In this issue of Good Health, Naturally– we will be discussing the health benefits of of the most popular seeds in the plant family, that is otherwise called as Cashew Nut. Belonging to the Anacardiaceae family, Cashew is scientifically known as Anacardium occidentale. Known is Tamil as Mundhiri parupu and Kaju in Hindi, cashew nuts are found abundant in all of our houses, but used very scarcely!
The etymology behind the name cashew nut reveals the fact that the name came to use from the original Portugese language (which was derived from Tupi) –acaju which meant the nut which produces itself. This 16th-century usage term slowly came to modern English as cashew. The scientific name Anacardium is from Greek originally which means unusual location of the seed outside the core or heart of the fruit (ana- means “again” or “backward” and -cardium means “heart”).
Cashew primarily belongs to Brazil (the Brazilian nut) and the largest cashew tree in the world is at Rio, Brazil. Since then they have travelled far and wide making inroads into Africa and Asia. Today the world’s top 5 cashew producing countries are Vietnam, Nigeria, India, Cote ‘Ivoire and Brazil.
The cashew tree produces a long, fleshy stalk, resembling pear At the end of this stalk grows the kidney-shaped cashew nut. The nuts are protected by an outer shell which contains a corrosive outing- which is the reason why cashews are not sold in the market with their outer shells like pistachios.
Nutritional facts about Cashew Nuts:
Cashew nuts are primarily consumed for their taste and the instant energy that they are known to give. A 100g serving of cashew nuts is known to produce 553kcal of energy. It’s got a high content of carbohydrates and fats (30 gms and 44 gms respectively). It is low on fibre content but is considered a storehouse of essential vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin K, Vitamin B5 and B6, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese and Zinc among others.
Consumption of cashew nuts or cashew-based products in large quantities is obviously avoided because its’ heavy on the fat component and the wallet! But small consumption of cashew nuts in simple forms on a regular basis is suggested as good for the health. You may want to check with your doc before you indulge on the cashew delicacies!
Cashew nuts are known for their high antioxidant content which is reportedly good for the heart. And it is said to work well with diabetic patients as the mono-unsaturated fats help to reduce the triglyceride levels. The copper content in cashew plays a role in a wide range of physiological processes including iron utilization, elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment called melanin. The high levels of calcium and magnesium regulate the nerve and muscle tone, help from regular muscle spasms and aid in bone strength. Reports also suggest regular intake if cashew reducing the risk of developing gallstones.
Cashews in Indian recipes:
Cashews have long been a part of the Indian household recipes. Though stashed away in a corner and used only on special occasions, they add a richness to the menu. Widely used in sweet dishes and payasams (in South India), cashews are ground to a paste with milk t enhance the rich taste and added to the sweet mixture that is being prepared. Children are often given small pieces of cashew for bone strength and energy and packing a few nuts in their tiffin box would be a great idea after long hours of play for your little ones. Even for certain North Indian gravy-based dishes, cashews are ground and mixed along with the gravy which gives it the rich taste, much preferred. Now you know why the simple gravys cost more in restaurants! Open that packet of cashews an indulge in some good health, today.