There has been a growing interest in plant-based cashew milk for quite some time. Preparing this low-calorie milk is as simple as blending cashews with water. It is both sweet and creamy, and is a great dairy-free alternative. Cashew milk is also rich in beneficial fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, and plant sterols, and is perfect for individuals with lactose intolerance. What potential health benefits and risks does cashew milk have? This article explores the nutrition, health benefits, potential risks, and easy-to-make recipes of cashew milk. Keep reading.
In This Article
What Is Cashew Milk?
Dr. Swapan Banerjee, a consultant nutritionist and food scientist, says, “When cashews and water are blended, the liquid that we obtain is cashew milk. It is thick, white, and creamy. It also has a nutty flavor to it.”
Cashew milk is a great alternative to cow or buffalo milk if you are a vegan or lactose-intolerant. Unsweetened cashew milk has higher levels of vitamin A and calcium than cow milk. It also has fewer calories and sugars, and makes delicious bakery products, tea, and coffee (1).
Clara Lawson, RDN and a medical doctor at USA Hemp, says, “Cashew milk is non-dairy and low-calorie milk that is nutritional, super creamy, and versatile and can be used in different ways.”
The taste and nutritional content of cashew milk may vary a little between brands. It comes in both sweetened (with added sugar) and unsweetened varieties. It is also fortified with calcium carbonate, vitamins E, A, and D2, salt, natural flavor, and lecithin (an emulsifier) in some cases (1). Let us find out what nutrients cashew milk can offer you.
Nutritional Information Of Cashew Milk
Commercially available cashew milk (100g) contains (2):
Total lipids (fat)
Cashew nuts are very rich in health-promoting unsaturated fatty acids as well as dietary fiber, protein, minerals, phytosterols, and antioxidant phenolic compounds (3). The following section discusses the range of benefits the nutrient-rich cashew milk can offer. Take a look.
Health Benefits Of Cashew Milk
1. May Boost Heart Health
Dr. Banerjee says, “Cashew milk contains monounsaturated fatty acids, which are heart-healthy.” Cashew nuts may help decrease blood pressure levels significantly and benefit people with hypertension, a common cardiovascular disorder. Besides, they were also found to reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels (4), (5).
Lawson adds, “Another great benefit of cashew milk is that it does not contain any cholesterol. People can drink it to reduce their increased levels of cholesterol that put them at a higher risk of serious heart conditions.”
2. May Help Reduce Weight
Cashew milk contains anacardic acid, a bioactive compound that limits fat accumulation during adipogenesis (the formation of fat cells). This may help you keep from gaining weight (6).
Rizza Joyce Mira, MD, adds, “Cashew milk is low in calories compared to cow’s milk and even almond milk. This may be the best alternative for those on a weight-loss regimen. With only 25 calories per cup, this appears to be a calorie-saving food choice.”
3. May Help Reduce Cancer Risk
Several antioxidant compounds, including anacardic acid, cardanols, and cardols in cashew nuts may help reduce the risk of cancer (7).
Inositol and anacardic acid present in cashew nuts may also help inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and their movement to other body parts (8). Besides, these nuts also contain boron, which has the potential to reduce the risk of certain cancers (9).
4. May Promote Bone Health
Cashew milk contains calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, all of which are essential for bone health. Vitamin D is vital for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which help contribute to strong, hard bones (10),(11).
It is recommended to consume 1000 to 1500 mg of calcium and at least 400 IU of vitamin D every day for maintaining bone health (11).
Lawson says, “Cashew milk is high in calcium, so it is really helpful in strengthening your bones and preventing diseases that are linked with calcium deficiency.”
5. May Prevent Gallstones
Cashew nuts may prevent the formation of gallstones and reduce diabetes risk. In a study, dietary data gathered over 20 years on 80,000 women was examined. The results concluded that those who ate one ounce of nuts (about two tablespoons) a week had a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones (12). This way, adding cashew milk to your diet may help prevent gallbladder diseases.
6. May Promote Eye Health
Dr. Banerjee says, “Cashews are rich in antioxidants and help promote eye health. They also prevent or slow down age-related eye conditions such as macular degeneration (that causes vision loss).”
