Nuts fact: know all about the amazing cashews & the origin.

Nuts Fact: Know All About the Amazing Cashews & The Origin

May 31, 2024

Cashews are one of the most popular nuts in Singapore, prized for their versatility and seemingly dull appearance, yet delicious taste. You may have also guessed incorrectly about their origin and might be unaware of how they appear before processing.

Furthermore, they are highly nutritious, providing essential nutrients that benefit our health, and there are numerous ways they can be added to our diet.

8 Facts About Cashews

Here are eight facts about the amazing cashews, including their origin, taste, appearance, health benefits, and uses in cooking and as snacks. Join us as we explore these facts to discover more about this delicious and nutritious nut.

1. Where are Cashews Originally From?

You might be wondering where cashews originated from, and the answer is Brazil, South America. However, some countries have gained prominence as top exporters of cashew nuts, including Vietnam and India.

This could be one of the reasons why many people mistakenly believe that cashew nuts come from Southeast Asia. However, they are produced and processed in many other countries globally.

2. Cashew Tree is known as Anacardium Occidentale

Cashew tree has a scientific name called Anacardium Occidentale.

The scientific name of the cashew tree is Anacardium Occidentale. It is an evergreen tree that thrives in tropical climate zones.

Anacardium Occidentale can grow up to 12 meters tall, which is about seven times the height of an average person (1.7 meters). This makes it a tall tree!

The tree bears the cashew apple and the cashew nut, with the nut encased in a hard shell at the bottom of the apple.

3. Are Cashews a Nut or a Fruit?

Interestingly, cashews are known as drupe, a type of fleshy fruit with a hard shell enclosing its seed. So, to answer the question: cashews are neither a nut nor a fruit; they are seeds!

Compared to the fruit, cashew nuts are harvested more extensively due to their commercial feasibility. As a result, the fruit is not commonly found in supermarkets.

4. How Cashews Taste & Look?

Cashews taste & appearance.

Cashew nuts may have an ordinary and plain appearance, but they boast a unique taste, texture, and aftertaste. Unlike the typical nutty flavor, they offer a mild, sweet, creamy, and rich buttery taste.

Cashews are either roasted or naturally baked, and they can also be found with unique toppings such as honey, satay, or sambal, which enhance their flavor even further!

5. Nutrition of Cashews

Cashews are rich in nutrition, providing protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Here's the nutrient profile based on one ounce (28 grams) of roasted cashews:

  • Calories: 163 per 28g serving
  • Protein: 4.3g
  • Total Fat: 13.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 9.3g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0.85g
  • Copper: 70% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Magnesium: 18% DV
  • Phosphorus: 11% DV
  • Zinc: 14% DV
  • Manganese: 10% DV
  • Iron: 9% DV
  • Vitamin K: 8% DV
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): 7% DV
  • Folate (Vitamin B9): 5% DV
  • Thiamin (Vitamin B1): 5% DV
  • Potassium: 3% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 4% DV

Cashews are particularly rich in copper, magnesium, zinc, and fat, which support various aspects of our body's health and maintenance.

6. Health Benefits of Cashews

From the nutrient profile, below are a few highlighted essential nutrients found in cashews that support various aspects of bodily health that includes brain, heart and immune system.

Support Brain Health & Nerve System

Copper from cashews are important for brain development. It helps our brain work by aiding special enzymes that send messages between our body and brain.

Our brain needs healthy nerve cells to function properly. Magnesium helps these cells work well by regulating how messages are sent between them. This protects our brain from damage and keeps our thinking and memory sharp. Magnesium also helps calm our nerves, lowering stress and anxiety.

Support Heart Health

Cashews provide healthy fats such as polyunsaturated fats, also known as Omega-3 and Omega-6, are healthy fats that benefit our heart health. They help keep our arteries clear, reduce blood clotting, and lower the risk of heart disease.

When it comes to heart health, cholesterol is an important factor to consider. Cholesterol comes in "good" and "bad" types. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is the good type, while low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the bad type.

Monounsaturated fats help increase HDL cholesterol, which assists in removing LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream and transporting it to the liver for processing. This helps reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and improve blood flow.

Support Immune system

By improving our immune system, our body becomes stronger and less vulnerable to illness. Zinc minerals from cashews play a crucial role in growing and developing immune cells to fight infections. They help our immune cells recognize and combat germs they've encountered before.

When we're sick, zinc also aids in repairing our immune system to address the damage caused by the infection. Overall, it provides an energy boost to our immune system, enabling it to work more efficiently to keep us healthy.

7. Raw Cashews Contain Toxin

Raw cashews (unprocessed) naturally contain a toxin called urushiol, which can be found on the cashew shell and nuts. Symptoms of contact with this toxin include:

  • Skin rash.
  • Itchy and inflamed bumps.
  • Burning sensation.
  • Swelling.

However, commercial cashew nuts undergo heat processing such as roasting or baking, which helps remove urushiol from the nuts. For example, our naturally baked cashews are gently baked, and this process also minimizes nutrient loss.

This is why you don't find full-shelled cashews in supermarkets. While you may see "raw" cashews on packaging, these products have undergone heat treatment to remove urushiol for consumption.

8. Versatile Use of Cashews

Cashews made into a homemade milk.

Cashew nuts are exceptionally versatile with many uses, and they are widely utilized in commercial businesses such as restaurants. While they can be enjoyed as a delicious and nutritious healthy snack on their own, they are also excellent ingredients for cooking and baking.

Here are some examples of how cashews can be used in cooking and baking:

  • Making homemade cashew butter spread.
  • Adding cashew nuts to cookies or cakes for texture and flavor.
  • Blend them with water to make homemade cashew milk.

So, it's up to your creativity to make use of cashews and create unique dishes and pastries, or to complement them with other foods.

Are Cashews Good for You?

Camel Cashews in Roasted or Natural Baked Product

Now that we've covered eight facts about cashews, are you intrigued to buy them? Many others are!

Being one of the favorite nuts in Singapore, cashews are a nutritional powerhouse, providing essential nutrients such as copper, magnesium, zinc, and healthy fats that support several aspects of our body's health.

These little nuts can support heart health, brain health & nervous system, and immune system functions. They are readily available in supermarkets and affordable.

Cashews can be added to our diet beyond just snacking; they can be added to salads or used creatively with other foods.

Most importantly, nuts are nutrient-rich, but they should be consumed in moderation. It's easy to overconsume nuts without proper portion control, as they can be addictive. A recommended daily serving of nuts is just a handful.

Reference List

  1. USDA FoodData Central.
  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  3. National Parks Board Singapore.
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
  5. HealthHub Singapore.
  6. Healthline.
  7. PubMed Central.
  8. Healthline.

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