Cashew nuts, also known as kaju nuts, are one of the most consumed nuts in the world and the third most commonly produced tree nut. Cashew nuts are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and various other nutrients. Nuts like these can help support weight loss and are also able to improve other aspects of your health.
Read more: 9 Healthy Nuts That May Help You Live Longer
Cashew Nut Nutrition Facts
A serving of nuts is typically considered to be between an ounce and an ounce and a half. An ounce of cashews is equivalent to approximately 18 cashew nuts. According to the USDA, an ounce (28 grams) of raw cashew nuts has 157 calories, 12.5 grams of fat, 5.2 grams of protein and 8.6 grams of carbohydrates (0.9 grams come from fiber). This means that there are 7.6 net carbs per ounce of raw cashews. Cashews also contain various nutrients, including:
- 11 percent of the daily value (DV) for iron
- 20 percent of the DV for magnesium
- 13 percent of the DV for phosphorus
- 15 percent of the DV for zinc
- 69 percent of the DV for copper
- 20 percent of the DV for manganese
- 10 percent of the DV for selenium
- 10 percent of the DV for vitamin B1 (thiamin)
- 5 percent of the DV for vitamin B5
- 7 percent of the DV for vitamin B6
- 8 percent of the DV for vitamin K
Cashew nuts are a good source of omega fatty acids, with 13 percent of the daily value for omega-6 fatty acids and small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, as well. Cashews also contain small amounts of vitamin E, B-complex vitamins, potassium and calcium.
According to an August 2015 study in the Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, cashew nuts also contain a variety of other nutrients, including lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants and other beneficial bioactive compounds.
Cashews are often consumed in a variety of forms. They're commonly dry-roasted or turned into a form of nut butter. You should be aware that unsalted, roasted cashews have a few more calories (163 calories) compared to raw cashews. They also have a bit more fat and carbohydrates (13.2 grams and 9.3 grams per ounce, respectively) and a bit less protein (4.3 grams per ounce).
Cashew butter has the least nutrients but most calories of any pure cashew product, with 167 calories per ounce. Cashew butter has the most fat (14 grams per ounce), about the same amount of protein (5 grams per ounce) and a bit less carbohydrate (7.8 grams per ounce). In cashew butter form, a healthy serving size is considered to be two tablespoons.
Health Benefits of Cashew Nuts
Nuts are considered healthy snacks. According to the study in the Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, tree nuts like cashew nuts may be able to improve bone mineral density and mental health and support weight loss. Cashew nuts can also help decrease your risk of issues like metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Unfortunately, many people avoid these healthy foods because they are rich in calories and fat. According to the Cleveland Clinic, an ounce-sized serving of nuts typically contains between 160 and 200 calories. In most cases, nuts are primarily fat, with between 80 to 90 percent fat content.
Fortunately, nuts have a substantial amount of healthy fats, which are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like omega fatty acids. Unlike unhealthy fats, healthy fats can actually help improve your cholesterol and heart health. In fact, consuming just five ounces of nuts per week can substantially reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and related problems.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends that most people consume about 65 grams of fat per day. Most of this fat should come from healthy fats, rather than unhealthy fats (like saturated fat or trans fat), which means cashew nuts are perfectly healthy to incorporate into your diet. However, unlike many other fatty foods, tree nuts like cashew nuts won't negatively impact your weight.
Losing Weight With Cashew Nuts
According to a July 2014 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tree nuts take a lot of energy for your body to digest, and your body may not even absorb all of their calories. They also help you feel fuller for longer, unlike unhealthy snacks, thanks to their fat, protein, and fiber content. However, tree nuts alone won't promote weight loss. Cashew nuts are healthiest when you eat them instead of unhealthy fats, rather than with unhealthy fats.
Cashew nuts can help support weight loss by acting as alternatives to unhealthier ingredients in your foods. Consider topping your salad with toasted cashew nuts, rather than saturated fat-rich bacon bits, for instance, or carbohydrate-rich croutons. Cashew nuts also make for a convenient snack and are much better for you than chocolate, gummy bears, potato chips and other commonly consumed processed or junk foods.
Although cashew nuts may seem boring compared to potato chips or pretzels, you can even add a bit of garlic salt or other spices to change up cashew nuts' flavor. Harvard Health Publishing suggests adding nuts, including cashews, to cooked veggies or salads — but no more than a handful. This means that about an ounce of cashew nuts is the ideal snack to incorporate into a healthy diet.
Read more: 18 Fat-Rich Foods That Are Good for You
Cashew Nuts and Keto Diets
People who alter the macronutrients in their diets don't consume the USDA-recommended amounts of fat, carbohydrates and protein. In fact, a popular form of weight loss is to try low-carb or ketogenic diets, which are high-fat diets. Essentially, people consume more fat, fewer carbohydrates and about the same amount of protein to support weight loss.
High-fat foods like fatty meat, fatty fish, oils, butters, coconut and avocado are very important for people following low-carb and ketogenic diets. Since nuts and seeds have high fat content and are filled with essential nutrients like fiber, they're also a recommended food for people on these diets to consume.
Cashew nuts can help support weight loss as part of a low-carb and ketogenic diet. However, they're often not people's first choice of nut. This is because other nuts are higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates compared to cashew nuts.
Unless you're on a fairly liberal, low-carb diet, 7.6 net carbs is usually considered excessive for these diets. If you're on a stricter low-carb or ketogenic diet and are looking for a nut that can help support your weight loss, try walnuts or pine nuts. These nuts have more fiber and fewer carbohydrates.
- FDA: "Total Fat"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "10 Superfoods to Boost a Healthy Diet"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Nutrition: Nuts and Heart Health"
- Mayo Clinic: "Nuts and Your Heart: Eating Nuts for Heart Health"
- Food Science and Nutrition: "Nutritional Composition of Raw Fresh Cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.) Kernels From Different Origin"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Comparison of Dry-Roasted Cashews, Cashews (Raw), and Cashew Butter"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Comparison of Dried Pine Nuts and Walnuts"
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "A Review of the Effects of Nuts on Appetite, Food Intake, Metabolism, and Body Weight"