In a previous blog post on the nutritional value of cashews, we broke down just how packed full of vitamins and minerals these delicious tree nuts are. We talked about how they’re full of heart healthy fats, copper, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium and phosphorus, as well as vitamines K, E, and B6. Here, we’re going to discuss the effects that these nutrient dense nuts have on our overall health and well-being.
One serving (about a fistful of nuts) a day does a lot towards keeping us mentally and physically healthy. Here are 11 reasons to make cashew nuts part of your daily or weekly diet:
#1. Cashews help maintain a healthy heart. Cashews are full of monounsaturated fats, which are needed to to lower LDL cholesterol (AKA the bad kind) and raise HDL cholesterol (AKA the good kind). They also help lower blood pressure, combat against the formation of plaque buildup in artery walls, and help to lower triglyceride levels, which all works together to fight against heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
#2. Cashews are important for blood health. Copper deficiency can lead to anemia, a condition where a person’s red blood cell count is too low. One serving of cashews contains a lot of copper and some iron, which together help in the formation and utilization of red blood cells.
#3. Cashews can help manage weight. Studies have shown that frequent nut consumption is associated with a reduced risk of weight gain. This may seem surprising since cashews are a pretty calorie heavy food. However, in moderation they can actually help manage weight because of the type of fat they contain, which is mostly monounsaturated fat. Cashews have healthy omega-3s, which help boost metabolism and burn fat. One serving also contains almost the entire daily requirement of copper, which helps to regulate metabolism and assists in energy production. Eating nuts also leaves you feeling full longer, which can curb cravings, overeating or the urge to reach for an unhealthy snack. However, since they are calorie heavy, eating cashews to manage weight only works in moderation.
#4. Cashews are good for the skin and hair. The copper present in cashew nuts helps in the production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes their color. Healthy melanin production can enhance the color of your hair, but it is also acts like a natural sunscreen. It helps block UV radiation from damaging the skin and potentially causing skin cancer. Cashews also contain antioxidants, which combat free radicals that build up in our bodies and cause cellular damage, which are partly responsible for the visible signs of aging.
#5. Cashews can help prevent gallstones. Evidence shows that eating nuts regularly can help prevent painful gallstones from forming because they work to lower bad cholesterol and they lower triglycerides, both factors in gallstone formation.
#6. Cashews improve brain function. The brain needs a steady supply of healthy fatty acids in order to function. The good fat that we get from cashews, along with zinc, iron, copper and manganese, help support cognitive function and mood regulation, and can alleviate mental disorders such as ADHD, depression and anxiety.
#7. Cashews are good for bone health. The vitamin K, magnesium, copper and phosphorus that are present in cashews all work together to build bones, maintain bone density and support overall bone health. Copper helps to keep bones strong, making them less prone to breakage or osteoporosis. Magnesium is essential to bone health, with some being used by the body to build bone structure, along with phosphorus. And vitamin K helps to balance calcium, a key mineral in bone metabolism.
#8. Cashews are good for eye health. Cashews help protect the eyes from harmful UV rays and free radical damage because they contain lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidant pigments naturally occur in the eyes and are an important defense against damaging light and may reduce the risks of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.
#9. Cashews lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes. There are a couple of ways in which cashews combat diabetes: the monounsaturated fats we get from cashews helps lower the bad cholesterol and raise the good, and, the antioxidants found in cashews reduce inflammation, which causes insulin resistance and is the main cause of Type 2 diabetes.
#10. Cashews help prevent migraine headaches. The magnesium found in cashews can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks because it helps to relax blood vessels. Though, new research suggests that for some, cashew nuts may have the opposite effect than intended, potentially triggering a headache in people who are sensitive to the amino acid tyramine.
#11. Cashews can help regulate thyroid function. Cashews contain the mineral selenium, which plays an important role in ensuring proper thyroid function, regulating thyroid levels and protecting the thyroid’s tissue against oxidative stress. For women, this is especially important, as they are more prone to thyroid issues.
As we’ve said before, cashews are packed full of the nutrients we need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When combined with other vitamin and mineral rich foods in the forms of spread or dips, they are like medicine for our bodies. If you’re thinking of using cashews as part of your everyday diet to treat one of the health issues we’ve listed above, it’s important to speak with a health professional to determine your body’s own specific requirements and to determine what and how much is right for you.