Food Fact: Health Benefits of Cashew Nuts

Cashew nuts are a major agricultural produce in various parts of the world. The global annual production of cashew nuts is about 2.1 million tons per year with small scale farmers in various parts across the world accounting for the largest portion of cashew nut producers. Some of the main cashew nut producing regions in the world includes Africa, India, Vietnam and Brazil with India being the largest producer.

Moreover, most of the nuts consumed in the world are processed in India with the country accounting for approximately 60% of the global cashew nut processing. When it comes to the crop’s production, more than 1 million people in India are directly involved in cashew nut processing with more than 200,000 people being directly involved in cashew nut production. 

There is a significant mismatch when it comes to the crop’s production and consumption patterns. Despite accounting for the world’s largest cashew nut production, the African, Asian and South American regions do not constitute some of the product’s largest consumers. The leading cashew nut consumers are actually western countries with the United States and the UK accounting for the largest global cashew nut consumption. 

Uses of cashew nut

There are two main uses of cashew nuts and these are: consumption as food product and edible oil production. A significant portion of the global cashew nut produce is consumed as food. In African countries and parts of Asia, the product is usually consumed raw with little or no processing. However, consumption of the product in the US, UK and other western countries involves eating processed cashew nut seeds. The second use of cashew nut is edible oil production. The outer shell of the nut is rich in oil that can be harvested through various processing stages. This oil can then be used for a variety of domestic purposes including cooking and garnishing food.

Health benefits

There are several health benefits associated with cashew nut consumption which have made this crop become one of the most popular food products in the western world. First and foremost, cashew nut consumption reduces chances of contracting cancer. Precisely, cashew nuts are rich in proanthocyanidins, a flavonol substance that blocks the formation of cancer cells. This makes cashew nut an effective food product that can effectively be used to prevent cancer, especially, colon cancer. 

The second health benefits associated with cashew nut consumption is enhancement of cardiovascular health. This is because, cashew nut is a relatively low fat nut and as such, consumption of cashew nut is relatively healthier as compared to consumption of other types of nuts. 

Thirdly, cashew nut contains minerals that are essential in the promotion of proper bone formation. Precisely, cashew nut contains both calcium and magnesium. Calcium and magnesium are important for proper bone formation and generally, proper bone health. Moreover, by promoting proper bone formation and health, the calcium and magnesium contained in cashew nuts is also essential for the formation of healthier and stronger teeth. 

One of the key health benefits of cashew nuts is its ability to act as an antioxidant. The anti-oxidant quality of cashew nut is another crucial health benefit associated with the consumption of the product. Antioxidants play a crucial role when it comes to prevention of cell damage and by extension, prevention of cancer. This is because; antioxidants block the activities of free radicals which are harmful chemicals that if left unchecked, might damage the body’s cells and even cause cancer.