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Cashews have been so dear to us that we gulp them down first thing from the lot of all dry fruits. This article is about Cashew Nuts and all that which makes it so tasty and healthy.
7 Nutritional and Health Benefits of Cashew Nuts
At the end of the day, we’re all concerned to know about how the things we eat work to the advantage or to the disadvantage of our health. And that is I guess the main reason we tend to read up these articles, to gain an insight into the value that food items add to our bodily health and well-being.
A Healthy Heart:
Studies have shown that nut intake has a cholesterol-lowering effect. It has beneficial effects on oxidative stress, inflammation, and vascular reactivity. Cashews help lower LDL and increase the carrying capacity for HDL. HDL is responsible to absorb the Cholesterol from the heart and take it to the liver where it can be broken down. You may have seen your grandma stop your father from eating too many cashews or cashew loaded sweets while quoting that they increase the cholesterol levels in the blood. Well, she is not completely wrong. While Cashews could help the cholesterol be absorbed and broken down by the liver, an over eating of it is also not too favourable for the body. The heart association recommends four servings of unsalted, unoiled nuts a week and warns against eating too many, since they are dense in calories.
Prevents Blood Disease:
The consumption of cashews on a regular basis and limited manner may help in avoiding blood ailments. Cashew nuts being rich suppliers of copper, play an important role in the elimination of free radicals from the body. Copper deficiency can lead to iron deficiencies such as anemia. Hence our diet should contain recommended quantity of copper.
Cashew nuts contain a powerful antioxidant pigment called Zea Xanthin. This pigment is readily and directly absorbed by our retina. This then forms a protective layer over our retina which prevents the harmful UV rays.
Cashews are rich in anti oxidants and thus prove very beneficial to the skin as they are instrumental in avoiding many skin problems. Cashew nut oil is rich in selenium, zinc, magnesium, iron and phosphorous which could make your skin flawless and shining.
Yes, you read that right. People consuming nuts on a moderate and regular basis tend to lose weight faster. Despite popular belief, studies have illustrated that nut consumption is not associated with spurting body weight. Many nutrionists believe that nuts like cashews are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acid that contribute to giving a boost to the metabolic process to burn excess fat.
Your source of Dietary Fibers:
Dietary Fibers help digest food better. According to studies, Cashews have a great percentage of dietary fibers. The two essential dietary fibers required are, oleic acid and palmitic acid. These fibers are not produced by our body hence they need to be consumed externally. Cashew nuts are good sources of these fibers.
Key to Beautiful Shining Hair:
Expert’s advice state that the consumption as well as the application of the oil extracted from cashews on our scalp ensures healthy hair. Copper present in the oil helps in the production of skin and hair pigment called melanin which is responsible for providing the hair a rich colour.
Cultivation of Cashew Nuts:-
The species was initially cultivated in northeastern Brazil. Portuguese colonists in Brazil began exporting cashew nuts in the 1550s. Major production of cashews takes place in Vietnam, Nigeria and India.
The cashew is a strong plant that is well grown in sandy soils. The preferred soil for cultivation is usually deep, well-drained sandy or sandy-loam soil . Cashew trees will not grow in poorly-drained soils. Cashew Seeds are formed by self pollination as well as cross pollination. Growth and production of cashew trees can be enhanced by establishing clonal orchards, and improving fertilising and irrigation practices.
Climatic requirements for Cashew Nuts:
- Cashew trees grow mainly in tropical and sub-tropical climate.
- The trees grow in a wide spectrum of climatic regions.
- A monthly mean temperature of 25 °C is optimal for its growth.
- 1,000 mm of rainfall is sufficient for production .
- The cashew tree has a well-developed root system and can tolerate drought conditions.
- Cashew Nuts germinate within 4 days when lying on wet soil.
Flowering to Harvest Time:
Flowering is influenced by weather conditions and also varies from tree to tree, it continues for a period of 3 months. The higher the temperatures, the earlier the flowering. Insects are instrumental in bringing about pollination. After pollination it takes 6 to 8 weeks for the fruit to develop. The nut develops first while the apple develops and enlarges only 2 weeks before fruit fall. Nuts are harvested without wasting any time.
Irrigation is important during establishment of young trees because it doubles the growth tempo of young trees in a dry season. Due to the deep root system the trees can survive several months without irrigation. Mature trees should receive 1500 ltrs. to 2000 ltrs. of water.
The next stage in the cultivation of cashews is that of Drying. Not to mention, it is a crucial stage as the cashew nuts are actually what we call “dry fruits”. Harvested nuts are dried in the sun for a few days. Properly dried nuts can be stored for 2 years before being shelled.
Following the process of drying, is the process of Shelling and then removal of testa which is a papery seed coat. Not going too much into the details of how these processes take place, we directly come to the food items which can be made from Cashews.
Uses of Cashew Nuts
Cashews are widely consumed. It is eaten on its own, used in recipes, or processed into cashew cheese or cashew butter. The cashew apple is a light reddish to yellow fruit, the extracted pulp of which can be processed into a sweet, fruit drink or distilled and utilized for liquor production.
- Cashews are commonly used in the kitchens in India to enhance the taste of their cuisines,
- They are used as a whole for garnishing sweets or curries,
- When ground into a paste, they form an excellent base of sauces for curries
- Cashews are lip smacking when used to make sweets like kaju katli or kaju barfis usually a delicacy in India.
- It is also used in powdered form in the preparation of several Indian sweets and desserts.
- Cashews especially form a crucial taste factor in the food in Goa, both roasted and raw kernels are used whole for making curries and sweets.
- Cashews are also used in some preparations in Thai and Chinese cuisines.
- In the Philippines, turrones de casuy a sweet dessert wrapped in white wafers is made using cashews.
- In Mozambique, powdered cashews and mashed potatoes form the main ingredients of a cake called bolo polana . This dessert is popular in South Africa.
- In parts of Brazil, the cashew fruit juice is popular. Brazilians prefer consuming the fruit to the nut.
- In Panama, the cashew fruit is cooked with water and sugar for a prolonged time to make a sweet, brown, paste-like dessert called dulce de marañón, with marañón as a Spanish name for cashew.
- While we discuss the various food items made using cashews, the famous and exotic beverage, feni which forms a part of the Goan culture deserves a special mention here.
We’ve had an insight into the food items made using cashews, how cashews are grown, which climate suits it’s cultivation and all of the nutritional advantages it serves for our health. In the entire article, it has been time and again mentioned that the key to have cashew to work in favour of our health is moderation. As long as you have a balanced nutritional diet coupled with adequate exercise, there’s no stopping you from claiming the various benefits of all that you consume. Keep eating, but just in moderation!