Benefits Of Cashew Nuts, Nutrition Facts, And Side Effects

From boosting heart health to immunity, consuming this tasty nut has many advantages.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Geeta Dharmatti, RD Dr. Geeta Dharmatti Dr. Geeta DharmattiRD linkedin_icon
Written by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Experience: 8 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition Aparna Mallampalli BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition Experience: 5 years
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Cashew nuts are a popular snack choice for many. These delicious nuts are loaded with many beneficial nutrients. Cashews benefit your health in many ways. For instance, they manage blood pressure, aid in weight loss, and cut down the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

In addition, these nuts are rich in proteins, essential minerals, and vitamins that promote your body’s healthy functioning.

These tasty nuts have been the perfect choice in culinary uses, especially in sweet and savory dishes and for making nut butter, vegan milk, and baked goods.

Although cashew nuts are considered nuts, technically, they are not. They are seeds of Anacardium occidentale, a native Brazilian tree that is evergreen.

In the article below, we will learn all about cashew nuts, their nutritional profile, cashew benefits, their possible side effects, and precautions to take while consuming them. Scroll down to know more!

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Cashew Nut

What Is It?
A nutritious and edible seed of the evergreen Anacardium occidentale tree.

What Are Its Benefits?
It boosts heart health and immunity, helps manage blood pressure and diabetes, aids weight loss, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, improves skin and hair health, and may prevent gallstones.

Who Can Use It?
All except individuals who are allergic to it or have a history of kidney stones.

How Often?
Not more than 25-30 of cashew nuts per day.

Caution
May cause vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea in case of excess consumption. Common allergic symptoms include swelling of the mouth and difficulty in swallowing and breathing.

Nutritional Profile Of Cashew Nuts

Cashew nuts are considered to be one of the most nutritious foods in the world despite being rich in calories and low in fiber as they are packed with healthy fats, vitamins, and antioxidants. They contain many essential fatty acids that are beneficial for the body (1).

One ounce (28.3 g) of cashew nuts contains 157 calories, 8.5 g of carbohydrates, 5.1g of protein, 12.4 g of fat, 0.3 mg of vitamin E, 9.5 mcg of vitamin K, 0.1 mg of vitamin B6, 10.4 g of calcium, 3.4 mg of sodium, 187 mg of potassium, 83 mg of magnesium, and 7 µg of folate.

Since cashew nuts contain so many amazing nutrients, they are purported to provide a host of health benefits. Check out a few cashew nut benefits in the next section.

15 Health Benefits Of Cashew Nuts

1. Boosts Heart Health

Compared to other nuts such as walnuts and almonds, cashews are low in fat and cholesterol and high in nutrients (2).

In fact, they are rich in phytosterolsi  Natural compounds found in plants that help prevent heart attack and stroke by lowering cholesterol. , phenolic compounds, and oleic acid (1). Thus, it could be extremely beneficial for the heart. A study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends taking nuts of all sorts – including cashew nuts – in low doses to your daily diet as it can prevent ischemic heart diseases and cardiovascular diseases (3).

Regular consumption of healthy unsaturated fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (MUFAi  Short for monounsaturated fatty acid, a type of dietary fat with a single carbon double bond (occurring between two carbon atoms). and PUFAi  Polyunsaturated fatty acids are needed for brain function and cell growth, and they contain more than one double bond. ), has the ability for cardiovascular disease prevention, even in people suffering from diabetes(4). These fatty acids are found in abundance in cashew nuts (1). The key is to consume them in moderation as cashews are rich in calories.

A meta-analysis of 14 studies has found that the risk of coronary heart disease is 37% lower in people who consume nuts more than four times per week compared to those who never or seldom consume nuts. However, this claim needs to be experimentally validated (5).

2. Lowers High Blood Pressure

Doctor checking a patient's blood pressure level
Image: Shutterstock

Cashew nuts are rich in healthy unsaturated fats and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and L-arginine (1).
According to a 12-week study conducted on Asian Indians with type 2 diabetes, the consumption of cashew nut can reduce systolic blood pressure and increase HDL (good) cholesterol without having a negative effect on body weight, glycemia, or other lipid variables (6), (7).

