The pros (and cons) of cashew nuts (2023)

Cashews are mild and butterytypes of nutsnative to Central America and northern parts of South America, particularly Brazil.

Often referred to as "cashews," these nuts are the seeds of the fruit of the cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale).

In this article, we examine the full nutritional profile of cashews, the benefits they offer, and some potential concerns.

The pros (and cons) of cashew nuts (1)

nutritional information

The tables below show the complete nutritional facts for cashews per 28-gram serving.

All nutritional data is from the USDA Food Composition Databases (1).

Cashews: Nutritional Information per serving (28 grams).
calories156,77 kcal
carbohydrate8,56 g
Ballaststoff0,94 g
Zucker1,68 g
Fett12,43 g
Saturated Fatty Acids2,21 g
Monounsaturated fatty acids6,75 g
Polyunsaturated fat2,22 g
Omega-3 fatty acids0,02 g
Omega-6 fatty acids2,21 g
Protein5,17 g
VitaminsHeight% DV
Thiamin (B1)0,12mg10,0 %
Vitamin K19,67 µg8,1 %
Pyridoxin (B6)0,12mg7,1 %
Pantothenic Acid (B5)0,24mg4,8 %
Choline17,28mg3,1 %
Folate7,09 µg1,8 %
Niacin (B3)0,30mg1,9 %
Vitamin E0,26mg1,7 %
Riboflavin (B2)0,02mg1,5 %
Vitamin C0,14mg0,2 %
mineralsHeight% DV
copper0,62mg68,9 %
Mangan0,47mg20,4 %
Magnesium82,78 mg19,7 %
Zink1,64mg14,9 %
Phosphor168,11mg13,4 %
Eisen1,89mg10,5 %
Selenium5,64 µg10,3 %
Potassium187,11 mg4,0 %
calcium10,49mg0,8 %
Sodium3,40mg0,1 %

As the nutritional profile shows, cashews have slightly more carbohydrates and less fat than most nuts.

They also offer a good range of essential minerals.

Health benefits of cashew nuts

Cashew nuts and the nutrients they contain can provide various health benefits.

Here is a summary of what cashews offer.

1) Rich source of healthy fats

Cashew nuts are a good source of dietary fat. As the nutrition facts show, they provide 12.4 grams of fat per serving.

More than half of this fat content (6.7 grams) comes from the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid (2).

In this regard, a wealth of research suggests that oleic acid may have several beneficial health effects (3,4,5);

  • Oleic acid can improve insulin sensitivity.
  • A higher intake of oleic acid appears to have a positive effect on the lipid profile.
  • Diets high in oleic acid show improvements in markers of metabolic syndrome.

key point:Cashew nuts offer high levels of dietary fat and are a particularly good source of oleic acid.

2) Reich an Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral that is of great importance to human health.

Among the many functions of the mineral, magnesium is vital for (6);

  • maintaining a healthy immune system
  • bone health
  • muscle and nerve function
  • Formation of new bone and DNA

Additional research also suggests that magnesium may play a role in lowering blood pressure and regulating blood sugar levels (7,8).

While it can be difficult to find adequate dietary sources of magnesium, cashews provide good amounts of the mineral.

An ounce serving—just a handful of nuts—provides nearly 20% of your daily requirement for magnesium (1).

key point:Cashew nuts are a good source of magnesium, a mineral that has a number of crucial functions in the human body.

3) Moderately high in protein

In general, animal foods like dairy, meat, and seafood are the best sources of dietary protein.

However, certain plant-based foods can also provide protein.

While nuts are not among the most concentrated sources of plant protein, they do provide more than five grams of protein per ounce serving (1).

key point:Cashews are a pretty good source of plant-based protein.

4) Significant source of copper

Cashew nuts are an excellent source of the essential mineral copper.

This important mineral plays a crucial role in the immune system, iron metabolism and gene expression (9).

In addition, copper is believed to play a significant role in cardiovascular health.

According to research, a copper deficiency increases the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation and may increase the overall risk of cardiovascular disease (10,11,12).

Not many foods offer high levels of copper, but just one ounce of cashews provides 620 mcg of the nutrient (1).

