The American Heart Association has advocated nut consumption in the U.S. diet because of its positive effects on heart disease risk. Nuts such as cashews might also provide health benefits through their effects on digestion. Cashews provide a healthy dietary source of nutrients, including iron and magnesium. They are low in sugar, making them a good choice for a snack.
A 1 ounce serving of dry-roasted cashews contains 163 calories, providing a good source of protein with 4.34 grams. It might surprise you to learn that cashews contain no cholesterol. The fats they contain are heart-friendly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, with only a small amount of saturated fats. When you eat cashews, it will take about four to eight seconds for them to reach your stomach, where they will remain to digest for two to six hours -- longer than many other foods because of their protein content.
Cashews, like other nuts, are good sources of antioxidants that protect the the body from cellular damage caused by free radicals. The antioxidants in cashews might offer protective effects on the lining of your stomach. A 2010 study by Federal University of Ceará in Brazil examined the effects of cashews on gastric damage in experiments done with mice. Researchers found that cashew consumption reduced stomach damage from alcohol and prevented harmful changes in body chemistry caused by alcohol consumption.
Cashew consumption might also have positive effects on blood sugar. When you eat starches and sugars, glucose enters your bloodstream. This stimulates insulin release to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Excess sugar is stored in the muscles and liver. Diabetes describes a condition in which the body cannot properly process blood sugar. The effect of cashews on blood sugar might offer health benefits. A 2010 study by the Université de Montréal found that cashews enhanced glucose uptake in experiments done with rats. These findings mean cashews might complement the action of insulin, offering some promise as an anti-diabetic treatment.
The high calorie count of cashews might be a deterrent for including them in your diet because of possible weight gain, but you might be pleased to learn that consumption might not be as negative as you might think. A 2007 study by the University of Navarra in Spain found that participants consuming nuts twice a week had a reduced risk of gaining weight. The feelings of fullness from the fat and protein might leave you feeling satiated and less likely to overeat.
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- USDA: Nutrient Data Laboratory
- Chemo-Biological Interactions; Protective Effect of Anacardic Acids from Cashew on Ethanol-Induced Gastric Damage in Mice; T. Morais et al.
- Molecular Nutrition and Food Research; Hydro-Ethanolic Extract of Cashew Tree Nut and Its Principal Compound, Anacardic Acid, Stimulate Glucose Uptake in C2C12 Muscle Cells; L. Tedong et al.
- Obesity; Nut Consumption and Weight Gain in a Mediterranean Cohort: The SUN Study; M. Bes-Rastrollo et al.