Kidney-shaped cashew nuts have been used largely in Indian cuisine in dessert preparations like yummy kaju katli, as a garnish and even in gravies adding a rich, slightly sweetish tinge to the dish. Whole cashew nuts are also added to food items in some regions like Goa and consumed as an evening snack too. Since it has such a huge presence in Indian kitchens, we asked our expert and well-known nutritionist Neha Chandna to tell us more about its health benefits. Read on
Health benefits of cashew nuts
Keep your heart healthy: Cashew nuts are rich in good fats and have zero cholesterol which helps lower LDL, the bad cholesterol, and triglyceride making one's heart healthy. Many think that cutting out fat intake is good for our body which is untrue. Our body needs nutrients from all food groups including fats; all you need to do is get it from good sources like kaju instead of unhealthy ones. (Read: Take the natural route to heart health home remedies that work!)
Make your body stronger: They are rich in magnesium which is required for strong bones, proper muscle and nerve functioning. Our bodies need a daily intake of about 300-750 mg of magnesium as it helps regulate the amount of calcium absorbed by our bones.
Keep BP under control: These nuts are low in sodium and high in potassium and thus keep blood pressure under check. When there is excess sodium, the body retains more water which causes the volume of blood to increase in turn increasing the blood pressure. (Read:
How to reduce salt intake)
Reduced risk of cancer: Cashew nuts also contain antioxidants like selenium and vitamin E which prevent free radical oxidation, reduce the risk of cancer and boost immunity. Since they are rich in zinc, they help fight infections.
Important for body functions: Their high copper content plays an important role in enzyme activity, hormone production, brain function, etc. Copper is also needed for the production of red blood cells to prevent anaemia.
How often should one eat them?
Though these are absolutely delicious and difficult to stop eating after just a few, remember control is the key to good health. Eating between 5-10 pieces is enough for a day. You can eat them in two batches as a healthy snack to replace your junk food cravings. But keep in mind, excess consumption can lead to weight gain so eat within limits.
Should they be avoided in any particular season?
Earlier, there was a belief that nuts generate body heat and should be avoided in summer months. While anything is excess is bad for the body, a few nuts have more health benefits than health issues. Stick to a handful and you can enjoy them in every season.
Should people will certain conditions avoid them all together?
Everyone can eat cashew nuts except people who are allergic to nuts or get a migraine headache due to them.
There are different varieties of cashew nuts like salted or roasted ones. Are they any good or should one stick to the plain ones?
You get a wide variety of cashew nuts coated with different masalas, salted, herbed, honeyed, etc. It all depends on your taste buds, choices and health goals. If you suffer from hypertension, avoid salted ones. If you are on a weight loss goal, avoid honey-coated ones. Take your pick wisely or simply stick to the plain variety. (Read: 6 healthy salad dressing recipes for weight loss )
Do they have any ill-effects?
There are no ill-effects of cashew nuts as such but one must not forget that they are rich in calories and so not too many should be eaten at a time. In some cases, they can cause an allergic reaction which may show different symptoms for different people including vomiting and diarrhoea, swelling, skin rashes, difficulty in breathing, etc. If you experience any of these after eating them, it is best to discontinue and see a doctor.