Latin name: Anacardium occidentale

What is a Cashew?
The delicately flavored cashew is a member of the flowering Anacardiaceae family, which includes the mango and the pistachio. The cashew is not actually a nut, but rather the kidney-shaped seed that adheres to the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree.

A small cashew tree grows up to 32 feet tall and is native to northeastern Brazil. The Portuguese took cashew trees to other tropical regions, including India and some African countries. For a long time it was widely grown in tropical climates for its prized wood and cashew apples, which are popular delicacies in Brazil and the Caribbean. The cashew “nut” finally became popular in the twentieth century.

What are the health benefits of Cashews?
Nutritionally, cashews are a good source of monounsaturated fats, copper, magnesium and phosphorus. Due to their high content of healthy monounsaturated fats, many studies have linked cashews with lower LDL cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of heart disease. Additionally, a quarter-cup of cashews provide nearly a quarter of your daily value for magnesium; this essential mineral benefits heart function, and has been said to relieve muscle cramps, aid in bone growth, soften stools, and protect skin from UV damage. Also, cashews are an excellent source of protein and a raw, natural source of energy.

Some tasty ways to enjoy cashews are in salads, stir-fry dishes, in nut butter form, or just by themselves.

Are there any precautions for Cashews?
Cashews are always sold shelled because the interior of the shells contains an allergenic phenolic resin, known as cashew balm, which must be carefully removed before the nuts can be eaten. This potent skin irritant is chemically related to the infamous oil urushiol, the toxin found in the related poison ivy. Because of this, some people experience an allergic reaction to cashews, though it is rare.

Where can I find Cashews?
Cashews can be found in most grocery stores.

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This entry was posted in Foods, Natural Health Dictionary.