This amount corresponds to 69% of the daily value for copper.

key point:Cashew nuts are one of the best sources of dietary copper.

5) May have cardiovascular health benefits

The pros (and cons) of cashew nuts (2)

Several studies suggest that cashews may have certain cardiovascular health benefits.

First off, there are two recent randomized controlled trials that have shown that a dietary intervention of 28-64 grams of cashews per day (13,14);

  • Reduce LDL and total cholesterol
  • Increase HDL levels

An improved non-HDL to HDL cholesterol ratio is associated with reduced cardiovascular risk, so this would be a beneficial change (fifteen,16).

However, it's worth noting that another similar study found that cashew nuts had no effect on markers of cardiovascular risk (17).

A larger evidence base is needed to more accurately determine these potential benefits.

key point:Cashew nuts may have a positive impact on markers of cardiovascular risk.

6) Moderate zinc

As we have already seen, cashew nuts are rich in many different minerals.

Zinc is another of these minerals concentrated in cashews, and one ounce provides 1.64 mg, which is about 15% of the daily value.

Zinc has numerous different functions and is particularly important for its immune-boosting properties.

In other words; Zinc helps fight infections, bacteria and viruses and generally helps keep the human body healthy (18).

In this regard, a systematic review and meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials showed that zinc may help reduce the duration of cold symptoms (19).

In addition, a systematic review found that higher zinc intake may have benefits in preventing the progression of age-related macular degeneration. However, the results were somewhat inconclusive (20).

key point:Cashew nuts contain good amounts of zinc, an essential mineral that is vital for optimal immune health.

7) May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Several studies show that tree nuts in general may have antihypertensive properties.

This also seems to apply to cashew nuts.

For example, a randomized controlled trial of 300 adults with type 2 diabetes found that cashew nut intake had benefits for blood pressure.

In this study, the consumption of 30 grams of cashew nuts per day for 12 weeks in addition to a standard diabetic diet led to a greater reduction in systolic blood pressure than the control diet (standard diabetic diet without cashew nuts) (21).

In fact, the systolic blood pressure of participants on the cashew nut diet dropped from 125.5 mm Hg to 121 mm Hg.

key point:According to studies, daily consumption of cashew nuts can lower blood pressure.

Possible concerns and disadvantages

Like all nuts, cashews have some potential side effects that may pose a problem for certain individuals.

Allergic reactions to cashew nuts

Unfortunately, in some rare cases, cashews can cause severe allergic reactions.

Because the allergens found in cashew nuts are so strong, these allergic reactions can even cause life-threatening anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) (22).

Due to the potency of cashew nut allergens, only minimal amounts are needed to produce side effects (23).

However, this risk of allergic reactions is not unique to cashews. Other real tree nuts suchalmonds,acorns, and hazelnuts can also cause severe reactions in this way.

In 2016, there were 6,937 diagnosed cases of tree nut anaphylaxis in the United States. About half of these people tested positive for cashew nut allergy (24).

In addition, anaphylaxis from cashew nut allergy is more common than anaphylaxis from peanut (74.1% to 30.5% of cases) (25).

key point:Allergic reactions to cashews can be very serious.

Cashew nuts are high in oxalates

Another potential downside of cashews is their high concentration of oxalates (oxalic acid).

Oxalates are relatively common in plant foods, but cashews contain a significant amount (26).

Duringusually not an issueIn healthy people, excessive intake of oxalate can occasionally cause problems in people with kidney problems or in those at risk of developing kidney stones (27,28).

In some cases, case studies show that cashew nuts have led to decreased kidney function. In one example, a 63-year-old woman suffered from progressive deterioration in kidney function, which improved after she stopped consuming cashew nuts (29).

Cashew nuts contain approximately 260 mg of oxalate per 100 grams. Most prescribed low-oxalate diets contain less than 50 mg of oxalate per day.

key point:Cashew nuts are not suitable for people on a low-oxalate diet.

Final Thoughts

In summary, cashews are a reasonably nutritious nut that is a good source of fat and minerals.

Because of this, a small serving of cashews can add many beneficial nutrients to the diet, and they're one of the healthier "snack" options.

As a bonus, these nuts taste delicious too.

For more about nuts,Check out this guide to the little-known pili nut.

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