A popular ingredient finding its way into many Indiangravies, cashew – a plant originating from Brazil, is a nut high in minerals. The cashew tree grows up to exceptional heights having a rather irregular trunk. Hanging from the branches are large juicy apples at the bottom of which are attached the cashew nut. Made available round the year, the nuthas a great shelf life if stored properly. The nut and thefruit, both have multiple uses. The nut, often known as the poor man’s plantation although now it is sold for steep prices, is used to make delectable and rich curries and also roasted and eaten dry. Back when nomads had no idea how to consume the fruit, the nut was discarded while the fruit was given more importance. A book written by SP Malhotra, World Edible Nuts Economy, points out, “Natives also knew of many medicinal uses for the apple juice, bark and caustic seed oil that were later exploited by the Europeans.”
Contrary to the popular belief that it can make you gainfat, a considerable amount of cashews in your diet can provide you with many health benefits –
1. Heart Health
Studies consistently show that nut intake has a cholesterol-lowering effect, in the context of healthy diets, and there is emerging evidence of beneficial effects on oxidative stress, inflammation, and vascular reactivity. Cashewshelp lower LDL and increase the carrying capacity for HDL. HDL is responsible to absorb the cholesterol from the heart and take it to the liver where it can be broken down.
The study stated that nutrients in nuts, such as unsaturated fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants may confer heart-protective, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.
2. Prevents Blood Disease
The consumption of cashews on a regular basis and limited manner may help in avoiding blood diseases. Cashew nuts are rich in copper, which plays an important role in the elimination of free radicals from the body. Copper deficiency can lead to iron deficiencies such as anemia. Hence our diet should contain recommended quantity of copper. And cashew nuts are a good source.
3. Protects the Eye
In the urban environment matched with its excessive pollution, our eyes often suffer from various infections. Cashews contains a powerful antioxidant pigment called Zea Xanthin. This pigment is readily and directly absorbed by our retina, says nutritionist Anju Sood. This then forms a protective layer over our retina which prevents the harmful UV rays
4. Good for the Skin
Cashew nut oil is rich in selenium, zinc, magnesium, iron and phosphorous. Also, they are great sources of phytochemicals, proteins and antioxidants. The oil is derived from cashew seeds.The high percentage of selenium in cashews is not only good for your skin but helps prevent cancer as well.
5. Weight Loss
In comparison to diets excluding the intake of nuts, people consuming nuts on a moderate and regular basis lose weight faster. Based on the evidence from epidemiological and controlled clinical studies, nut consumption is not associated with higher body weight. The study done by the Journal of Nutrition states that the epidemiological evidence indicates consistently that nut consumers have a lower BMI than non-consumers. With respect to clinical studies, the evidence is nearly uniform that their inclusion in the diet leads to little or no weight gain. Moreover, nuts like cashews are packed with Omega 3 fatty acids that contribute to giving a boost to the metabolic process to burn excess fat. Nuts are a great snack for those who are looking to lose weight as they are nutritious and tend to keep you full for a longer time.
6. Source of Dietary Fibres
According to studies, cashew nuts have a great percentage of dietary fibers. The two essential dietary fibres required by our body are, oleic acid and palmitic acid. These fibers are not produced by our body hence they need to be consumed externally. Cashew nuts are good sources of these fibers. Dietary fibers help digest food better, however excessive consumption may cause bloating and significant intestinal gas production. Consumption of nuts like cashews have been related to decreased incidences of several digestive diseases.