THE cashew nut is an oilseed rich in monounsaturated fats, known as “good” fats for the body. The cashew fruit can be an ally in the diet of individuals seeking prevent chronic diseases non-communicable and better quality of life.
The food, rich in nutrients, can even work as an ally against the premature aging, anemia, in addition to improving the health of the skin, nails and hair.
Nuts can be found in different formats on the market, in bulk or in portions. The most common is the natural fruit, but it is also possible to find it roasted, with or without salt, caramelized, etc. For the versatility and neutral flavor, it is also used for the preparation of derivatives, such as vegetable drinks, flour and pasta.
Despite the numerous benefits, consumption of the oilseed also needs some cares, as with toxicity and the possibility of contributing to weight gain.
Cashew Nut Properties
The cashew fruit, family plant Anacardiaceae originating from Northeast region from Brazil, it is rich in important vitamins for the healthy functioning of the body. According to nutritionist Jamile Tahim, the food is rich in nutrients that contribute positively to consumer health.
“Its composition gives it an important antioxidant capacity, besides being a highly energetic food”, says the professional.
The antioxidant property helps to fight the free radicals — highly unstable molecules, which, when in excess in the body, can cause the oxidation of healthy cells — associated with the development of chronic pathologies, such as some types of cancer and Parkinson’s.
Cashew Nut Nutrients
“Cashew nuts have high nutritional value, as they are an oleaginous source of amino acids, carbohydrates, fats — oleic, linoleic and linolenic acid — B complex vitamins, vitamin A and E, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, copper, selenium and potassium”, list Tahim.
The specialist also highlights that in addition to the high nutritional value and bioactive compounds, cashew nuts are “very versatile”, enabling the introduction into the diet in several ways.
“It can be included in the diet through intermediate snacks, vegetable and fruit salads, vitamin recipes and nutritious dumplings. Cashew nuts can also give rise to other nutritious products such as vegetable drinks, flour and pasta”, he details .
What are the benefits?
Cashew nuts contribute to the prevention of chronic non-communicable diseases and for the proper functioning of the body. The nutritionist lists the main benefits of the food mentioned in the literature.
- Heart Diseases and Dyslipidemias: the adequate consumption of cashew nuts plays a cardioprotective role, improving the lipid profile due to the presence of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, reducing the risk of pathologies;
- Prevention of premature aging and skin health and hair, for its antioxidant action (against free radicals) and the presence of vitamin A and E;
- glycemic control: regular consumption helps to modulate the amount of sugar in the blood, which can help prevent and treat diseases such as diabetes;
- feeling of satiety: due to its high energy and nutritional value, cashew nuts help to increase the feeling of satiety, which can help with weight control.
- bowel functioning: as it is an important source of fiber, food improves intestinal transit;
- Immune system: strengthens the body’s natural defenses through vitamins and minerals with antioxidant and immunomodulating effects such as vitamin E, selenium and zinc;
- Treatment of migraines and prevention of depression: food has a supporting role in preventing headaches and the condition of the disorder due to the presence of B vitamins, zinc, selenium and magnesium, which are essential for the proper functioning of the central nervous system and neurotransmitter cofactors.
However, Tahim warns: “it is essential to emphasize that the therapeutic actions of the consumption of cashew nuts are noticed when inserted in a balanced, varied and healthy eating habit”.
Including the fruit in the diet, as well as other oilseeds, represents one of the “important actions for the prevention of non-communicable chronic diseases, by increasing the antioxidant capacity of the diet through the consumption of sources of bioactive compounds”, says the nutritionist.
How much can you eat a day?
According to the specialist, the amount indicated for the consumption of cashew nuts “should respect the individual need and be guided by the nutritionist”. However, Tahim indicates that the pattern is equivalent to eight units of fruit per day.
“Considering a diet for a healthy population of 2,000 kcal, you can consider an average portion of 20g per day, which is equivalent to eight units”, he says.
Which is healthier: Brazil nuts or cashew nuts?
Knowing which of the oilseeds offers more benefits to the body is a common question. But, as the nutritionist clarifies, even the cashew nut and the Brazil nut have different compositions, both are sources of bioactive compounds that are “fundamental” to the proper functioning of the organism.
“There is no relationship that one can be better than the other, each has its functional properties and can be included in the diet in a healthy way, it is essential to pay attention to the portion, that is, the amount ingested according to need”, explains.
Despite its rich nutritional value, the fruit should be consumed in moderation and respecting individual needs, as, according to the professional, the excess is harmful, not only because of the calories, but also because of the chemical composition of the food.
“Food can promote weight gain within a food routine that exceeds the individual’s need, that is, if the person consumes an amount of calories greater than their total energy expenditure, the diet favors weight gain, by this is the importance of nutritional monitoring to guide food consumption, respecting individuality and the goals of health and aesthetics”, explains Tahim.
According to the nutritionist, 20g of nuts, equivalent to an average serving of eight units, contains about 3.6g of protein, 8.8g of lipids (fats) with 4.8 monounsaturated fatty acids, 6.0 of carbohydrates and 116Kcal.
Jamile Tahim is a nutritionist, graduated in Nutrition from the University of Fortaleza (UNIFOR), Master’s student in Health Nutrition from the State University of Ceará (Uece), specialist in Clinical Nutrition and Applied Phytotherapy, as well as a specialist in Nutrition in Nephrology.