Native to Brazil and used in everything from savory meals, to sweet desserts, to vegan cheese, cashews are one of the healthiest nuts you can eat. And because they’re actually a drupe (otherwise known as a stone fruit) and not a nut, they’re a “less frequent” allergen than peanuts and other tree nuts.
History Of Cashews
Cashews were used for their health purposes by the ancient Mayans, and began to be exported from Brazil around the 1500s. These days, the main cultivators of cashews are India, Vietnam and the Ivory Coast.
The fruit that grows out of the cashew flower (known as a “cashew apple,”) is actually edible, and is commonly made into a drink in Latin America. The cashew apple is said to have notes of mango, green pepper, and a bit of grapefruit.
Health Benefits of Cashews
With less fat than most other nuts, the majority of the fats that cashews do contain are monounsaturated fatty acids, the healthy kind of fat that’s essential for a steady metabolism. Additionally, the American Heart Association says monounsaturated fatty acids can help reduce “bad” cholesterol, and lower the risk for heart disease and stroke.
Cashews also have quite a lot of protein; one fourth of a cup of cashews contains five grams of it!
The average American diet is often lacking essential minerals (due to both soil depletion and the small amount of fruit and vegetables most people tend to eat during the day), but cashews contain a healthy amount of copper, magnesium, and zinc, as well as other trace minerals. Cashews also contain vitamin K and B vitamins.
Researchers have been looking into cashews’ ability to help regulate blood sugar and possibly help reduce the risk of diabetes, as well as their cancer-fighting abilities (proanthocyanidins, specific antioxidants found in cashews, may be useful in stopping the growth of cancer cells).
The Taste Of Cashews
Cashews have a light, nutty taste, which is why they’re often used in raw desserts and vegan cheeses. They’re perfect for giving your smoothie a creamy consistency without adding much flavor.
Where To Buy Cashews
Cashews are easy to find in most grocery stores. To keep their health benefits in tact, try to avoid the kind that are heavily salted or flavored.
Smoothie Recipes With Cashews
Because cashews add a ton of health benefits and a silky texture without much additional flavor, they’re perfect for green smoothies! Here are a few of our favorite smoothie recipes with cashews.
Reishi Cashew Power
Great for your immune system and liver, reishi mushrooms have been described as having “lifespan-extending properties” because they’re helpful in preventing abnormal blood vessels from forming. High in fiber, vitamins K and C, and antioxidants, collard greens are one of the most nutritious greens you can eat. Combine these ultra-potent foods with fiber from a pear, polyphenol-heavy grapes, and healthy fat and protein from cashews, and you’ve got the Fountain of Youth in a glass!
Butternut Ginger Snap
Low in fat but high in fiber, butternut squash is also full of potassium, B6 and folate. Lucuma is a natural sweetener that comes from South America, and has a good amount of fiber and iron per serving. Mix in some anti-inflammatory ginger, satiating almonds, and a sweet pear, and you have a pie-in-a-glass that will warm you up from the inside out.
Spiced Asian Pear
Even though Asian pears have a shape and texture similar to apples (round with a rough, spotted skin), they have the same nutritional profile as regular pears; high in fiber, potassium and vitamin K. Combining these sweet fruits with hemp protein and cashews (full of the “good fat” your body needs), along with bok choy and applesauce, creates a nutrient-dense snack that will keep you full for hours. Your metabolism will be happy too, as will your complexion, thanks to all the Omega-3 and protein.
Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake
If you’re looking for a sweet, creamy base for a smoothie, look no further than butternut squash, which packs a ton of vitamin A and fiber, but not a lot of calories. The “crust” for this pie comes in the form of cashews and banana (protein, good fat and potassium), and there’s a hint of additional sweetness from lucuma, a Peruvian superfruit that’s full of beta carotene. Add a dash of anti-inflammatory power from pumpkin pie spice, and you have a pie-in-a-glass that will curb even the toughest cravings.
If you’re looking for a light, refreshing snack or breakfast that will keep you satisfied without packing on the calories or fat, this smoothie is perfect! Both cantaloupe and pear have a good serving of fiber, stomach-soothing mint is bursting with antioxidants, and lemon and spinach are full of vitamin C. Cashews add a bit of healthy fat and protein, which means that even though you’re eating light, you’ll still have enough energy to get through even the longest of days!
Orange Kiwi Cream
One serving of this low calorie smoothie has more than 100 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin C and vitamin A, which means that it’s not just fantastic for your immune system, but your complexion as well. You’ll also get about seven percent of the daily amount of recommended calcium. Cashews add a dose of creaminess, as well as healthy protein and fat, making this the perfect snack for chasing away a sugar craving, and for helping your skin glow.
Baby bok choy contains vitamins A, C and K, all essential for a healthy complexion, as well as healthy bones. Apples are not only full of fiber, they contain the antioxidant quercetin, which has been shown in scientific studies to help lower inflammation and improve neurological health. Chamomile is also great for lowering inflammation, as are the Omega-3 fatty acids in cashews.
Honey Pomegranate Twist
Researchers have found that regular consumption of kiwi provides a “significant” protective effect against respiratory diseases, and the high vitamin C content makes it a significant immune booster as well. Punicalagin, a compound found only in pomegranates, has been shown to benefit the heart and blood vessels, and pomegranates have some of the highest antioxidant levels of any food. The combination of a high water content and potassium makes honeydew melon a great way to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Blend with heart-healthy cashews to make an antioxidant-rich drink that will keep you glowing (and going) all day long.
The immune-boosting combination of sweet strawberries (vitamin C, iodine, manganese), creamy squash (magnesium, fiber, folate) and cashews (vitamins E, K and B6), and the “topping” of anti-inflammatory cinnamon, iron heavy mulberries, and heart-healthy oats creates a smoothie that tastes sweet enough to be a dessert, but is healthy enough to drink for breakfast!