Cashews grow on towering, tropical evergreen trees (some measure more than 40 feet tall!), but these versatile nuts can also appear in salads, stir fries, and tofu bowls — and even transform into dairy-free yogurt, milk, ice cream, and queso dip.
Like other nuts, cashews provide a plethora of vitamins and minerals as well as filling protein and fiber. They're not only good for you, but also good for the planet, says Stefani Sassos, MS, RDN, Registered Dietitian for the Good Housekeeping Institute.
"All nuts provide a vegan source of protein that promotes a more plant-forward diet, making nuts a more sustainable choice when compared to red meat and other animal products," she says. Get the full lowdown on these nutrition-packed nuts below.
Serving Size: 1 ounce
9.2 grams carbohydrates
12.3 grams total fat
2.2 grams saturated fat
5.1 grams protein
12% DV vitamin K
10% DV iron
20% DV magnesium
17% DV phosphorus
11% DV zinc
31% DV copper
23% DV manganese
Health Benefits of Cashews
Not only do cashews taste great and work well in vegan dishes, but they can also boost your body in a number of ways:
Healthier immune system: Cashews are a good source of zinc and protein, two key ingredients to a stronger immune system.
Stronger bones: The micronutrients in cashews like phosphorus and magnesium contribute to bone health and growth.
How many cashews should I eat per day?
Stick to a 1 ounce serving (about ¼ cup) per day, Sassos recommends, and you'll reap all of the nutritional benefits of cashews.
Are cashews good for weight loss?
Yes, cashews can help support a healthy diet and prevent weight gain. "Cashews and nuts in general may be high in calories, but they are also nutrient-dense and packed with a slew of vitamins and minerals," Sassos explains.
In fact, multiple studies have found that consuming nuts regularly — especially in place of less healthy foods like red meat or refined carbs — can help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes. The high protein and fiber content in nuts help keep people feeling fuller for longer.
What are the healthiest nuts to eat?
While all nuts offer their own pros, almonds have the most fiber. They're also rich in Vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps support a healthy immune system.
"Brazil nuts are a less popular nut variety but are a serious nutrition powerhouse," Sassos adds. "They are an excellent source of selenium, which is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce risk of developing certain cancers." What's more, you only need to eat one Brazil nut to get an entire day’s worth of selenium.
Roasted pistachios also deserve a special call-out. These vibrant nuts are considered a complete source of protein since they contain adequate levels of all nine essential amino acids. "I also like that pistachios with the shell take some time to eat, forcing you to slow down during snack time and eat a bit more mindfully," Sassos says.
No matter which type of nut you choose, go for a raw or roasted version that's either unsalted or lightly salted. "Pay attention to the nutrition label and ingredients list," Sassos says. "The ingredients should really only include the nut itself — maybe salt and a little oil but that’s it. Avoid varieties with loads of added sugar and excessively high sodium counts."
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