Cashew nuts: Health benefits, facts and uses

Tuesday, April 25, 2017. Author Martin Cheifetz

Cashews: High protein, healthy fats and antioxidants

Disclaimer: Cashews are a tree nut. If you have a nut allergy, don’t eat them. If you don’t have a nut allergy, eat them. They’re delicious, nutritious, extremely versatile, and easy to incorporate into your nutrition plan.

Last week, we discussed a fruit that is used as a vegetable, so we’ll continue our theme of masquerading foods with cashew nuts. Kidney shaped cashew nuts are actually the seeds of the cashew apple, which is the fruit of the cashew tree. Cashew trees and apples are native to coastal Brazil and were spread to other parts of South America and Africa by Portuguese explorers and colonizers in the 16th century. The bitter tasting cashew apples, while not known in the U.S., UK, or Australasia, are regarded as delicacies in Brazil and the Caribbean and scientifically belong to the same family as the mango and pistachio nut.

Interestingly, unlike its relative the pistachio (and most other nuts), you’ll never find cashews sold in their shells. Why? The inside of the cashew shells contains a caustic resin known as cashew balm, which must be carefully removed before the nuts are fit for human consumption. Cashew balm is used in the production of varnishes and insecticides, but the prized cashew nut is an expensive delicacy that is perfectly safe for human consumption (providing you do not have a nut allergy).

 

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