Cashew milk is rich in bioactive and antioxidant compounds like β‐carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin (13). A study conducted on over 100,000 subjects linked higher intake of lutein and zeaxanthin with a long-term reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (14). Besides, these carotenoids absorb the harmful blue light that enters the eye and reduce the risk of eye disease (15). β‐carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, may also help reduce cataract risk (16).
7. May Prevent Anemia
Lawson says, “Since cashews are also a good source of iron, cashew milk can help with anemia prevention too. For giving a healthy boost to your red blood cells, you can drink one glass of cashew milk every day instead of relying on iron supplements.” However, research on cashew milk is limited.
Cashews are a good addition to any diet, thanks to their high nutritional value and overall benefits. Let us now look at how you can add cashew milk to your diet.
How To Add Cashew Milk To Your Diet
Dr. Banerjee says, “Cashew milk can be used as a substitute for cow’s milk in smoothies.”
Cashew milk is delicious and creamier than almond milk. Homemade cashew milk is just as delicious as store-bought cashew milk and can be added to any sweet or savory dish.
He adds, “While baking cakes, brownies, and muffins, cashew milk can be added. Breakfast cereals and cashew milk make a great combination. In Indian cuisines, people add cashew milk to stews and gravy to make them rich and thicker. It also improves the taste of the food item. Cashew milk can also substitute cow milk in sauces, ice creams, and milk-based beverages.”
Lawson says, “Cashew milk can be added to your diet in many ways because it has a creamy texture. For example, it can be added to smoothies, cereals, coffee, ice creams, chocolate drinks, and even baked foods.” The following section lists a few ways you can use cashew milk.
Popular Recipes With Cashew Milk
1. Creamy Cashew Milk Soup
What You Need
- Potatoes: 3 cups
- Butter: 2 tablespoons
- Leeks: 5
- Chicken broth: 4 cups
- Cashew milk: 1 cup
- Garlic powder: ½ teaspoon
- Ground black pepper: ½ teaspoon
- Salt: 1 teaspoon
How To Prepare
- Peel and slice potatoes thinly and set aside.
- Cut the leeks thinly and discard the dark green parts.
- Heat the butter in a large soup pot and sauté the leeks until they have wilted.
- Simmer the potatoes and chicken broth for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
- Puree the soup in a blender. Pour back into the pot.
- Add the cashew milk and mix well. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Season to taste and serve hot.
2. Cashew Milk Cake
What You Need
- Soaked cashews: 2 cups
- Cashew milk: 2/3 cup
- Cinnamon: 1 teaspoon
- Egg: 1
- Sugar: 2 tablespoons
- Coconut oil (melted): 2 tablespoons
How To Prepare
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Blend all ingredients (except coconut oil) well.
- Add the coconut oil.
- Pour into a parchment-lined baking tray and bake for 22 to 25 minutes.
- Allow it to cool. Top with a topping or frosting of your choice.
3. Cashew Milk Ice Cream
What You Need
- Cashews (soaked overnight): 2 cups
- Strong coffee: ¾ cup
- Unsweetened cashew milk: 1 cup
- Maple syrup: ½ cup
- Vanilla extract:2 teaspoons
- Salt: ¼ teaspoon
How To Prepare
- Blend the cashews, coffee, and cashew milk in a high-speed blender.
- Mix in vanilla extract, maple syrup, and salt until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Add the ice cream mixture to an ice cream maker and churn until it reaches soft-serve consistency.
- Place ice cream in a container and freeze.
Both almond milk and cashew milk are plant-based and have similar characteristics. While they often can replace each other, which of the two is right for you?
Cashew Milk Vs. Almond Milk
Lawson says, “Cashew milk and almond milk are produced in the same way; however, cashew milk has a more earthy taste than almond milk. When it comes to the nutritional value, they both are nearly the same.”
Mira says, “If you want a genuine milk flavor and texture with lesser calories, almond milk is one of your best options. It provides about 40 calories per cup. On the other hand, cashew milk is slightly creamier than almond milk, but it only has 25 calories in a single cup. Most of the calories in both almond and cashew milk come from good fat.”
