Cashew Nutrition in a Nutshell

Jessica Jones-Hughes
February 20, 2013
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At Equal Exchange, we are thrilled to open up a new supply chain: organic cashews grown by small-scale farmers in El Salvador. Delicious, sustainably grown, revolutionary for the nut trade - and they’re a healthy snack. What more could you ask for in a product? 

Cashew Nutrition 101
Over the years, nuts have sometimes been viewed negatively due to their high fat content. While nuts do contain a high percent of fat, the fats found in nuts, especially tree nuts like cashews and almonds, are full of what dietitians refer to as “healthy fats,” or, scientifically, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Good news: these are fats you want to include more often in your diet. 
 
Why? Fat is an essential nutrient in our body. It provides energy, insulates and helps your body regulate temperature, increases your body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates and protein, helps make other essential fats for your body, and the list goes on. Fat only becomes an issue when we eat too much or the wrong type of fat. The USDA dietary guidelines recommends replacing saturated fat options (most often found in animal products) in the diet with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated sources (usually found in plant-based foods) as often as possible. Eating one serving of nuts five or more days a week has been shown to protect against heart disease by:
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Limiting oxidative stress and inflammation (inflammation is a major cause of many chronic diseases) 
 
Portion Control
Cashews pack a lot into a small space, so watching serving size is important. Plus, you will get the most health benefits if you eat cashews in moderation. 
 
1 serving of raw cashews = 18 whole cashews or 1 ounce 
 
One serving provides 160 kcals, 13g fat (10g of which are unsaturated), 1g fiber and 4g protein. Cashews are an excellent source of copper and magnesium, and a good source of iron, vitamin K, phosphorus, and zinc, all essential vitamins and minerals in our diet. The fat, fiber and protein all have a high satiety, which means you will feel more full and for longer after eating nuts rather than eating toast, for example. The diet of a healthy person should contain 20% to 35% of the total calories from fat. It is important to remember that even healthy foods can be harmful and lead to weight gain if eaten in excess. Moderation is really the key to long-term health. 
 
Cashew Creations
Cashews are delicious eaten by themselves, or mixed in with other foods. I like to carry a pre-portioned serving of cashews with me as an on-the-go snack. Here are some ideas: 
  • Create your own trail mix with Equal Exchange cashews, Equal Exchange almonds, and raisins.
  • Throw cashews into a stir fry for an added crunch.
  • Make your own cashew butter.
  • Top a salad with cashews.
 
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