Why Do I Crave Cashews?

Cashews can be a delicious snack on their own or in trail mix, and they add fiber and unsaturated fats to recipes such as stir-fry and baked goods. A sudden craving for cashews, however, may indicate an underlying nutritional deficiency or medical condition. Work with your doctor to determine why you crave cashews and whether you need to take further steps to stay healthy.

A close-up of cashews in a bowl. (Image: etienne voss/iStock/Getty Images)

Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, affects many menstruating women. Common symptoms of PMS include depression, trouble sleeping, joint pain, fluid retention and food cravings. If your cashew cravings are due to PMS, your cravings will likely come at the same time each month but may vary slightly in their severity. Physical activity with your doctor's approval, eating high-fiber and complex carbohydrate foods, increasing your calcium intake and taking a multivitamin may help reduce symptoms of PMS, including your cashew cravings.

Magnesium Deficiency

A magnesium deficiency may lead you to crave nuts, such as cashews. Magnesium is essential for proper muscle function and strong bones, and deficiency can lead to high blood pressure, muscle cramps and insomnia. An ounce of cashews provides 83 milligrams of magnesium, or 21 percent of the daily value for this essential mineral. Chocolate is another good source of magnesium and a commonly craved food. Other sources of magnesium include dark green vegetables, other nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Addison's Disease

Males and females of all ages may have Addison's disease, or an adrenal insufficiency. Symptoms of the condition include gastrointestinal problems, irritability, weight loss, depression and salt craving. Cashews are naturally low in sodium, but you may interpret your salt craving as a craving for cashews if you normally eat salted cashews or eat cashews in salty snack mixes or in salty dishes, such as cashew chicken with soy sauce.

Stress

Emotional eating often includes high-calorie, fatty foods. Cashews are good sources of essential nutrients, such as fiber and potassium, but a single ounce has 157 calories and 12 grams of total fat. You may be more likely to turn to cashews as a comfort food if you have warm childhood memories of eating cashews. Emotional eating may be triggered by stressful conditions such as trouble at work, economic difficulties or relationship problems.

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