Benefits Of Cashew Nuts (Kaju): Everything You Need To Know
Do cashews (kaju) make you put on weight? Rich in fiber and loaded with iron, moderate consumption of cashews is, in fact, linked with aiding weight loss by quickly burning fat, and increasing the supply of oxygen throughout the body. Read all about the benefits and side effects of cashew nuts in this article.
Considered to be one of the most popular dry-fruits, the benefits of cashew nuts or kaaju (काजू) are widely known and this is one dry-fruit that is consumed in all corners of this world. Cashew nuts grow on the cashew tree, which is found in tropical regions. Originating in Central America, the cashew nut first became a part of the European export products by the Portuguese colonists in the mid- 16th century. But, now most Asian countries, including India and Vietnam, have made their mark on the list of major cashew nut producers.
It has been proven through various studies and research that eating a handful of mixed nuts and seeds can help lower the risk of many diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. There is no doubt that the beneficial nature of cashews has contributed to its rise in demand. Though a high-calorie dry-fruit, cashews when consumed in controlled amounts can provide a host of nutrients to the body and boost our immune system.
Cashews not only form a part of several desserts and decadent sweets in the Indian culture, but several curries also use cashew paste as a base. Sometimes, these off-white, c-shaped dry fruits get a bad name and people associate them with weight gain and fat accumulation. While excessive consumption of cashew nuts can lead to unnecessary calorie-intake, the fact remains that we stand to gain more than lose from cashew nut nutrition.
We tell you some cashew benefits that you should look for. These benefits of cashew nuts will make you want to grab some now!
Did you know the cashew does not grow inside the fruit like other nuts? The cashew nut is on the outside of the fruit, hanging on the base of the fruit called the ‘cashew apple’.
Watch: Health Benefits Of Cashew Nuts | Benefits Of Kaju
Health Benefits Of Cashew Nuts
Cashews or Kaju is a dry-fruit that you may very easily find tucked inside some cabinet of your kitchen. But, most importantly, cashew has become an important part of our culture, as it is distributed during the festive season for the purpose of gifting.
Did you know that besides being a part of our tradition, if cashew becomes a part of our diet, it can be benefiting for our health as well as our brain?
From adding healthy fats to our diet to the prevention of diabetes, here is a list of health benefits of cashew nuts or Kaju.
1. Helps Boost Digestion
Cashew nut is a snack that is low in sugar and filled with vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, and magnesium, making it a small package with a big surprise.
One of the many advantages of eating cashews is their ability to aid digestion.
Packed with omega-3s, the benefits of cashew nuts include boosting our body’s metabolism, increasing the rate of absorption, and quickly burning fat.
2. Good For Heart Health | Helps Lower ‘Bad’ Cholesterol Levels
If you are thinking about cashew benefits and want to add cashews to your daily diet, then you’ll be pleased to know that cashews are a rich source of healthy fatty acids and contain zero cholesterol. Thus, the consumption of cashew is proven to be good for the health of your heart as it reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Cashews can also help regulate blood pressure levels and reduce bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and increase the capacity of HDL or good cholesterol levels.
3. Cashews May Help Lower The Risk Of Diabetes
The nutrient content in cashew, which consists of very few milligrams of natural sugar and no bad cholesterol, makes it a very good choice for people who are suffering from pre-diabetes (A stage where the blood sugar levels are high but not as high as in diabetes).
According to research by the Federation of American Societies For Experimental Biology (FASEB), people with a long-term high nut intake may help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
4. Kaju is Rich In Antioxidants–Help Boost Immune System
Antioxidant-rich cashew nuts can be quite beneficial when ingested. The antioxidants help reduce the free radicals and oxidative stress in our body.
These antioxidants help in forming a protective layer over the cell walls. Our immunity is increased, as they make it harder for the external pathogens to enter the cell walls.
The high content of antioxidant enzymes in nuts like cashews protects the cells from free radical damage.
Due to the high levels of selenium present in cashews, eating some can also help prevent cancer. Cashews also contain high levels of lutein, folic acid, and zeaxanthin. Oleic acid and palmitic acid are not produced by our body and need to be consumed through external sources like cashews.
5. Increases the RBC (Red Blood Cell) Concentration
As we know, our blood contains various cells such as red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Out of these, the red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen to all the organs. Cashew, being a good source of iron, helps in the formation of these cells and prevents your body from iron deficiency which might cause diseases like anemia.