Cashews also contain an amino acid called L-arginine (2). L-arginine can help reduce blood pressure as it is a precursor to nitric oxide (NO), which is a vasodilator (8).

3. May Boost Your Immunity

Cashew nuts are rich in zinc (1). Zinc is an immune-boosting compound that is vital for basic cell processes such as cell division, transcription, and regulation. It also plays a role in certain immune processes such as cytokine production and phagocytosisi  A process by which a cell uses its plasma membrane to engulf large particles, important for nutrition in unicellular organisms. (9). Regular intake of cashews can help in reaching the recommended daily allowance for zinc. It also gives an energy boost and improves brain function.

4. An Excellent Source Of Antioxidants

Cashew nuts are considered healthy nuts as they are rich in antioxidants such as tocopherols (1). Tocopherols help eliminate free radicals and protect our cells from cell damage caused by oxidative stress  (2), (10).

Cashew milk contains plant sterols, which are natural antioxidants that help strengthen the immune system and prevent the onset of chronic diseases (11).

5. May Prevent Gallstones

Frequent nut consumption can reduce the risk of developing gallstones (2). Gallstones are hard deposits of cholesterol and other minerals. Since cashews have the ability to lower levels of cholesterol, they may also help in preventing the formation of gallstones (3). However, there is no scientific evidence to prove the same.

A study conducted by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women who eat 5 oz of nuts per week are at a reduced risk of cholecystectomy (a surgical procedure to remove your gallbladder) than women who consume less than 1 oz of nuts per week (12).

6. May Be Good For Skin And Hair Health

Cashew nuts may keep skin and hair healthy
Image: Shutterstock

Cashew nuts are high in antioxidants, copper, magnesium, iron, and selenium (1), (2). Antioxidants scavenge harmful chemicals and repair the tissues. Thus, they help improve the health and appearance of your skin.

Copper improves the production of elastin and collagen (13). Collagen is an integral structural protein that is responsible for the elasticity of your skin and hair. Including collagen-boosting foods such as cashews in your daily diet can help keep your skin glowing and hair healthy.

7. May Help Strengthen Bones

Cashew is an essential nut for better bone health as it is rich in proteins and minerals such as magnesium and copper (1). Copper helps in keeping your joints flexible by synthesizing collagen. It also helps in the formation of bones along with magnesium (14). Therefore, eating a few cashew nuts every day may help strengthen your bones.

8. May Prevent Macular Degeneration

Cashews contain zeaxanthin and lutein, which are important antioxidants (1). Xanthophylls such as zeaxanthin and lutein significantly increase macular pigment, chromatic contrast, and photo stress recovery time (15). Thus, consuming cashews regularly may help in keeping your eyes healthy.

9. May Help In Managing Weight Loss

Cashew nuts may help iwth weight loss.
Image: Shutterstock

Cashew nuts, though rich in calories, do not increase weight when consumed in moderation, they are satiety foods in nature, and consuming them as snacks can reduce hunger pangs. Studies done on 51,188 women during a period of 8 years have shown that including nuts in the diet can reduce the risk of gaining weight (16). There are various hypotheses behind this claim though no experimental evidence is available.

One theory suggests that since cashew nuts are rich in nutrients and healthy fats that reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and the risk of heart disease (factors connected to obesity), they may be helpful in weight management by association
(17).

Cashew nuts also curb hunger pangs and fill you up for a longer time, thus preventing you from binge eating (17). These nuts not only help in weight management and bone health but also it promote muscle building.

10. May Prevent Cancer

In general, studies have shown that regular nut consumption reduces the risk of cancer (18). Cashew nuts are rich in antioxidants compounds such as anacardic acid, cardanols, and cardols that may help reduce the risk of cancer (19).

A study conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that adolescent girls who eat nuts regularly are a lower risk of developing breast cancer (20).

The inositol and anacardic acid in cashew nuts may help fight cancer and increase the chances of survival by inducing cell cycle arrest and apoptosisi  A programmed cell death that occurs in multicellular organisms to eliminate unwanted or damaged cells. and inhibiting cell proliferation and metastasisi  A term used to describe the spread of cancer or a tumor to different parts of the body from its original site. (21).

