Cashew nuts or kaju are kidney shaped nuts, famous as nature’s vitamin pill, having amazing and wonderful nutritional health benefits. It is generally used dry fruit in the Indian cuisine such as variety of dessert preparations to add nutrition and taste. Solid, soft, sweet and delicious cashew nuts are packed with energy, protein, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins including other healthy materials required for body building. It belongs to the Anacardiaceae family and Anacardium genus, found in the tropical regions of the earth. It was spread by the Portuguese travelers all across the world from the Brazil’s Amazon rain forest. Now, it is commercially cultivated in various countries like Brazil, India, Vietnam, African countries and etc.
It grows on the tree adhering at the base to the accessory fruit called cashew apples of bell shape. It has doubled shell of allergenic phenolic resin (anacardic acid) and potent skin irritant allergenic oil urushiol (phenolic urushiol resin) having irritant toxin (used to make varnishes and insecticides). Later the outer skin gets destroyed and edible cashew nuts are extracted.
Health Benefits of Cashew Nuts or Kaju
Cashew nuts or kaju are full of amazing health benefits if taken within limit on daily basis. Health conscious people must try it by adding it to their daily diet plan to have its wonderful nutritious health benefits. It is beneficial for all the age groups people of both genders. It has essential amino acids, proteins and unsaturated fats which nourishes the unique body systems very well. It has all the nutritious elements (anti-oxidants, vitamins, proteins, electrolytes, minerals and etc) required for better body growth and development specially for growing age children. Enjoy reading some of the health benefits of cashew nuts which are mentioned below:
Benefits of Cashew Nuts for Cancer Prevention
Fights with Tumor
- It has a most important substance called Proanthocyanidin (flavonols) which has ability to fight against tumor cells by stopping their growth and division.
Prevents from Cancer
- Proanthocyanidins are compound having high copper content which helps in fighting with the cancerous cells. It prevents from the various cancers like cancer of colon, prostate and etc.
Rich Source of Antioxidants
- It reduces the occurrence of cancer to a great level as it has antioxidants like selenium and vitamin E which obstructs the free radical oxidation in the body and boosts the immunity.
Fights with Infection
- It has high level of other mineral called zinc which helps to fight from various infections.
Suppress Tumor Cells Growth
- Vitamin K found in it has ability to suppress the tumor cells growth. It also helps in the prevention of cirrhosis and liver cancer as well as best treatment of the cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts for Heart
Keeps Heart Healthy
- It contains low fat content and no cholesterol which helps the heart to function well. It also has powerful antioxidants which keeps the heart away from various heart diseases.
Keeps Blood Pressure under Control
- Its magnesium content helps to maintain the blood pressure and lowers down the high blood pressure. Its tendency of lowering the blood pressure helps in preventing the heart attacks.
- It has lower level of sodium and higher level of potassium which keeps the blood pressure under control.
Balances Cholesterol Level
- Kaju has heart friendly monounsaturated essential fatty acids called oleic acid and palmitoleic acid which reduces the bad cholesterol level as well as increases the good cholesterol and triglycerides level in the body which makes the heart healthy, thus prevents from coronary artery disease and strokes by maintaining the blood lipid profile balanced.
Maintains Healthy Blood Flow in Arteries
- Cashew nuts prevent from the atherosclerosis and reduces the plague formation in the arteries.
Prevents from Cardiac Arrhythmia
- It is also the good source of the omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids which acts as powerful antioxidants and prevents the blood vessels from free radicals and cardiac arrhythmia.
Reduces Risk of Heart Diseases
- The essential fatty acid like oleic acid inhibits the cholesterol transport to the bloodstream thus reduces low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and elevates high-density lipoprotein (HDL) concentration in the blood and lowers the risks of heart diseases.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts for Hair
Improves Hair Growth
- It has an important mineral called Copper which helps hair to maintain their brightness, strong and black color.
Provides Natural Color to Hair
- Copper found in it acts as an essential component for many enzymes. Tyrosinase is a enzyme having copper helps in converting tyrosine to the melanin (a pigment providing color to the hair and skin).
Benefits of Cashew Nuts for Bones
Provides Required Nutrients for Bone Growth
- It has lots of minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and etc required for the healthy growth and development of the bones among kids, women and men.
Enhances Calcium Absorption
- Good magnesium level in the body also enhances the calcium absorption level by the bones.
Improves Bone Density
- Its high level proteins and good magnesium and calcium level helps in making the strong bone structure.
