Cashews are the seed of its tree (anacardium occidentale), a tropical evergreen that grows as high as 14 m. Native to central and southern America. This “fruit” tree has been spread all over the world in dry tropical areas. Brazil is among the largest produces of cashew together with India, Indonesia, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania.
The seed is stored within a nut in the shape of a kidney. The cashew fruit is in shape similar to a pear, but is more commonly referred to as an apple, and is attached to the nut. Discarded cashew nuts can be used to feed livestock and the leaves of the tree can be eaten by animals. The fruit can be used to make jams and compotes. It can also be pressed for juice from which alcoholic beverage or vinegar are prepared. The pulp is rich in vitamin C and tannin.
The shell of the nut contains a toxic oil “cardol” which irritates skin and mucosa, thus requiring a careful removal of this liquid during the preparation process of the nut. The oil is utilized for production of industrial paint, lacquer, colorants and is added to insecticides. In India it is traditionally used to soak wood to protect it against termites.The wood of the tree also does not go to waste, the furniture made from cashew tree is referred to as “White Mahogany”.
The (edible) part of nuts contains vitamins like niacin, Pantothenic acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Riboflavin (B2), thiamine (B1), vitamin E and last but not least folic acid.
Pyridoxine lowers the risk of homocystinuria – a metabolic disease and sideroblastic anemia. Niacin and its regular intake helps prevent occurrence of dermatitis.
Cashews are rich in Monounsaturated fatty acids, which help decrease the levels of harmful LDL cholesterol and also increase the levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol.
For me specifically, cashews are great for their large amounts of Magnesium, which influences cramps of hollow organs e.g. large intestine, uterus – during a painful period or angina pectoris.
As far as nutrition goes, they also contain lots of iron, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, zinc and potassium.Cashew nuts contain 45% of fat, which is far less than their almond or pecan counterparts.Large amounts of carotenoids benefit the skin and eyes, and prevent the degeneration of retina. They also have large influence on the nervous system, useful for irritation and depression.
And finally, did you know that you can prepare a tasty cream from cashew nuts? Here is a recipe as a little bonus! Recipe HERE.
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