11. May Help Manage And Prevent Diabetes

Interestingly, though cashew nuts are high in calories, they have been reported to benefit people with diabetes. A study has shown that the long-term consumption of cashew nuts may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by enhancing glycolysisi  A series of chemical reactions that extracts energy by converting glucose into three-carbon molecules called pyruvate. and increasing glucose uptake (22). However, it is recommended to consume only 4-5 cashews per day in such cases.

Cashews are cholesterol-free and have been reported to lower blood pressure and cholesterol in people with diabetes (7).

Cashew nuts are also rich in polyphenolsi  Naturally occurring compounds found in fruits like apples, cherries, and berries that protect tissues from oxidative stress. that can help improve the gut microbiome and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes (23).

12. May Promote Nerve Health

Fatty acids help in the formation and functioning of the myelin sheaths of neurons (24). The fatty acids present in cashews may help with the same.

Cashews are also a rich source of magnesium (1). Magnesium helps maintain nerve function (25).

13. Reduces The Risk of Anemia

Cashew nuts are rich in both iron and copper (1). These minerals are essential for the proper functioning of the circulatory system. Iron deficiency is a common cause of anemia, and incorporating cashew nuts in your daily diet can help prevent it.

14. May Reduce The Risk Of Hemorrhagic Stroke

A study published in the Caspian Journal of Internal Medicine found that patients with hemorrhagic stroke have lower levels of magnesium in their body as compared to ischemic patients (26). Eating cashews may help improve magnesium levels as 1 portion contains 82.8 mg of magnesium (1). However, studies are warranted to understand the link between cashew consumption and hemorrhagic stroke.

15. May Improve Digestion

Research suggests that the high protein and fiber content in cashew nut extract may help improve nutrient digestion and overall gut health (27). However, more studies are warranted to understand the association between digestion and cashew consumption.

Isn’t it fascinating how great cashew nuts are for your health? So, let’s check out how you can add it to your diet.

How To Eat Cashew Nuts The Healthy Way

Cashew milk is a healthy and nutrient-rich alternative to cow/buffalo milk. It is popular among vegans and people suffering from lactose intolerance. Since cashews contain many essential fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, and plant sterols, you can reap their nutritional benefits by consuming cashew milk or cashew cream.

Cashew milk, cashew cream, and cashew butter are interesting ways to enjoy the potential health benefits of cashews. Cashew products are dairy-free substitutes that can be used in smoothies and gravies to improve their texture.

Cashews can be eaten raw or roasted, but make sure to eat processed nuts as
they do not contain harmful toxins.

Now, let’s check out how to make cashew milk and cashew butter.

I. Cashew Milk

Cashew milk
Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

  • 2 cups cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • A fine muslin cloth

Process

  1. Blend the cashews in a food processor and add water for desired consistency.
  2. Filter the milk using a clean muslin cloth.
  3. Store the cashew milk in the refrigerator for a week.
  4. Shake it well before using it.

II. Cashew Butter

Cashew butter
Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

  • 2 cups cashews
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted and cooled slightly)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Process

  1. Roast the cashews for about 10 minutes.
  2. Let nuts cool down completely.
  3. Blend them smoothly into a fine butter-like consistency.

You can add honey or vanilla or other flavors to the cashew butter according to your preference.

Magdalini, a blogger, shares her experience of using her favorite nut, cashews, to make butter after trying out peanut butter herself. She writes, “Before I came up with this exact recipe, I tried every combination imaginable. Raw cashews with sea salt, unsalted cashews with oil, roasted cashews with honey and salt (the honey made it too thick, it was like stucco), roasted cashews with sugar and oil (i).”

protip_icon Quick Tip
You may add any neutral oil like avocado oil instead of coconut oil to preserve the flavor of cashews in the butter.

Though cashew nuts are delicious and offer some great health benefits, you must also be aware of their side effects. Check them out below.

Side Effects Of Cashews

People prone to allergies should consult a doctor before having cashews. Cashews are known to cause severe immune responses in such cases (28).

Unprocessed cashews should be consumed only after removing the outer shell as it contains urushiol oil, which is toxic (28).