Maintains Bone Flexibility
- High copper level helps in maintaining the flexibility of the bones and joints. It enhances the functioning of an enzyme which combines the collagen and elastin, thus provides flexibility to the bones and joints.
Prevents from Bone Deformity
- Vitamin K found in Cashew nut helps in maintaining the healthy bones by calcifying the bones, thus prevents from osteoporosis and skeletal deformation.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts for Nerves
Makes Nervous System Healthy
- It’s one of the minerals called Magnesium play a very important role in maintaining the healthy nerves.
Relaxes Blood Vessels, Nerves and Muscles
- Magnesium gets stored on the bones surfaces and prevents calcium to enter the nerve cells, thus enhances the relaxation of the blood vessels, nerves and muscles. Low or insufficient magnesium level in the body let the calcium passes into the blood vessels and made them contract which leads to the high blood pressure, migraine, headache and lots of problems.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts in Weight Loss
Contains Healthy Protein and no Cholesterol
Even after being loaded with the fats and proteins, it is considered that cashew nut helps in managing the weight as it contains no cholesterol, good fat and healthy protein. So, the weight conscious people can start eating cashews, at least for two days a week to be prevented from extra weight gain.
Contains Dietary Fibers
- Kaju has high energy density and high level of the dietary fibers, both of which aids to the weight management when eaten in limit.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts for Gums and Teeth
Improves Health of Teeth and Gums
- Its magnesium content helps a lot in maintaining the healthy and strong gums and teeth if taken on regular basis.
Prevents Tooth Decay
- It prevents from the tooth decay and abscessed teeth.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts for Brain
Promotes Healthy Brain Functioning
- Its high level of copper content involves in very important body functions like enzyme activation, hormone production and maintenance of brain functions.
Improves Brain Power
- It enhances the brain power as it boosts the immunity system, prevents from infections and enhances blood supply to the brain by increasing the production of more red blood cells.
Improves Oxygenated Blood Flow to Brain
- It enhances the oxygen supply to the brain and enhances the memory power.
Enhances Brain Cells Production
- It has polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats which enhance the production of brain cells.
Maintains Healthy Nerve Impulses Conduction
- Magnesium conducts nerve impulses to the brain from muscles thus prevents from painful cramps, muscle spasm and lesions.
Prevents from Mental Disorders
- Copper found in Cashew nut involves in production and secretion of both melanin and dopamine which prevents from depression, severe sun burn, chronic fatigue syndromes, neurological disorders and etc.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts for Skin
Prevents from Dermatitis
- One of the B group vitamins found in it called Niacin prevents from the skin disease known as pellagra or dermatitis.
Improves Utilization of Iron
- As it enhances the utilization of the iron in the body, elimination of free radicals, maintenance of connective tissue, production of skin and hair pigment called melanin, it makes the skin healthy and wrinkles free.
- Its copper content keeps the skin rejuvenate, glowing and healthy by fighting with the free radicals and removing pigments.
Prevents from Skin Cancer
- It prevents from the basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts for Eyes
Prevents from Old Age Eye Disorders
- It has a pigment flavonoid antioxidant called zea-xanthin which gets absorbed to the eyes (retinal macula lutea) and protects from the UV rays, thus prevents from the age-related macular degeneration during old age.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts in Diabetes
Restricts Glucose Absorption
- It helps in combating with the diabetes as the extract of cashew seeds restricts the glucose absorption in the body.
Protects from Diabetic Complications
- Cashew nuts have monounsaturated fats which reduces the triglyceride levels among diabetics thus protect from further complications.
Reduces Risk of Type-2 Diabetes
- It lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes among people.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts during Pregnancy
Healthy and Energetic
- It is an excellent dry fruit for the pregnant women, if she is not allergic to it. It acts as an instant energy booster, make them feel fuller for long and best snacks in between the meals.
Lessens Tissue Damage
- It is the great source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant which slows down the ageing process as well as lessens tissue damage during pregnancy.
Reduces Fear of Stretch Marks
- It helps in rejuvenating the skin and prevents the occurrence of stretch marks during pregnancy.
- Cashew nut contains monounsaturated fats which help in preventing and managing hypertension among pregnant women.
Fights all Health Challenges
- It helps to fight with various health challenges during pregnancy.
- It helps the obese pregnant women in reducing the bad fats by increasing the good fats level in the body.
Reduces Risk of Heart Problems
- Its high magnesium level prevents pregnant women from the heart diseases.