The advantage almond milk has over cashew milk is too minute and a matter of personal preference. Nevertheless, both types of milk may not be suitable for every consumer.
She adds, “Unsweetened or unfortified almond and cashew milk are both low in terms of macronutrients. They offer almost equal nutrient density. So, if you are primarily aiming to cut your daily caloric intake, switching to nut milk instead of whole milk can be an excellent option to start. But for athletes, these types of nut milk fall short when it comes to fueling performance.”
As stated, cashew milk is not suitable every one and may even cause a few side effects. Keep scrolling to find out what they are.
Potential Side Effects And Allergies
Cashews are a wonderful option for plant-based milk, but they are a type of tree nut, which is a major allergen.
Lawson says, “Cashews are one of the top food allergens that can cause severe food allergic reactions in some people. The allergen substances found in cashews can trigger asthma symptoms, so it is better for asthmatics to avoid it.”
Lawson adds, “As far as side effects are concerned, some brands of cashew milk may contain lots of added sugar and other additives, which are not good for your health. Therefore, make sure to check the label carefully before you buy any product of cashew milk.”
Cashew milk is a non-dairy plant-based milk alternative. It has a creamy texture and provides many essential nutrients like fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins that help support bone, heart, and eye health. Unsweetened cashew milk may also help lose weight, reduce cancer risk, and prevent the formation of gallstones. It can easily be prepared at home while the commercially available products may have both sweetened or unsweetened varieties. The sweetened version has added sugar, which may be a cause of concern for some. Moreover, cashew nut is a potent allergen and can even trigger anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction). Hence, practice caution.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it okay to drink cashew milk every day?
Yes. Homemade cashew milk is safe to drink every day. Store-bought cashew milk may have added sugars that can cause concern if consumed regularly.
Is cashew milk good for sleep?
Yes. Cashew milk contains magnesium, which can help the body relax and even help treat insomnia symptoms (19).
Is cashew milk keto-friendly?
Yes. Unsweetened cashew milk has low carbs and low sugar content.
Is cashew milk hard to digest?
No. Cashew milk is easy to digest and is lactose-free, making it a good option for lactose-intolerant individuals.
Can I heat up cashew milk?
Yes. Cashew milk can be heated and used in all kinds of recipes.
- Cashew milk, made by blending cashews with water, is a nutrient-rich and creamy milk alternative.
- It may boost eye, heart, and bone health and prevent gallstones and anemia.
- Packaged cashew milk may have added sugar, so one should check the label before purchasing.
- Individuals with nut allergies or asthma should avoid cashew milk or consume it with caution.
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- Plant-Based Milks: Cashew1
- Cashew milk
- Cashew nuts (Anacardiumoccidentale L.) decrease visceral fat yet augment glucose in dyslipidemic rats
- The Effect of Cashew Nut on Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis (P06-117-19)
- Cashew consumption reduces total and LDL cholesterol: a randomized crossover controlled-feeding trial
- Anacardic Acid Suppresses AdipogenesisThrough Inhibition of the Hsp90/Akt Signaling Pathway in 3T3-L1 Preadipocytes
- Characterization of alkyl phenols in cashew (Anacardiumoccidentale) products and assay of their antioxidant capacity
- Can nut consumption improve colon cancer survival?
- Nutritional quality of almond canarium cashew and pistachio and their oil photooxidative stability
- The metabolism and functions of vitamin D
- Vitamin D and Bone Health
- Health Benefit of a Handful of Cashew Nuts (Anacardium Occidentale L.) to Prevent Different Disorders Like Diabetes Heart Disorders Cancer Weight Gain Gallstone Migraine Headache
- Nutritional composition of raw fresh cashew (Anacardiumoccidentale L.) kernels from different origin
- Intakes of Lutein Zeaxanthin and Other Carotenoids and Age-Related Macular Degeneration During 2 Decades of Prospective Follow-up
- The role of carotenoids in human health
- Association of vitamin A and β-carotene with risk for age-related cataract: a meta-analysis
- A remarkable food allergy in children: cashew nut allergy
- Systematic review on cashew nut allergy
- The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial