Cashews and Healthy Eating
Cashews are part of the same family as mangos – who would have thought! Pistachios also belong to the same family and these nuts are known for their phytosterol content. More and more research is coming out about these nutrients and their beneficial effect on heart health. Phytosterols block cholesterol absorption in the gut and could lower cholesterol levels in body.
Cashews have a lower fat content than most nuts (at almost 60%) but it is the type of fat that cashews that is important. Cashews are made mostly from oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that has been linked to heart health (olive oil is another source of oleic acid).
They are also a very good source of copper which is both good for your bones and connective tissue, magnesium which is good for bone and heart health and also an anti-oxidant. Cashews do contain a substance called oxalate, which have been linked to kidney stones. At present the research is not conclusive enough to tell people to avoid oxalate rich foods.
My advice would be, considering their oxalate and fat content, to consume no more than a handful of cashews a day (1 oz) , or fewer if you are having a range of nuts and seeds during the day – your total daily intake should be around a handful of nuts and seeds.
When buying cashews, the best type to buy in terms of healthy eating are raw and unprocessed. You can get ‘dry roasted’ which are the next best thing (I’ve a recipe below to make your own dry roasted cashews). Try to buy in sealed packages where they are uniform in colour and not shriveled. Upon opening the packet they should be sweet smelling. If they are sharp or bitter they could well be rancid (see below).
You can also buy 100% cashew butter from health food stores and this is delicious as a snack – put some on whole grain toast, sliced pear or apple for an afternoon snack. Always refrigerate once opened. With whole cashews, store in a sealed container, in a cool dark place.