How Are Cashews Good for You?

Searching for a healthy grab-and-go snack that's healthy and filling? Cashews to the rescue!

Although cashews are commonly thought of as nuts, technically they're seeds from the pear-shaped fruit that's produced by cashew trees. Knowing how nutritious and versatile cashews are, it comes as no surprise that they're one of the most widely consumed nuts in the world.

Consuming cashews can lower your risk of heart disease. (Image: Fydorov/iStock/GettyImages)

Tip

Consuming cashews can lower your risk of heart disease and are good for you in other ways as well. Consider enjoying them as a snack with dried fruit or chopping them up as a topping for a vibrant salad.

Cashews Are Nutrient Dense

Eating nuts, including cashews, is linked with a lower risk of heart disease. Cashews are bursting with healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and have been shown to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, according to a small study of 51 participants that was published in May 2017 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Those who eat nuts on a regular basis have been shown to have a much lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease. Cashews can help folks lose weight too.

One ounce of cashews is packed with 5.2 grams of protein but only 1.7 grams of sugar, according to the USDA. They pack a punch of minerals too, containing 82.9 milligrams of magnesium, which is 20 percent of the daily value (DV), and 1.6 milligrams of iron, which is 11 percent of the DV. Cashews also contain fiber, which helps you feel full and satiated.

Cashews also contain other nutrients, including:

  • 13 percent of the DV of phosphorus

  • 15 percent of the DV

    of zinc

  • 69 percent of the DV of copper

  • 20 percent of the DV of manganese

  • 10 percent of the DV of selenium

  • 10 percent of the DV of vitamin B1 (thiamin)

  • 5 percent of the DV of vitamin B5

  • 7 percent of the DV of vitamin B6

  • 8 percent of the DV of vitamin K

Cashews Contain Zero Cholesterol

Unlike animal products, nuts do not contain cholesterol. This is great news for those who want a healthy protein option without the cholesterol that's found in meat, dairy and eggs. Cholesterol particles can form deposits in the walls of the coronary arteries and other arteries throughout the body. This buildup of plaque can narrow arteries, leading to limited blood flow and increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

While eating animal products is a risk factor for developing too much LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, there are other factors to be aware of too. Obesity, lack of exercise, smoking and diabetes can also increase your risk of developing too much LDL cholesterol, according to Mayo Clinic.

Aging is also a risk factor; the older you get, the more difficult it becomes for your liver to remove LDL cholesterol from your body. Eating nuts, such as cashews, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds for protein, instead of eating animal products can help limit your risk.

Get Creative in the Kitchen

Eat raw, unsalted cashews, as is, in moderation and use your imagination to come up with other healthy ways to enjoy them. For example, you can mix cashews with other nuts and dried fruit for an easy snack or blend them with a pinch of sea salt and a few dashes of nutritional yeast for a Parmesan-like topping for spaghetti or baked potatoes. You'll get that addictive cheesy taste without adding any unnecessary animal fat or cholesterol to your meal.

Nuts also make a fantastic topping for a fresh, colorful salad. The next time you're in the kitchen creating a tasty salad, consider ditching slices of chicken or bacon bits and adding a few chopped cashews instead. Nuts can also be easily blended to create a healthy nut butter. When you're in control, you can avoid adding stabilizers, sugars and other ingredients commonly added to the nut butters sold in mainstream supermarkets.

A Helpful Plant-Based Food

Those who enjoy a plant-based diet often long for a treat that's both creamy and sweet, without animal products. Thanks to nuts and especially cashews, it's easy to satiate that desire. Cashews are naturally sweet, and when combined with a few other simple ingredients, they can be transformed into anything from vegan cheesecake to nondairy yogurt. Cashew milk is also a great dairy alternative for those who are lactose intolerant.

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