgia.
According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, cashews are lower in fat than other popular nuts, such as peanuts and walnuts, and contain an average of 16 grams of fat per 1/4 cup. The fat contained in cashews is mostly unsaturated fatty acids, of which 75 percent is oleic acid, the same type of monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. When eaten in moderation, foods containing monunsaturated fats, such as cashews, can help to lower your levels of "bad" cholesterol, or LDL, and prevent the risk of stroke or heart attack, according to the American Heart Association.
Copper is an essential part of your diet. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, copper is an antioxidant, meaning that it fights the effect of free radical damage on your body. Copper also plays a part in the production of hemoglobin, so it can potentially help to fight blood disorders like anemia. It also has an important role in melanin production, which determines the pigment in your skin and hair. According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, 1/4 cup of cashews contains 38 percent of your recommended daily allowance of copper.
Cashews are a good source for the important bone nutrient magnesium. Half of your body's store of magnesium is found in your bones, according to the National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium is required for bone health and the proper function of your muscles, nerves and immune system. It also helps to regulate blood pressure. According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, 1/4 cup of cashews contains 22.3 percent of your recommended daily allowance of magnesium.
It's easy to add cashews to many common recipes to boost flavor and add crunch. You can add cashews to dried fruit to make a trail mix or add a handful of nuts to stir-fries with beef, shrimp or chicken. Cashew butter is also becoming a popular substitute for peanut butter and can be used on sandwiches and in homemade sauces and dips.