Cashews are delicious and full of nutrients. A popular ingredient in vegan foods and Indian cuisine, cashews can be eaten raw, salted, added to salads or used to make rich, creamy sauces. Cashews are a staple nut, easy to find in stores and to add to all manner of foods. In addition to being versatile and tasty, they’re also chock-full of nutrients. Here are just a few health benefits of cashews:
Cashews are high in fat content, which is one of the reasons they are so important for vegans and vegetarians. These nuts aren’t composed of just any kind of fat, either—they’re rich in poly- and monounsaturated fats, major components of the Mediterranean diet that have been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol levels and promote heart health.
Healthline notes that replacing saturated fats, such as those found in animal products, with poly- and monounsaturated fats can help reduce your risk of heart disease. It’s healthy fat that leads most researchers to believe that the Mediterranean lifestyle is the healthiest one for heart health.
A Cascade of Vitamins
Cashews are also very rich in vitamins. The vitamins K, E and B6 are particularly prevalent in cashews and are associated with many different positive health outcomes.
Vitamin K is most notable for its role in blood clotting regulation. It also supports a healthy skeletal system. A fat-soluble vitamin, it is stored in the body’s fat deposits in the liver and elsewhere.
Vitamin E, which is also fat-soluble, helps the body utilize vitamin K and is also a protective antioxidant. Antioxidants, which are associated with cancer and aging protection, bind to free radicals in the body, neutralizing their effects. This handy vitamin also plays a role in red blood cell production, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Finally, vitamin B6 is also prevalent in cashews. The B-group vitamins are extremely important for good health, as they assist in metabolism (converting glucose, fats and protein into energy that can be used by the body). Vitamin B6 is one member of this important group, which are also known for supporting healthy hair, skin and nails.
A Host of Minerals
If anything can outdo cashews’ impressive reserves of vitamins, it’s their mineral content. Cashews contain copper, iron, magnesium and selenium, all of which are important for a healthy body.
Copper is extremely prevalent in cashews. Copper, like vitamin K, is important for blood health. It works together with iron to form red blood cells, according to Healthline.
Magnesium is beneficial for skeletal health. It is part of a trifecta of minerals (magnesium, calcium and potassium) that work together to deliver nutrients to bones, keeping them strong as people age.
Selenium, meanwhile, functions as an antioxidant. The University of Maryland states that it works in conjunction with vitamin E—these two nutritional powerhouses have the ability to neutralize free radicals.