- Cashews are a delicious superfood high in magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc.
- Nuts like cashews are packed with valuable antioxidants to prevent disease and cell damage.
- Studies show that cashews improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels.
- Cashews contain healthy fats for optimal brain function and preventing depression.
Why are cashews considered a superfood?
Cashews are a nutritional powerhouse! Antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats – cashews have it all. These nuts are a valuable source of so many healthy nutrients, we have to call them a superfood. One serving of cashews has 70% of the recommended daily allowance of copper, which helps us make red blood cells and prevent bone loss.
Cashews are a great source of protein and iron for vegetarians and vegans to include in their diet. For omnivores, cashews contain heart-healthy fats that can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and improve HDL (good) cholesterol. Whatever diet we follow, cashews are a valuable superfood packed with minerals like magnesium and zinc that everyone needs.
How do cashews contribute to brain health?
Cashews contain brain-boosting healthy fats. Some people think a low-fat diet is optimal, but healthy fats are absolutely necessary for brain health, specifically monounsaturated fats found in nuts and seeds.
Our brains require more energy than any other organ in our bodies. In fact, the brain consumes 20% of the energy our bodies produce even though it only accounts for about 2% of our body weight. Dietary fats contribute to multiple brain processes including learning and memory.
Flavonoids found in nuts like cashews, almonds, and walnuts improve blood flow to the brain and assist with neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells, as well as cellular repair.
Cashews are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, which has been shown to increase the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is critical for cognitive function, and lower levels contribute to the memory problems associated with Alzheimer’s. Studies show that increasing monosaturated fat intake can give our brains protection against age-related cognitive decline and improve our learning capabilities.
How can cashews be good for heart health when they contain fat?
Cashews contain plant-based fats, which are different from the saturated and monounsaturated fats found in animal sources. Fats found in nuts and seeds are associated with lower risk of heart disease, especially when they can replace some of the animal fat in our diets.
Researchers at Harvard University looked at data from 90,000 participants over 22 years and found that diets higher in plant-based fats lowered overall mortality and disease rates.
Plant-based fats also lower bad LDL cholesterol and increase the carrying capacity of good HDL cholesterol. HDL absorbs cholesterol from the heart and takes it to the liver where it can be broken down. Diets too high in animal fat and lacking in healthy plant-based fats tend to lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Cashews contain a great dose of heart-healthy fats for lowering risk of heart disease, improving cholesterol, and reducing the effects of oxidative stress and inflammation.
As an added bonus, cashews are high in magnesium which helps keep blood pressure normal and heart rhythm steady. People who do not get enough magnesium are more likely to have elevated inflammation markers, which is associated with heart disease and certain cancers.
Cashews may relieve depression and anxiety? Yes!
Cashews are rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that not only improve our brain health, but they also boost our mood and reduce our risk of depression.
Cashews are one of the richest plant-based sources of the amino acid tryptophan, which improves the uptake of serotonin. Serotonin depletion can make us feel anxious or sad, but tryptophan helps us produce and use serotonin effectively. The Vitamin B6 in cashews also helps with the uptake of serotonin and aids magnesium in reaching our cells more effectively.
The brain-healthy fats in cashews that improve cognitive function and protect against memory decline can also help balance our mood and prevent depression. Adding a serving of cashews to your daily diet may help you not only perform better at cognitively challenging tasks, but it may improve your mood and motivation as well.
A versatile, tasty treat
Cashews can be enjoyed with just a touch of sea salt or used in savory and sweet recipes. They are loved by vegans for their versatility in creating creamy sauces, dips, and desserts. If you have a sweet tooth, cashews are delicious and when combined with rich chocolate in a protein bar or low-sugar dessert.
No matter what nutrition plan we follow, cashews will contribute much needed magnesium, iron, Vitamin B6, and heart-healthy fats to our diet. Most Americans do not get all the vitamins and minerals they need on a daily basis. Adding nuts and seeds to our daily diets can lower our disease risks, improve cellular repair, reduce inflammation, and build healthier hearts and minds.