National Cashew Day: Go Nuts!

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

One of the things we love about The National Day Calendar is that sooner or later, everything we like gets its own special day. Like tomorrow, which is both National Espresso Day and National Cashew Day, days designed to celebrate those very things. We’ll post more tomorrow about new health reasons to love espresso, and today we’ll spend some time celebrating the health benefits of cashews.

Let’s say this right up front: cashews are delicious. Their delicious, slightly sweet flavor and luxurious mouth feel make them a perfect between-meal snack, or an addition to stir fries, shrimp dishes and cereals. Part of what makes cashews taste so good is their fat content. But there’s good news about the fat: about 82 percent of the fat contained in a cashew is unsaturated fatty acid, about two-thirds of which is heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), just like olive oil. That fat content makes cashews fairly calorie-dense: one-quarter cup of cashews (two ounces) carries 221 calories, so go easy on them.

Although you’ll find them in the nut section of your favorite store, cashews are actually the seeds of the cashew apple, a delicacy in the tree’s native Brazil, as well as in the Caribbean. You’ll never see cashews sold in-shell, because the shells contain a caustic resin called cashew balm that needs to be safely removed before consumption; the resin is used to make varnishes and insecticides.

Cashews are a great source of some important dietary minerals. That two-ounce serving of cashews provides almost 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of copper, a key component of many enzymes, and essential to iron utilization. They’ll also provide you with about a third of your RDA of magnesium, like calcium an important component of bones.

Want more? Cashews may also help prevent gallstones and may even help calm jittery nerves. So enjoy.