The iron and copper in cashews work together to optimize our blood health, strengthen our nerves and immune system and manage anemia.
6. Cashews Benefits in Aiding Muscle Growth
As cashew is a rich source of protein, it is also responsible for aiding muscle growth and providing strength to our nervous system. Protein is said to be the building block of every cell in our body and provides the energy required for daily chores. Also read about the top 6 benefits of a protein-rich diet.
7. Reduces Blood Pressure
Since cashew is loaded with minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium, it balances the effects of salt in our bloodstream. Excessive salt intake makes it difficult for the excess water present in the cell walls to get discharged, which causes the blood pressure to rise.
However, the consumption of minerals works as an antidote to the effects of salt, thus allowing the excess water to easily pass through our bladder and regulating our blood pressure.
8. Improves Bone Health
The building block of our bones is calcium, and as it happens, cashew is also considered to be a great source of calcium. During the removal of excess water from our system, some of the calcium from our bones is also removed, but it is later replaced.
However, if the amount of calcium removed is more than the amount of calcium replaced, we would end up with weak bones. Since cashew is a great source of calcium, it helps in maintaining bone density.
9. Helps Promote Oral Health
Apart from being good for our bones, the high calcium content present in cashew is also responsible for achieving a healthy set of teeth. When it comes to dry-fruits, cashew does not shy away from one of the most beneficial ones, and if I might add, it is the tastiest among all.
10. Cashew Nuts Benefits For Skin
One benefit of eating cashew nuts daily is that it is great for your skin. Kaju is rich in phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and iron, plus proteins and antioxidants like selenium, making it great for your skin health.
Consuming cashew ‘milk’ or cashews can help boost the natural production of collagen, resulting in flawless skin.
Nutrition Facts Of Cashew Nuts (Kaju)
|Nutrition Chart (Per 100 grams)||Amount (Unit)|
|Total Dietary Fiber||3.3 grams|
|Vitamin E||0.3 mg|
|Vitamin K||9.5 mcg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.1 mg|
Information as per USDA.
Side-Effects Of Cashew Nuts | Disadvantages
Cashew nuts are consumed in large quantities all across this world. Thus, it is also important to note any adverse effects of eating large amounts of cashew. While there are advantages of cashew nuts, cashews are associated with some side effects too.
Some of these ill-effects caused by the unregulated consumption of cashew nuts are:
1. Disruption Of A Balanced Diet
As we have discussed, cashews are high in protein. Consuming too much of it would result in a high protein and mineral diet, which may be harmful, especially without the balanced intake of other vital nutrients. Thus, it is important for us to keep our consumption of cashews regulated and in tandem with other nutrients to maintain an overall healthy and balanced diet.
2. Consumption of Excessive Kaju Aids In Weight Gain
Though cashews have quite a low concentration of sugar, it is the calorie content that one should worry about, as it is quite high. Apart from being high in calories, cashews are also packed with unsaturated fat, increasing the risk of weight gain.
But contradicting this is a study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004. According to the study, women who did not eat a certain amount of nuts had more chances of gaining weight than women who ate nuts 2-3 times per week.
3. Increases The Risk Of Kidney Stones
Cashew, being rich in minerals such as iron and magnesium must be taken in a very mindful quantity as a high mineral diet can form residue over your kidneys, as most of these minerals might not get absorbed and might further result in the development of stones in your kidneys.
4. Allergy Symptoms
Being allergic to cashew is quite common across the globe. The chances are that if you are allergic to nuts, you are also probably allergic to cashews. So, it is advised that you check with your physician before grabbing a handful of cashews, as it might lead to other troubling effects such as difficulty in swallowing or breathing.
How To Use Cashew Nuts | Recipes
There is no doubt that cashew is the tastiest dry-fruit among the rest, however, if you are looking for a place where you could find a better way to make your meal crazy delicious and healthy using this dry-fruit, you have come to the right place. Here are some phenomenal dishes that hero cashew nuts.
1. Cookies And Biscuits
Cashews are commonly used to make decadent cookies and biscuits. Cashews make a great base ingredient for baked goodies such as cookies and cakes.
However, the recent trend in the market has shown a significant increase in the demand for cashew-based cookies. It is important to note that too much of it could increase your blood sugar level as the cookie batter may contain sugar.
2. Indian Sweets
Decorated with a thin layer of edible silver foil, Kaju barfi is one of the most popular Indian desserts that use cashew nuts as its base ingredient alongside milk. It is made by soaking the cashew nuts in water overnight and then grinding them the next morning before mixing with thick milk, sugar, saffron, and other ingredients.
