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    cashews

Food Percentage of DRI per 100 grams
copper
245  
phosphorus
85  
manganese
83  
magnesium
73  
zinc
53  

Cashew are the seeds of the cashew apple, a fruit of the cashew tree commonly found in Brazil, Mozambique, Tanzania, India and Vietnam. The fruit itself is regarded as a delicacy in parts of South America and the Caribbean. In other parts of the world the existance of the cashew apple is hardly known at all. There is only one single nut per cashew apple, encased in a double shell on the bottom of the fruit. 

You may have noticed that unlike walnuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds and many other nuts, unpeeled cashews are not available. Cashews are always peeled because their shells contain a toxic resin called cashew balm. This resin is completely removed before the nuts can be consumed, and is used in industry to make varnishes and insecticides.

Cashews are high in protein and are an excellent source of vitamin B-complex and essential minerals such as iron, phosphorous, magnesium, niacin, calcium, manganese, selenium, and zinc. 

Cashews are part of the tree nut family. With their sweet, buttery and mild taste and soft, blendable texture, the options of what can be made with cashews are seemingly endless. These tiny energy packs are especially popular among raw foodies and vegan chefs when it comes to making dairy free products. Think cream cheeze, m!lk, cashew yogurt, rich desserts, creamy dips, sauces, !ce cream and so much more. 

VOLUME

Quiet

HOW TO USE

Apart from raw food cuisine, cashews are used in baked goods, curries, granola, patés, dressings, salads, smoothies, soups, stews and stir-fries. They are popular in Central American, South American, Chinese, Indian and African cuisines. 

Cashews are easily ground into cashew butter that can be used on instead of peanut butter on your jelly sandwich. Spread some cashew butter on celery sticks or apple slices for a quick snack. Or mix cashew butter with tamari, chili, garlic, ginger, pepper and water to make a delicious sauce for stir-fries, tofu or spring rolls. 

Cashews don’t have enzyme inhibitors, but it is still a good idea to soak them prior to using, especially if blending. Soaking makes them easier to blend smooth and also ensures they are clean. Soak in clean water for 1-4 hours, discard the water and rinse before using. Soaked and drained nuts should be used right away or stored in the refrigerator up to 3 days. 

To roast cashews, use gentle heat in the oven at about 70°C (160°F) for approximately 20 minutes. A low temperature preserves nutritional properties in the healthy oils. To keep the nuts raw use a dehydrator set to 55°C (130°F) and dehydrate the soaked (and seasoned) cashews for 24 hours or until crisp. 

Sprinkle on top of smoothie bowls, salads, yogurt or veggies. If added to cooked food, add at after cooking, just before serving. 

FLAVOR PAIRINGS

Almonds, apples, apricots, bananas, bell peppers, black pepper, blueberries, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cacao, cardamom, carrots, cauliflower, cayenne, celery, celery root, chickpeas, chili, chives, chocolate, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, coconut, coconut sugar, coconut yogurt, corn, cumin, curry, garam masala, garlic, ginger, green papaya, hazelnuts, honey, hummus, lemon, lime, mangoes, maple syrup, m!lk, miso, mushrooms, mustard, nut m!lk, nut cream, nut cheeze, nutmeg, oil, onions, oranges, peanut butter, peas, pineapple, pine nuts, potatoes, pumpkin, rice, risotto, salt, sesame, snow peas, soy sauce, spinach, squash, tahini, tempeh, thyme tofu, tomatoes, vanilla, wasabi, vegan butter. 

SELECTING

You have most likely never seen cashews in their shell available in any store. They are always sold peeled because their shells contain cashew balm, a harsh resin which is not edible. Often either heat or chemicals are used to get cashews out of their shell.  Only hand peeled cashews are raw, therefore raw cashews are quite rare and often expensive. For raw food recipes, make sure the cashews you buy are unsalted, unroasted and haven´t been heated or chemically treated. Raw cashews can be found online or at your local health food store year round.

Cashews that are stored in a sealed package will last longer than those that are sold in bulk bins since they are less exposed to heat, air and humidity. Cashews should smell sweet and nutty; if their odor is sharp or bitter, they may be rancid.

STORING

Due to their high content of oleic acid, cashews have a longer shelf life than many other nuts. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark and dry pantry for up to 6 months. Cashew pieces have a shorter shelf life than whole cashews. Keeping nuts cold will further protect them from rancidity and prolong their freshness. If you want to extend their shelf life, store in the refrigerator or freezer. Conveniently, cashews and other nuts don´t actually freeze, so they are ready for instant use right out of the freezer. 

