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Cashew Nut Benefits and recipes ideas. From Heart Health to Gorgeous Hair.

A popular ingredient finding its way into many Indian gravies, cashew – a plant
originating from Brazil, is a nut high in minerals. Brought to India by traders, the
cashew tree grows up to exceptional heights having a rather irregular trunk. 

Hanging from the branches are large juicy apples at the bottom of which are attached the cashew nut. Made available round the year, the nut has a great shelf life if stored properly. The nut and the fruit, both have multiple uses.

The nut, often known as the 
poor man’s plantation although now it is sold for steep prices, is used to make delectable and rich curries and also roasted and eaten dry. They are an intrinsic part of our festive celebrations too. Just imagine how incomplete Diwali celebrations would be without “kaju ki barfi”.

Back when nomads had no idea how to consume the 
fruit, the nut was discarded while the fruit was given more importance. A book written by SP Malhotra, World Edible Nuts Economy, points out, “Natives also knew of many

medicinal uses for the apple juice, bark and caustic seed oil that were later exploited
by the Europeans.”

Contrary to the popular belief that it can make you gain fat, a considerable amount of
cashews in your diet can provide you with many health benefits.

1. Heart Health

The National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in its case study points out
that nuts are likely to be beneficial for health, keeping a check on various ailments,
such as heart disease. Studies consistently show that nut intake has a cholesterol-

lowering effect, in the context of healthy diets, and there is emerging evidence of
beneficial effects on oxidative stress, inflammation, and vascular reactivity. Cashews
help lower LDL and increase the carrying capacity for HDL. HDL is responsible to
absorb the cholesterol from the heart and take it to the liver where it can be broken
down.

In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration had stated that a fistful of nuts a day as
part of a low-fat diet may reduce the risk of heart disease. The heart association
recommends four servings of unsalted, un-oiled nuts a week and warns against
eating too many, since they are dense in calories. Another study, published in the
New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), also establishes a significant association
between the consumption of nuts and a lower incidence of death due to heart
diseases, cancer and respiratory diseases. The study stated that nutrients in nuts,
such as unsaturated fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
may confer heart-protective, anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.

2. Prevents Blood Disease

The consumption of cashews on a regular basis and limited manner may help in
avoiding blood diseases. Cashew nuts are rich in copper, which plays an important
role in the elimination of free radicals from the body. Copper deficiency can lead to
iron deficiencies such as anemia. Hence our diet should contain recommended
quantity of copper. And cashew nuts are a good source. 

3. Protects the Eye

In the urban environment matched with its excessive pollution, our eyes often suffer
from various infections. Cashews contains a powerful antioxidant pigment called Zea
Xanthin. This pigment is readily and directly absorbed by our retina, says nutritionist
Anju Sood. This then forms a protective layer over our retina which prevents the
harmful UV rays. Dr Anshul Jaibahrat Bhatnagar says small quantities of Zea Xanthin
helps prevent age related macular degeneration in elderly and hence helps maintain
eyehealth.

4. Good for the Skin

Derived from the cashew seeds, “cashew oil does wonders for your skin,” says Gargi
Sharma, Manager Weight Management, Aayna. Cashew nut oil is rich in selenium,
zinc, magnesium, iron and phosphorous. Also, they are great sources of
phytochemicals, proteins and antioxidants. The high percentage of selenium in
cashews is not only good for your skin but “helps prevent cancer as well,” says
nutritionist Anju Sood.

5. Weight Loss

In comparison to diets excluding the intake of nuts, people consuming nuts on a
moderate and regular basis lose weight faster. Based on the evidence from
epidemiological and controlled clinical studies, nut consumption is not associated
with higher body weight. The study done by the Journal of Nutrition states that the
epidemiological evidence indicates consistently that nut consumers have a lower BMI
than non-consumers. With respect to clinical studies, the evidence is nearly uniform
that their inclusion in the diet leads to little or no weight gain. Moreover, nuts like
cashews are “packed with Omega 3 fatty acids that contribute to giving a boost to the
metabolic process to burn excess fat,” says Delhi-based nutritionist Shilpa Arora.
Nuts are a great snack for those who are looking to lose weight as they are nutritious
and tend to keep you full for a longer time. “Nuts should always be eaten raw and
unsalted, so they are beneficial for weight loss efforts,” adds Shilpa. 

6. Source of Dietary Fibres

According to studies, cashew nuts have a great percentage of dietary fibers. The two
essential dietary fibres required by our body are, oleic acid and palmitic acid. “These
fibers are not produced by our body hence they need to be consumed externally,”
says nutritionist Anju Sood. Cashew nuts are good sources of these fibers. Dietary
fibers help digest food better, however excessive consumption may cause bloating and significant intestinal gas production. Consumption of nuts like cashews have been related to decreased incidences of several digestive diseases.

  1. Healthy and Shiny Hair

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Experts say that the consumption of cashews as well as the application of cashew oil on your scalp ensures healthy hair. “Copper present in cashew nut oil helps in the production of skin and hair pigment called melanin,” says nutritionist Gargi Sharma. It also enhances hair colour and can provide a silky-smooth texture due to the presence of linoleic and oleic acids.

 

Cashew recipes ideas

Cashew Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1-3/4 cups chopped cashews
  • FROSTING
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half cream
  • 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Cashew halves

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375°. In a bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients; add alternately with sour cream to creamed mixture. Stir in chopped cashews. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. For frosting, lightly brown butter in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Add cream and vanilla. Beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth and thick. Frost cookies; top each with a cashew half.
Nutrition Facts

1 cookie: 100 calories, 5g fat (3g saturated fat), 12mg cholesterol, 85mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 0 fiber), 1g protein.

 

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