Like all tree nuts, cashews are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals beneficial to health. Regularly eating nuts has been shown to contribute to heart health, reduce overall mortality and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, assist with weight management, reduce the risk of cancer, improve sperm quality, reduce depression and overall promote good health. 

A 30g serve is around 15 cashews.

Nutrient Per 100g Per 30g
energy
Energy (kJ) 2437 731
macronutrients
Protein (g) 17 5.1
Total fat (g) 49 14.7
Saturated fat (g) 8.4 2.5
Monounsaturated fat (g) 31.1 9.3
Polyunsaturated fat (g) 7.5 2.3
Omega 3 ALA 0 0
Carbohydrate (g) 16.8 5
Sugars (g) 5.5 1.7
Dietary fibre (g) 5.9 1.8
minerals
Calcium (mg) 34 10.2
Copper (mg) 1.9 0.6
Iron (mg) 5.0 1.5
Magnesium (mg) 250 75
Manganese (mg) 1.4 0.42
Potassium (mg) 550 165
Selenium (ug) 33 9.9
Sodium (mg) 11 3.3
Zinc (mg) 5.5 1.7
vitamins
Thiamin (mg) 0.6 0.2
Riboflavin (mg) 0.2 0.1
Niacin (mg eq) 7.3 2.2
Folate DFE (ug) 25 7.5
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.4 0.12
Vitamin E (mg) 0.7 0.21
other
Arginine (g) 2.1 0.6
Sterols (mg) 151 45.3
Polyphenols (mg) 269 81

Health effects

In addition to the health benefits that all tree nuts provide, cashews have been associated with: 

  • Reductions in total and LDL cholesterol [1]; and in insulin and LDL: HDL cholesterol ratio [2].
  • Decreases in systolic blood pressure and increases in HDL cholesterol in patients with type 2 diabetes [3].

NB. Compared to other tree nuts, research on cashews is quite limited. This means the specific health benefits of cashews are not well understood.

What makes cashews unique

  • Cashews have a low glycaemic index (GI) of 25. A low GI diet can help to manage blood glucose and insulin levels, and may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease [4].
  • Compared to other tree nuts, cashews are particularly high in iron (12% of the RDI), required for transport of oxygen in the blood and zinc (12% of RDI), important for wound healing and immunity. 
  • Cashews are also higher in niacin, a B-group vitamin required for growth and metabolism, and copper which has many roles in the body including nerve function, bone growth, glucose metabolism as well as an antioxidant. 
  • They contain predominantly monounsaturated fats, important for heart health.
  • Cashews are naturally low in food chemicals that some people may be intolerant to, meaning they are the one nut that people following an elimination diet are allowed. 
  • Cashews are a source of protein and mono-unsaturated fats, and are low in sodium.
  • They are a source of copper, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, thiamin and niacin. 

Where they are grown

A native of Brazil, now grown in Vietnam, India, Africa and Brazil, with some small orchards in northern Queensland.  

Forms and best eaten with…

  • Cashews are usually available salted and unsalted, raw and roasted as whole nuts or in pieces. 
  • Cashews make great cashew butters, which can also be used in place of coconut milk for a creamy curry.
  • They make great snacks and compliment stir-fries and curries particularly well. 

Storage

Remove nuts from plastic bags and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Nuts can be refrigerated for up to 4 months and frozen for up to 6 months. Remember, bringing nuts back to room temperature before eating can help them taste nuttier.

References

  1. Mah, E., et al., Cashew consumption reduces total and LDL cholesterol: a randomized, crossover, controlled-feeding trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 2017. 105(5): p. 1070-1078.
  2. Darvish Damavandi, R., et al., Effects of Daily Consumption of Cashews on Oxidative Stress and Atherogenic Indices in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Controlled-Feeding Trial. Int J Endocrinol Metab, 2019. 17(1): p. e70744.
  3. Mohan, V., et al., Cashew Nut Consumption Increases HDL Cholesterol and Reduces Systolic Blood Pressure in Asian Indians with Type 2 Diabetes: A 12-Week Randomized Controlled Trial. J Nutr, 2018. 148(1): p. 63-69.
  4. Livesey, G., et al., Glycemic response and health--a systematic review and meta-analysis: relations between dietary glycemic properties and health outcomes. Am J Clin Nutr, 2008. 87(1): p. 258s-268s.
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