3. Rich Gravies
Cashew nuts are mostly, especially in the Northern belt of India, cooked and eaten as part of curries. One such example is a dish called Kaju Butter Masala which is a cashew nuts-based recipe. Most Mughlai gravies contain kaju paste (cashew paste) which helps to increase the richness of the dish. The cashew nut paste has a thick, cream-like consistency and tastes great. Avoid using cashew paste regularly as it can make your digestive system feel very heavy.
Cashews also taste great in a homemade matar-paneer or makhana-matar.
4. Cashews In Trail Mix And Namkeens
Cashew nuts open up a brilliant flavor portal when added to trail mixes and homemade namkeens. Most popular ‘Navrattan’ mixtures also have cashews in abundance. If you consume a single serving of this namkeen, we can assure you it won’t be your last. You always end up going for more again and again.
5. Cashews As Bar Snacks
Roasted or fried cashew nuts sprinkled with zesty chaat masala or light salt are perfect as a bar snack. You can give it a sweet twist too by caramelizing them in jaggery and sesame seeds, making it perfect for winters!
6. Cashews In An Oriental Stir Fry
Adding a handful of cashews in a vegetable, tofu, or chicken stir-fry is quite common. Cashew nut chicken with a spicy sauce is quite delicious as it is or with some fried rice.
7. Cashew Pesto
Pesto is associated with a nutty taste and a vibrant green color. Swap pine nuts with cashews to make an Italian pesto, which can be added to pasta dishes, spread on sandwiches, and even used as a dip.
8. Energy Bars With Cashews
This is for all the fitness-obsessed men and women! Energy bars are a must for anyone who has a strict workout regime, and adding some nuts to an energy bar is the perfect way to amp up energy levels and promote heart health through healthy fats. Cashew nut consumption through an energy bar is a perfectly healthy way. Cashews, peanuts, and almonds are some nuts that can be added to energy bars or a granola ball for a sweet power-packed post-workout snack.
Including cashew nut (kaju) in your diet is quite easy to do, in fact, that is what adds up to the popularity of the cashew nut.
Importance Of Cashew Nut In A Nutshell
Finally, if you choose to eat cashews or even add them to your meal, you can never go wrong after knowing the amazing health benefits of Cashew Nuts. In fact, the only thing cashews can do for you when you add them to your dish is to increase your meal’s nutritional value. However, as you are now probably aware of the ill-effects caused by an unorganized consumption of cashew nut, we trust that you will eat it responsibly.
Please ask for medical advice from a doctor or a certified nutritionist before making any drastic changes in your diet, especially if you have any chronic medical conditions or are on any long-term medicine.
FAQs About The Cashew Nut
1. How to eat cashew nuts?
You can eat them as it is, or roast them with a very little amount of ghee and rock salt. You could add them in your bakery goods, Indian sweet dishes, curries to make them creamy, or add them in your trail mixes. This nut is a great bar snack. Remember, cashew nuts are high in calories, make sure you don’t have a lot of them.
2. How many cashew nuts can I eat in a day?
As per Nutrition Australia, a healthy daily intake of nuts is 30 grams, which is a small handful. It is always good to mix up all the nuts to ensure you don’t end up binging on just one nut, especially cashew nut, which is high in calories.
3. Is it bad to eat cashews every day?
Cashew nuts contain good fats, so it is absolutely okay to have cashew nuts as a part of your healthy diet. However, what you need to note is that you shouldn’t be eating too many cashews as they could lead to various health problems.
4. Are raw cashew nuts poisonous?
Raw cashews are not safe to eat. Raw cashews contain a chemical called urushiol, which is also found in poison ivy or poison oak. This chemical can cause an itchy skin reaction. Raw cashews and cashew nuts with a shell are not to be eaten.
5. Do cashews contain copper?
Cashews are also a good source of copper. The copper present in cashew oil can help make your hair shiny and smooth. Not only that, the copper present in cashews can help make your bones healthy. According to medical news today, one ounce of cashews contains 622 micrograms of copper.
6. Are cashews good for the gallbladder?
Some studies suggest that intake of nuts like cashews and peanuts can help reduce the risk of gallstones. The pain associated with gallstones is terrible; please consult an expert before continuing any fixed diet.
Disclaimer – This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information before making any dietary changes.