Most people say that unhealthy food tastes the best. But there are always exceptions, and one of the best exceptions is raw cashews. Not only are cashews delicious and versatile, but they have a number of health benefits as well. From an on-the-go snack to a dairy substitute to a dinner ingredient, cashews can be added to your diet in a number of ways without any guilt. Read on to learn about why cashews are one of the healthiest nuts to add to your diet and how you can benefit from our tried and true sustainable cashew practices.
Where Cashews Come From
You may not think about the source of your cashews as a part of their health benefits, but their journey to your cabinet can have a real impact. Where cashews come from matters! It may surprise you to learn that cashews are not actually a nut, but are something known as “drupe seeds” which grow on the ends of a fruit called cashew apples. Cashew apples perish so quickly they’re not often accessible globally, but the harvested seed is opened and processed to become the raw cashews you can buy from consumption in your home.
Cashew trees typically grow in tropical climates like Brazil, Indonesia, or parts of Western Africa, and cashews are exported to other countries from there. Traditionally, cashews were sent from their place of origin to other countries like Vietnam to be processed before being sold to distributors. These practices are very labor-intensive and often involved underpaid, if not indentured, labor to create the final product of raw cashews. Even with their health benefits, cashews’ traditional supply chain process can be unhealthy in larger ways.
At Beyond the Nut, we empower local communities in West Africa to not only harvest cashews, but also to complete the processing themselves, keeping the power and money in the hands of the local farmers who work so hard to grow and harvest these delicious nuts. Raw cashews from Beyond the Nut are good for the world in addition to being good for you!
Cashew Nutritional Facts
So what are the benefits of eating cashews? Like many nuts, cashews are high in healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and protein, all important elements to keeping you healthy. They also have some additional minerals that are good for your health.
One ounce of cashews, about 18 nuts, is considered a serving, and this amount of cashews has the following nutritional values:
- Calories: 157
- Total Fat: 12 g, including 2 g saturated
- Dietary Fiber: 0.9 g
- Protein: 5 g
- Carbohydrates: 9 g
- Magnesium: 83 mg
- Manganese: .47 mg
- Copper: .62 mg
- Iron: 2 mg
- Zinc: 1.6 mg
Health Benefits of Cashews
Because cashews are high in healthy fats, including mono- and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, they have a number of major health benefits. Cashews can be linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, as well as lowered LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels and higher HDL “good” cholesterol levels.
Cashews have been touted by the American Diabetes Association as a “diabetes superfood” because of their nutritional qualities that can benefit a diabetic. The high levels of good fat and protein, along with low levels of carbohydrates and sugar, can improve blood glucose control. Eating raw cashews regularly can help lower insulin levels. Additionally, many people with Type 2 Diabetes have low levels of magnesium, which cashews can provide.
If your health goals include weight loss, nuts are one of the best categories to help you achieve these goals. Even though they contain fats, they are good fats that can fuel and energize your body. Additionally, the protein in cashews helps you stay full longer and prevents you from snacking on other, less healthy options. They are slow to digest, making them a strong contrast to carbohydrate-based snacks and leaving you feeling more satisfied for longer.
Cashews can also be used as a substitute for other, less healthy options, like milk or butter, when cooking, baking, or meal prepping in order to meet dietary needs.
Keeping Cashews Healthy
Raw cashews naturally contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and health benefits for those who choose to eat them. In order to make cashews safe to eat, there is a large supply chain of workers who work to remove the cashew from its shell, which may contain toxins. In many parts of the world, these workers are treated poorly and underpaid. At Beyond the Nut, not only are our cashews high quality and ready to eat, but you can rest assured they are produced safely and ethically, with as much profit as possible going directly toward the farmers and processors.
All of our products are fair trade, gluten-free, GMO-free, vegan, and produced by local farmers and workers to empower our community and theirs.