Prevents from Anemia
- It helps in managing the iron level of the body during pregnancy, thus prevents the occurrence of anemia.
Keeps Hair and Skin Healthy
- Kaju improves the hair and skin quality among pregnant women.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts Milk
Full of Energy and Healthy Nutrients
- It acts as better substitute for the vegans who do not like buffalo or cow milk. It can be prepared at home by blending at least 20 cashew nuts in the water. It has all the benefits of the cashew nuts mentioned above.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts Oil
Beneficial for Overall Health
- Cashew nuts oil is a dark yellow color liquid used for the cooking or salad making purposes.
- It is also beneficial for the health for the normal growth and functioning of the body parts.
- Oil is also produced from the cashews nutshell called cashew nutshell liquid (CNSL or cashew shell oil) which is a natural resin and byproduct of the processed cashew nuts.
Used as Basic Component
- It is used in making drugs, antioxidants, insecticides like fungicides, medicine for anti-termite treatment of timber and etc.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts for Women after Menopause
Prepares Body to Fight Menopausal Symptoms
- Cashew nuts are considered as the sleep inducer and stress reliever. It helps women after their menopause stage by enhancing the relaxed and pleasant sleep during night time thus releases stress level among women in old age.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts for Men
Reduces Risk of Prostate Cancer
- Its Vitamin K availability reduces the occurrence of prostate cancer among men.
Removes Weakness and Fatigue
- It boosts the power of men by providing instant energy thus helps in fighting with weakness and fatigue.
Benefits of Cashew Nuts for Kids
Promotes Overall Healthy Growth and Development
- It is one of the most beneficial dry fruits for children of growing age. It enhances the growth and development of the bones, teeth, brain, hair, skin and etc body part as they need more calcium, vitamins, minerals, proteins and calorie than other age group people.
Other Benefits of the Cashew Nuts
Prevents Stone Formation
- Its unavailability of cholesterol helps in preventing the gallstones formation (gall bladder stone) in the body when taken on daily basis (as cholesterol enhances gallstones formation).
Prevents from Various Diseases
- Its anti-oxidants property helps the body to get prevented from various diseases.
Source of Important Minerals
- It has variety of important minerals like selenium, magnesium and copper which acts as co-factors for various body enzymes.
- Cashew nut helps in better body growth and development, nucleic acid synthesis and digestion.
Rich Source of B-Group Vitamins
- It is one of the vitamins rich dry fruits containing B group vitamins (riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, and pantothenic acid), vit E, vit K, vit C, folates and etc which prevents from the sideroblastic anemia, pellagra and etc.
Free Radicals Fighter
- It is the best free radicals fighter as it enhances the body functioning to utilize more iron in order to eliminate the problems causing free radicals from the body.
Protects from UV Rays
- It has ability to prevent the body from the UV rays of the sun as well as protects from the age related macular degeneration.
Enhance Body Immunity
- It has health promoting phyto chemicals which enhance body immunity and protects from various life threatening diseases.
Prevents from Deficiency Diseases
- It is loaded with the essential minerals called manganese, magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, zinc, selenium and etc which help in preventing from various deficiency diseases.
Activates Vital Enzymes
- Selenium and copper are the cofactors for many vital enzymes like Glutathione peroxidases, cytochrome c-oxidase, superoxide dismutase and etc.
- Zinc is also a cofactor for many enzymes which regulates the growth and development, digestion, nucleic acid synthesis, sperm generation and etc.
Rich Source of Pyridoxine
- One of the B group vitamins found in it called Pyridoxine prevents from the homocystinuria and sideroblastic anemia.
Rich Source of Niacin
- Niacin is also from B group vitamins which involves in major body functioning like protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism.
Provides Required Magnesium to Body
- Low magnesium level in the body causes high blood pressure, muscle tension, migraine, headaches, soreness, fatigue and etc thus eating cashews prevents from the migraine attacks, high blood pressure and heart attacks.
Rich Source of Zinc
- Zinc found in it acts as powerful antibacterial and antifungal agent thus prevent from microbial colonization, food poisoning and gastroenteritis.
Kills Gram Positive Bacteria
- Regular intake of kaju helps in killing all the gram positive bacteria from body thus prevent from tuberculosis and leprosy.
- Its high fibre content helps in relieving the constipation when taken on regular basis.
