With a buttery smooth texture and ultra-rich flavor, it’s not surprising in the slightest that cashews are the most popular nut in the United States. While you may know that they’re delicious, what you may not be aware of is the many positive effects eating cashews can have on your health. Not only are cashews high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats, but they also contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals that can benefit your body in many different ways.
Cashews aren’t just a convenient portable snack—they’re incredibly versatile, too. In fact, these kidney-shaped nuts can be made into non-dairy milk, cream, butter alternatives.
From better blood sugar control to a healthier heart, here are some of the effects you can expect from eating cashews. Then, be sure to read up on our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Many people wrongly assume that nuts are a no-no when you’re trying to shed pounds since they’re a calorie-dense, high-fat food. But in fact, a 2017 study in Nutrients revealed that people who regularly munch on nuts are more likely to maintain a healthy weight than those who don’t. This could be because nuts are incredibly satiating (thanks to a powerhouse combo of protein, fiber, and fats), thereby promoting weight loss.
While cashews taste ultra-rich, you may be surprised to learn that they actually have slightly less fat and calories than many other popular nuts, like almonds, peanuts, and walnuts. One serving of cashews contains about 137 calories on average, but a 2019 study published in Nutrients found that the human body may only absorb around 84% of these calories—because some of the fat they contain remains sealed within the nut’s fibrous wall.
More than 100 million adults in America—or nearly half the adult population—have high blood pressure. According to a 2019 study in Current Developments in Nutrition, however, eating cashews is linked to lower blood pressure. Cashew consumption was also linked to lower levels of triglycerides—a type of fat in the blood that can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease when levels are high.
Keep in mind, though, that not all cashews are created equal in this regard. Many packaged cashews come salted, and foods with excess salt have been linked to high blood pressure.
There are two types of cholesterol: LDL, the kind that causes harmful fatty buildups in your arteries, and HDL, the kind that can actually protect your heart by carrying LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and toward the liver.
Ideally, you want your ratio to show lower levels of LDL cholesterol and higher levels of HDL. And that’s where cashews come in: A 2017 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that incorporating cashews into your diet can decrease your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Not only that, but a 2018 study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that a diet rich in cashews increases levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol.
Along with cashews, here are 17 Foods That Lower Cholesterol.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.—above stroke, respiratory diseases, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s combined. Fortunately, a 2007 review published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that the risk of heart disease was 37% lower for those who eat nuts more than four times a week.
You may have already known that nuts can benefit your ticker, but cashews, specifically, may hold an advantage here. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that when people with type 2 diabetes ate 30 grams of raw, unsalted cashew nuts daily for 12 weeks, they experienced a decrease in cardiovascular risk factors: their blood pressure went down, and their HDL cholesterol went up.
The likely reason why cashews are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease is that they’re a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can help to reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
It probably goes without saying that what you eat can play a significant role in your body’s ability to keep your blood sugar levels in check. Adding cashews to your diet could have a significant positive impact on your blood sugar, whether you have diabetes or prediabetes.
In one 2019 study in the International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, people with type 2 diabetes who consumed 10% of their daily calories from cashews had lower insulin levels than those who didn’t eat any cashews—which is noteworthy given that keeping insulin levels down helps with blood sugar management. This may be due to the fact that cashews are so high in fiber, which can help to prevent blood sugar spikes by releasing glucose more slowly and steadily into the bloodstream.
Copper plays an important role in various functions throughout the body, including the regulation of heart rate and blood pressure, the production of red blood cells, the development of bone, blood vessels, and connective tissue, and activation of the immune system.
And guess what? One ounce of cashews contains a whopping 70% of your daily value for copper.
Nuts and seeds are well known for their impressive antioxidant content. Antioxidants are compounds that can neutralize damage-causing free radicals in your body, thus shielding your body from disease and reducing inflammation overall. Cashews, in particular, are an excellent source of two types of antioxidants: polyphenols and carotenoids. Note, however, that roasted cashews appear to have greater antioxidant activity than raw ones.
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