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All about Cashews

All about Cashews

Story by ROHANA OLSON | Photo by Maridav/DepositPhotos.com

Cashews are native to northeastern Brazil, and the United States consumes 90% of the world’s cashew crops. Cashews can be found with various nut mixes or served as part of an Hors d’oeuvre spread or a charcuterie board; they are a great snack, and are a versatile nut. They are low in cholesterol, sodium, and sugar, and pack the power with nutrients. 

Cashews have the highest content of copper than any other nut and due to the magnesium content in them, they can help with stress levels. They also carry a small amount of zeaxanthin, which promotes eye health; this flavonoid antioxidant protects the eye from macular degeneration in older adults. In a nutshell, cashews are incredibly rich in healthy mono-unsaturated fatty acids, commonly found in olive oil. When combined, all of these nutrients can provide a role in bone health, flexibility in joints, improving memory, and fight heart disease. Now, these are just some of the benefits found when adding cashews into your diet. As always, make sure to consult your doctor before making any alterations to your dietary regimen. 

Fun Fact: Did you know that cashews are actually a seed of the cashew apple — a fruit grown on a tree in Brazil?

When it comes to purchasing them, try to find raw cashews, and if they aren’t raw, the next best option would be plain dry-roasted. Look for bright cream-white, compact, and uniform nuts when raw. They should feel heavy in your hand. Cashews are more stable than other nuts but should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator — they typically keep for six months or throw them in the freezer for up to one year. 

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Cashews are versatile to cook with and work in both savory and sweet dishes. If you are following a dairy-free diet, cashew milk is the perfect substitute. It is easy to make your own by using a quarter cup of cashews to one cup of water. In a vegan diet, you can create “cheese” or purchase it for a spread. Cashews add a flavor profile that is light to any pasta sauce or even macaroni and cheese. A popular item of peanut butter can be replaced with cashew butter; throw a tablespoon in your next smoothie. Cashews are this amazing little nut where the opportunities to use in cooking are endless.

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