Nuts used to be the bane of a "healthy" diet because of their high fat content. Now the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends including them as part of a well-rounded diet. While calories in cashews are high, they contain diverse nutrients.
Cashews include important minerals, antioxidants and phytosterols, and are a source of healthy fats. However, enjoying more than a handful can turn a beneficial snack into the potential source of extra pounds.
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There are a significant number of calories in nuts. You'll get 164 calories in 1 ounce of cashews.
Read more: The Right Serving Size for Nuts and Seeds
Count the Calories in Cashews
Like all nuts, the calories in cashews are high. You'll get 164 calories from eating 1-ounce of dry-roasted cashews, according to USDA FoodData Central. You might be surprised to learn that an ounce of oil-roasted cashews has almost exactly the same number —163 calories. When you eat cashews, portion control is essential. According to Cleveland Clinic, 1 ounce of medium cashews is about 18 nuts.
A daily serving of nuts may deliver significant health benefits, but you'll negate all the positives if your cashew snack adds enough extra calories to cause weight gain. Don't randomly pop handfuls of nuts in your mouth without keeping track of how much you eat. Include calories from cashews as part of your total calories rather than adding them to your normal diet.
Beware High Fat Content
Total calories are the bottom line for weight maintenance, but the number of calories from fat is another important consideration for your health. According to USDA FoodData Central, an ounce of cashews has 13 grams of total fat, which adds up to 117 calories.
The National Academies of Sciences recommends getting 20 to 35 percent of your total daily calories from fats. A 1-ounce serving of cashews contains 14 grams of fat. That's a lot of fat for a small amount of food, so be sure to work it in to your total daily intake.
On the positive side, cashews primarily provide healthy unsaturated fats, and they don't have any cholesterol. About 22 percent of the fat in cashews is saturated — the "bad" type of fat that can contribute to blood cholesterol and heart disease, according to Mayo Clinic.
The rest of the fat in cashews consists of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Both fats lower total cholesterol and help reduce levels of low-density lipoproteins, which are more commonly known as "bad cholesterol."
But monounsaturated fats offer another benefit: They can help increase levels of high-density lipoproteins, or HDLs. These are considered good cholesterol because they carry unhealthy fats to the liver, where they're eliminated from the body.
Read more: 9 Healthy Nuts That May Help You Live Longer
Count the Carbs and Protein
Cashews have 9 grams of total carbohydrates in a 1-ounce serving. While this isn't a significant amount — it's only 3 percent of the daily value for carbs — cashews do contain more carbs than any other tree nut.
Cashews contain a small amount of dietary fiber — almost 1 gram per 1-ounce serving or 4 percent of the daily value — and about 1 gram of natural sugar, which is included in the calories for total carbohydrates. The remaining carbs consist primarily of starch, which is a large, complex carbohydrate that helps prevent spikes in blood sugar because it's digested more slowly than simple sugar, according to Mayo Clinic.
A 1-ounce serving of cashews provides 5 grams of protein — 5 to 11 percent of your daily needs. According to the National Academies of Sciences, men need at least 56 grams of protein per day whereas women need 46 grams.
- Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: "2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Nutrition: Nuts & Heart Health"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Cashew Nuts, Dry Roasted, Salted"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Cashews"
- National Academies of Sciences: "Macronutrients"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary Fats: Know Which Types to Choose"
- Mayo Clinic: "Carbohydrates: How Carbs Fit Into a Healthy Diet"
- Harvard Medical School: Use Glycemic Index to Help Control Blood Sugar