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Nuts and seeds are part of the foundation of a healthy diet thanks to their health benefits and versatility in our culinary creations. However, not all nuts and seeds have the same nutritional composition which is why we should eat them with caution. Although we try not to count calories, nuts are foods that are so easy to eat that we often eat a large amount in one sitting without even realizing it, making us unable to fully take advantage of these wonderful foods.
I personally go nuts over cashews (no pun intended haha)! But, they’re a highly debated fruit (yes, fruit!) amongst those who follow a 100% natural diet because it is not really a nut and its presence of phytic acid or phytates – a substance present in plants to store phosphorus – can act as an anti-nutrient in our body. However, when consumed correctly, they can be very beneficial and help us. Cashews are particularly versatile because you can make vegan “yogurt” and even “cheese” just using this fruit. In fact, they are a star player in my gofres recipe.
This fruit grows on trees and, if you have ever gone to buy them and freaked out over how expensive they were, it’s because they grow from a fruit called “Brazilian Apple” that is picked by hand. In addition, the cashew rind is inedible because it’s toxic, so collecting them is an arduous task. Nowadays, they’re very popular and are available in almost any country around the world. I’d like to share with you some of their health benefits and how you can make the most of this fruit:
- Cashews are a very good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals that protect our bodies from diseases and cancer.
- They are rich in monounsaturated fats that are good for our heart which lowers bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol in the blood.
- They contain important minerals such as manganese, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium in highly concentrated amounts.
- They have a good number of vitamins such as B5, B6, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamin B1; which is essential in metabolizing proteins, fats and carbohydrates at the cellular level.
- They carry a percentage of Zeaxanthin which is an important antioxidant that helps prevent eye diseases and the degeneration of vision with old age.
- They are one of the few foods that contain copper, a mineral that plays an important role in the production of collagen and elastin, necessary to replace tissues.
How to incorporate them into your diet:
- Use them to make nut butter that gives smoothies and other desserts a rich texture, in addition to the nutritional benefits already mentioned.
- Toast them in the oven, then crush them into small pieces to add a crunchy touch to beef, poultry, or fish dish and even a salad.
- Grind them up and make cashew flour, which is ideal to replace conventional flour in desserts and other dishes.
- Make plant-based milk, cheese, or cashew yogurt through a soaking process.
Eat them correctly:
- Avoid eating more than a handful, especially if you eat them alone as it’s easy to lose sight of how much you’re actually eating. If it is in its butter form, a tablespoon is an appropriate amount.
- Store cashews in a cold place, in a pressurized container that keeps them dry because if they’re greasy they can go bad very quickly.
- Cashews can be stored for several months at room temperature and up to two years in the freezer.
Whatever you call them – Cashews, Anacarde, Cajou, or East Indian Almond – they are a nut that is worth experimenting with. Tell us how you like to eat them in the comments below!