SUBSTITUTIONS

For cream cheeze, aged cheeze, savory spreads, dips and sauces, try pili nuts or macadamia nuts in place of cashews. For cheezecakes and other creamy desserts, try substituting with macadamia nuts. In some cases sunflower seeds, almonds and pumpkin seeds can be used as substitute.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts, and most of it is heart-healthy, monounsaturated fats that help strengthen the cardiovascular system, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. A review study published in the British Journal of Nutritionshowed that subjects consuming nuts at least 4 times per week had a 37% reduced risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who never or rarely ate nuts. 

The high levels of minerals magnesium and calcium are great for promoting strong bones and healthy skin and hair. Magnesium also acts as a nerve and muscle relaxant which not only can help with joint elasticity, but also to reduce the frequency of migraines and promote healthy sleep patterns. 

Cashews are also packed with anti-cancer flavonoids called proanthocyanidins which work with vitamin C to inhibit cancer cells from multiplying, and thereby starves tumors. 

Twenty years of dietary data collected on 80,000 women from the Nurses' Health Study showed that women who ate ¼ cup nuts per week had a 25% lower risk of gallstones and gallbladder disease. 

Full of Niacin and Tryptophan, cashews are considered natures anti depressant. One handful of cashews provides the equivalent of one prescription dose, enough to elevate your mood, help you sleep better and keep anxiety at bay. 

Although nuts are known to be nutrition powerhouses, many avoid them for fear of weight gain. A prospective study published in the journal Obesity shows such fears to be wrong. Instead, people who ate nuts at least twice a week were much less likely to gain weight than those who rarely, if ever, ate nuts.

CONCERNS

Although there are numerous benefits to eating cashews and other nuts, overconsumption is not recommended. Nuts are very “moorish”, and it is easy to get carried away. Many people assume that something labeled “healthy” is fine to consume in unlimited amounts. But overeating nuts can negatively impact health in various ways. A handful (1/4 cup) of nuts per day is the recommended serving. Too much even of a good thing can be quite hard to digest and can be a burden for the liver and kidneys. Fats in general also inhibit the detox process. It is important to include a lot of hydrating foods in the diet, such as fruits and vegetables in addition to consuming nuts. Another recommendation is to avoid nuts (and other fats) in the morning to give the body a chance to detox in the morning. This is the time that our body is “breaking the fast”, and we want to ease into eating again by consuming very cleansing food such as hydrating vegetables and fruits and lots of liquids. 

CASHEWS AND OXALATES

Cashews contain measurable amounts of naturally-occurring antinutrients called oxalates. Once consumed, oxalates can bind onto minerals and crystalize in the colon or urinary tract. For most people these compounds are then eliminated through the stool or urine without any issues. However, according to some studies, an accumulation of oxalates in individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder issues can be associated with an increased risk of kidney stones. Therefore, people who have had, or are at risk of developing kidney stones are often advised to minimize their consumption of high oxalate foods. Others claim oxalates are not the villain, and avoiding these vegetables and fruits is misguided, causing people to miss out on important antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Dr. Brooke Goldner, MD, among others, point out that it is a high intake of animal protein that leads to increased calcium and uric acid excretion as well as decreased urinary citrate – which is the most common cause of calcium oxalate kidney stones.  

Further, some claim that oxalates may interfere with absorption of calcium which in turn can lead to mineral deficiency, leaky gut, malnutrition and even autism. Yet, every peer-reviewed research study shows, the ability of oxalates to lower calcium absorption is so small it does not outweigh the ability of oxalate-containing foods to contribute with calcium and other beneficial minerals. 

HISTORY

The cashew tree originated in the tropical regions of Brazil, and the word cashew comes from the Tupi Indian word for nut. In the 16thcentury when first discovered by European explorers the nut was believed to be toxic due to the irritating resin surrounding it. But they soon learned how to remove the resin by roasting the nut, and brought the tree to other other tropical regions such as India, Southeast Asia and Africa. However, it didin’t become popular in the United States until the 1920’s. Today the cashew tree is a prized resource, not only owing to the cashew nuts, but also its precious wood, cashew balm and cashew apple. 

 

REFERENCES

  • Blomhoff R, Carlsen MH, Andersen LF, Jacobs DR Jr. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S52-60. 2006. PMID:17125534.
  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986. PMID:15210.
  • Kelly JH Jr, Sabate J. Nuts and coronary heart disease: an epidemiological perspective. Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S61-7. 2006. PMID:17125535.
  • Resnicow K, Barone J, Engle A, et al. Diet and serum lipids in vegan vegetarians: a model for risk reduction. J Am Diet Assoc 1991 Apr;91(4):447-53. 1991. PMID:16190.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. 1988. PMID