The side effects of cashew nuts are listed below:

  • People With Kidney Stones: People with a history of kidney stones should be cautious when consuming cashews as they contain oxalates. Excess consumption of oxalates may prevent calcium absorption and accelerate kidney stone formation.
  • Cashew Allergy: Nut allergies cause reactions such as nausea, abdominal pain, swelling of the mouth, and difficulty swallowing (29).
  • Anaphylaxis: Research has found that an extreme reaction to cashews can lead to a fatal condition called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency where the person develops symptoms such as swelling of tongue, difficulty breathing and swallowing, and loss of consciousness (30), (31).
  • Contact Dermatitis: Extreme skin allergy manifested by itchy skin, swelling, and hives due to contact with cashew nut shell oil has been reported (32).
  • Gastrointestinal Discomfort: People allergic to cashews can show symptoms such as coughing, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Breathing Difficulties: If consumption of cashews triggers a running nose or breathing problems, seek medical help immediately.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Cashews may affect blood sugar levels. Therefore, avoid consuming cashew nuts at least two weeks before any planned surgery.

Infographic: Interesting Facts About Cashew Nuts

Cashew nuts are delicious nuts packed with nutrients. They are rich in several micronutrients that help improve overall health. They originated in Brazil and are highly consumed in the United States. Cashew nut shells are also used in several applications. Click on the infographic below to learn more about these nuts.

facts about cashew nuts (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Cashew nuts are a popular snack to munch on. They are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fats. The benefits of cashew nuts include improved heart health, better immunity, and stronger bones. The nuts are also good for your hair and skin. They may even help manage diabetes and weight. You can reap the benefits of cashew nuts also through cashew milk, butter, or creams. However, the nuts may also cause allergies, diarrhea, nausea, and breathing difficulties if consumed in large amounts. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, consult your health care provider before consumption.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many cashews can I eat in a day?

An average of 25-30 of cashews (30 g) is recommended per day. Eating more than this amount can cause side effects such as headaches and bloating.

What do cashews do for your body?

Cashews are rich in many compounds that benefit the heart and circulatory system. Overall, including nuts in your diet makes you healthy.

What happens when you eat too many cashews?

Eating too many cashews can cause headache and stomach problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating.

Do cashew nuts increase weight?

Despite being calorie-dense, consuming limited amounts of cashew nuts every day has been reported to help weight management. The key is to consume only a few nuts regularly to reap its nutritional benefits.

Do cashews help you sleep?

Cashews are rich in unsaturated fats, which may boost serotonin. Serotonin is important for helping you sleep.

What is the best time to eat cashew nuts?

Cashews can be consumed any time of the day. They curb hunger pangs and make an excellent snack.

Are cashews good for kidneys?

Cashews have many essential minerals and vitamins that help in the proper functioning of our body, including kidneys. Specific research regarding this seems to be limited.

Can I eat cashews every day?

Eating a few cashews every day is recommended because of its rich nutritional profile and health benefits. However, make sure to consume them in moderation. Don’t have more than a handful per day as they are high in calories and can lead to some unwanted side effects.

Do cashews make you gassy?

Consuming cashews in excess can make you feel bloated and gassy.

Do cashews cause headaches?

Generally, cashews are safe, but some people are allergic to them. In such cases, cashews may cause headaches.

Where do cashew nuts come from?

Cashew nuts are the seeds of the cashew plant. They are attached to the cashew apple, which is also consumed by some people. They are native to Brazil but also cultivated in Asia and Africa.

Key Takeaways

  • Cashews may help improve heart health as they contain phytosterols and phenolic compounds.
  • It may lower blood pressure as they contain unsaturated fats and minerals.
  • Copper in cashew may improve collagen production, which may help improve skin and hair health.
  • Eat cashews raw or roasted. Prepare cashew milk or cashew butter and include it in your daily diet for effective results.
  • People with kidney stones should avoid cashew as they contain oxalates, which may prevent calcium absorption and speed up kidney stone formation.
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Cashews are a great source of nutrition. Check out this comprehensive video to learn about the top 7 incredible health benefits of including them in your diet.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

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Dr. Geeta Dharmatti is the Director and Founder of Geeta Nutriheal Consultancy (Nutrition Services Consultancy) and an Executive Member of the Indian Dietetic Association. She has done her Masters in Nutrition and PhD in Clinical Nutrition.   Dr. Geeta has 20+ years of experience in clinical nutrition and specializes in enteral, parenteral, obesity, diabetes, pediatric, and therapeutic nutrition. She is...read full bio

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