Cashew is a super nut belonging to the family of Anacardiaceae and is originally native to the coastal areas of north-eastern Brazil. This kidney shaped seeds are widely cultivated in places with tropical climates. Apart from Brazil, cashew is extensively grown in Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania and India. The nut is stuck to the bottom of the fruit called the cashew apple and all the parts of cashew have different uses in Brazil, Asia and Africa. There are many health benefits of cashew which includes a healthy heart, strong nerve and muscle function. It helps in the formation of red blood cells and also aids an improved bone and oral health. Cashew also provides relief from diabetes, anaemia and gallstones and helps improve the overall immune system with its antioxidant quality.
Cashews are nutritious and are a strong source of power of proteins and essential minerals like copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, manganese and zinc. There is small quantity of sodium also present in cashew. It is rich with vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin B1(thiamine), vitamin B2(riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), vitamin B6, vitamin K (phylloquinone) and folate. Cashew is a rich source of oleic acid and it offers a good quantity of monosaturated fat and low amounts of polyunsaturated fats. If consumed properly, cashew will not offer harmful cholesterol to the body.
There are many health benefits which the cashew can offer which can work incredibly in the human body. By adding cashew one can prevent heart diseases because cashew is a good source of healthy dietary fats essential for the body. The dietary fats present in the body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K and vitamin E and produce fatty acids needed for the development of the brain and blood clotting. The dietary fats present in cashew include monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA). MUFA and PUFA are good for the heart and it helps reduce bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) if consumed in proper amounts, even for diabetic patients.
LDL cholesterol is bad for the health and it can increase if saturated fats are consumed excessively. It poses a big threat to people suffering from cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Consuming unsaturated fats over saturated fats boost the level of HDL cholesterol, reduce triglyceride levels and in turn lower the blood pressure. Including nuts like cashew and other items like fish and vegetable oil like olive oil and canola oil in the regular diet provide these healthy unsaturated fats to the body.
High Presence of Magnesium
Magnesium presence is high in cashew and this is important for the healthy development of bones, tissues, muscles and other organs of the body. The presence of magnesium in the diet means it helps to maintain blood pressure in the body. It helps to enhance the immune system, maintain nerve functions and also keeps the bones strong. Magnesium is also helpful in the metabolic functions and it influences the insulin activities and help control the blood sugar level in the body. Magnesium deficiency changes the metabolism of calcium and the hormones responsible of its regulation. Cashew contains very low sugar in it and there is no harmful cholesterol present in it and this makes cashew safe for diabetic patient and it also help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Cashew is effective for people undergoing treatments for tumour and cancer because of the presence of many antioxidants like anacardic acid, cardanols and cardols. Cashew when it is ground can be absorbed easily as a protein and this form is also safe for the patients. Being rich in copper, cashew helps in the metabolism of iron, helps in the formation of red blood cells (RBC) and also helps in keeping the bones and immune system healthy. It is important for the nervous and skeletal system of the body. Deficiency of copper in the body invites diseases like osteoporosis, irregular heartbeats and anaemia. Cashew supply phosphorous, which is necessary for the healthy development of teeth and bones and it also, assists in protein synthesis, absorption of carbohydrates and fats and the maintenance of cellular health.
Great Source of Dietary Iron
Cashew being a great source of dietary iron is very important for carrying oxygen around the body and support the functioning of enzymes and the immune system. Iron deficiency in the diet can lead to anaemia, fatigue and bigger vulnerability to infections. Consuming cashew regularly can help to lower the risk of formation of gallstones. Gallstones are stone like deposits which consists of cholesterol which gets collected in the gallbladder. Zinc which contains in the cashews plays an important role in strengthening the immune systems against microbial infections, protein synthesis and healing of wounds. Cashew is also important during the pregnancy period for the growth of the baby and developmental years of childhood to sustain a steady state of their body.
Cashew nuts and apples are used for culinary uses all over the world. The nuts are tasty and very much in demand and the nuts can be enjoyed wither roasted or plain, with or without salt. Cashew nuts are added to many vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies and different confectionaries like cookies, ice cream and biscuits. The cashew tree offers a enormous treasure of medicinal and industrial uses also and its applications are popular in Guyana and all over the Amazon. Liquid made from the cashew nut shell is a by-product obtained while processing cashews and is used widely in materials used for industrial usage. It is a source of naturally available phenols and is raw material which is used in the preparation of drugs, paints, plastic, insecticides and anti-termite treatment for timber, and because of its medicinal properties and due to the presence of anacardic acids, cashew nut shell liquid has an antibiotic effect and is used in the treatment for sore tooth, ringworm, warts, scurvy, leprosy and elephantiasis.
Cashew Bark and Leaf
The other parts of the cashew tree which are in use popularly are the cashew bark and leaf. Both the bark and leaf possess medicinal properties and is used widely as a remedy for both colic and diarrhoea. Cashew leaf extract is used to reduce blood sugar and blood pressure levels. The oil extracted from the seeds is useful in the preparation of insecticides. The infusion of the bark of the cashew tree has astringent properties and is used as mouthwash for treating oral ulcers and also as a remedy for treating sore throat and influenza. The leaves of cashew tree when boiled with water is a good anti-pyretic and is used for treatment of body aches and pains.
Cashew apple acquires anti-bacterial properties and is very effective in the treatment of stomach ulcers and gastritis caused generally by H. pylori bacteria. The cashew apple juice is rich in vitamin C and is an effective anti-scurvy. The juice is widely used in the cosmetic industry because of the presence of anti-oxidants and is widely used in the manufacture of different types of creams and shampoos. The extract of cashew contains anacardic acid which is a strong antioxidant and it is useful in limiting the pigmentation effects of aging and also eradicating cancer cells. The fruits of the cashew tree are used for treating infant’s thrush and sore mouth. People of the Amazon use tea prepared from the bark of the cashew tree and the cashew apple juice for chronic dysentery and also as an anti-diarrheal cure. Cashew is said to be having sudorific or sweat inducing properties and the juice extracted from the apple of cashew can also be used as an ointment for aches of rheumatism and neuralgia.
South Americans use cashew to prepare jams, curries and sauces and is also fermented into making vinegar and liquor. It has acidic taste because of the layer of skin which can lead to allergic reactions on the throat and tongue. It can only be used after steaming or boiling for few minutes. Cashew oil is used commonly for curing cracked heels and powdered cashew seeds are used as anti-venom and are used for treating snake bites. The gum extracted from the cashew stem is used in the manufacture of varnish for wood works and books. Cashew may create some kind of allergy for some. Those who are allergic to tree nuts should not consume cashew nuts. Generally allergic reactions caused by tree nuts like cashew, walnuts and pistachios can be gentle or severe. If any kinds of allergies are developed after consuming cashew it is better a consult a doctor. Contact dermatitis is a skin condition caused as a result of the skin coming in contact with the allergen. Hives or swelling can develop around the mouth or other soft parts that have come in contact with the nuts or their shells. The anacardic acid in the cashew is the reason for vesication of the cashew nut shell liquid and this can lead to severe skin rashes and allergies. The oxalate salts present in cashew may interfere with the absorption of calcium in the body and the accumulated calcium may lead to formation of kidney stones