Nutritional Benefits of Cashew Nuts/Kaju per 100 g
(Source: USDA Nutrient Database)
Energy: 553 Kcal
Carbohydrate: 30.19 g
Sugar: 5.91 g
Protein: 18.22 g
Fat: 43.85 g
Saturated: 12.9 g
Unsaturated (Oleic): 36.8 g
Unsaturated (Linoleic): 10.2 g
Dietary Fibers: 3.3 g
Folates: 25 µg
Niacin: 1.062 mg
Pantothenic acid: 0.864 mg
Pyridoxine: 0.417 mg
Riboflavin: 0.058 mg
Thiamin: 0.423 mg
Vitamin C: 0.5 mg
Vitamin E: 5.31 mg
Vitamin K: 4.1 µg
Sodium: 12 mg
Potassium: 660 mg
Calcium: 37 mg
Copper: 2.195 mg
Iron: 6.68 mg
Magnesium: 292 mg
Manganese: 1.655 mg
Phosphorus: 593 mg
Selenium: 19.9 µg
Zinc: 5.78 mg
Lutein-zeaxanthin: 22 µg
How to Select and Store
Always buy fresh kaju from the market and be sure that it have not been polished as it may lead to some serious health disorders because of chemicals used in polishing. Avoid buying kaju smelling bad or rancid smell or tastes little bit sour. Cashew nuts are easily available in the market everywhere. Take care if you are selecting shelled cashew kernels as they contain phenolic resin called urushiol, a skin irritating toxin. Always buy cashew without shell and without salt. Although, it is available in the market in its all forms like raw, sweetened, salted, ground and etc. Always buy cashes with bright cream-white color, solid, compact, even skinned, same size and heavy. Avoid broken or cracked, mold or spotted and rancid smell cashews.
Store it in a cool, dry and safe place away from the sunlight however it is best to use fresh and finish within one or two months of time period as it gets rancid smell and sour taste. It should be stored in the airtight container in cool and dry place or in the refrigerator to keep it away from rancid smell. Fresh cashews can be stored for 5 to 6 months.
How to Enjoy
It can be enjoyed in many ways such as raw, roasted, chopped, snacks, spiced kaju, added in laddoos, kaju barfi, mava, gujhiya, suji halawa, gajar halawa, kaju milk, kheer and so many. It can also be enjoyed as a salted, sweetened, in sweets or desserts, along with other nuts like almonds, pistachio, walnuts and other dry fruits, rice pulav, hyderbadi-biriyani, kaaju shahi paneer, namkeen, biscuit, cakes, laddoo, soups, curries and so many dishes.
Disadvantages, Side Effects and Precautions of Cashew Nuts
Cashew nuts have not any ill-effects on the person health however some of the precautions should be taken care of while eating first time. It may cause allergy in some people, weight gain in some people if eaten over limit and etc. Some of the disadvantages, side effects and precautions are mentioned below which are must to have in mind before starting it on daily basis:
- As cashews are high in calories so avoid eating many at a time, it may lead to overweight.
- It may cause allergic reactions to some people and causes diarrhea, skin rashes, itching or eczema, dehydration, vomiting, swelling on face and throat (anaphylaxis), difficulty in breathing, wheezing or asthma and etc. Avoid eating cashews or meet your health practitioner when feel any of the above symptoms.
- Avoid eating salted cashew nuts as it may increase the blood pressure because of high sodium content. It should be avoided especially by the person suffering from the heart disease or diabetes.
- It may cause headache, migraines and other side effects. People sensitive to the amino acids found in it called tyramine and phenyethyamine may develop headache however, these amino acids maintain normal blood pressure and enhances the feeling of well-being.
- It may cause hypersensitivity especially in children which leads to the skin itching, breathing difficulty, stomach ache, vomiting or diarrhea.
- Its shell contains a compound called anacardic acid (urushiol) which is toxic and cause severe health problems.
- Salted cashew nuts should be avoided by the pregnant women as it increases the blood pressure because of high sodium level.
- Eating too much of cashews should be avoided as its oxalates content may cause health problems like kidney or gallbladder stone formation. Person suffering from the gallstones should take care of it.
How Much Cashews to Eat Per Day
Eating how much cashews a day is depend on the age, sex and health conditions of the person. It is the dry fruit having lots of health benefits however over limit of it may lead to the severe problems. One can get its all the nutritional benefits by eating it within limit. Always remember that control on anything is the best key for the good health. It can be eaten 5-10 in numbers a day as snacks in between the meal. Excess consumption of it may add some extra weight to your body.
Find the Benefits of other Dry Fruits