Did you know the most coveted bites in the mixed nuts tin aren’t actually tree nuts at all? We’re talkin’ cashews — aka seeds 🙀 from the cashew tree.
Cashews are delicious raw, roasted, salted, honeyed, or even blended into nut butter or plant-based milk. But are they actually good for you? We’ll cashew outside and let you know.
So, are cashews healthy?
Nut-urally! In short:
- They’re low in sugar.
- They’re packed with fiber, healthy fats, and protein.
- They’re brimming with bone- and brain-boosting nutrients and compounds like copper, magnesium, and antioxidants.
- They might help you drop excess lbs., if that’s your goal.
- They’re great for heart health. 💕
- They’re good for folks who live with diabetes.
- They’re just plain delicious. 🤤
Scroll on for more details and research on these powerful protein packets.
Here’s why we’re going nutty for these nutritious little noms
1. They’re chock-full of nutrients
You’ll find all this in an ounce (28 grams) of cashew goodness:
|Protein||5 grams (g)|
|Magnesium||74 milligrams (mg)|
Seems a little high in fat? Sure, but it’s the good kind. Several studies have linked a decent intake of unsaturated fats to a lower risk of heart disease and other causes of early death.
Cashews also provide important micronutrients, including:
- Copper. This is great for your brain and immune system.
- Vitamin K. This takes care of all your blood coagulation needs.
- Magnesium. This can help support disease prevention.
- Calcium. This is important for strong bones and teeth.
2. Hello, plant-based goodness!
Cashews are full of plant compounds, including powerful antioxidants like polyphenols and carotenoids.
A 2011 study suggests the added heat during the roasting process boosts antioxidant potency. (Fire!)
Plant-based protein is also good news. A long-term study suggested that plant-based diets increase your chance of living longer.
Easy, sustainable plant-based living
It’s easy to add cashews to a healthy, plant-based diet.
Cashew milk and nut butter might help you bump up your cashew content in tasty ways. Cashews in your coffee? Cashews on toast? Welcome to the future, pal.
Or, you can just grab a fistful of cashews and nom the heck out of ’em.
3. Cashews support healthy weight loss
Nuts get a bad rap for their calorie and fat content. But research suggests that a handful of nuts a day helps *prevent* obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Here’s why: Though raw cashews clock in at 157 calories per ounce, human bodies only absorb 84 percent of those calories.
This probably happens because some of the fat stays trapped in the bits of nuts that your body *ahem* expels later. (#TheMoreYouKnow) Sadly, this only rings true for raw cashews. The body fully absorbs nut butters and even roasted nuts.
Keep in mind that the research was based on raw, whole cashews. Your bod fully digests cashew butter and maybe even roasted nuts.
Bonus: Cashews are super filling. Noshing on nuts instead of, say, cookies, will keep you full for longer. That’s a good move if your goal is weight loss.
4. They’re good for your heart
Nuts are seriously good for your ticker. In one 2017 study, researchers linked eating 2+ handfuls of nuts per week with a 15 to 23 percent lower risk of heart disease. 🤯
So, what about cashews specifically? In another study, folks who had a daily snack of cashews instead of potato chips lowered their overall cholesterol *and* their LDL cholesterol (the “bad kind”) in just 28 days.
Unfortunately, the research isn’t airtight. Some studies suggest that cashews lower heart-straining blood pressure, while other more recent research suggests that cashews don’t really nudge the blood pressure needle in either direction.
Whether or not cashews are extra healthy, they do offer similar heart perks compared to other nuts.
5. Cashews might help peeps with diabetes
Whether you like ‘em roasted, ground, or whole, eating cashews might help you manage or avoid type 2 diabetes for these reasons:
- Fiber content. Cashews are a good source of fiber, which may help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Low net carbs. If you’re on the keto bandwagon, carbs matter. Swapping out high carb snacks for nuts could help those with type 2 diabetes keep their blood sugar in check.
- Insulin reduction. In one study, a group of people with type 2 diabetes ate enough cashews to account for 10 percent of their daily calories. After 8 weeks, they had lower insulin levels compared to the “no cashew” group (suggesting that their blood sugar levels were more regular).
6. Cashew benefits during pregnancy
The nutrients and healthy fats in cashews are super nourishing for expecting mamas and developing fetuses.
In one animal study, researchers found that when mothers ate cashews, the little ones developed faster reflexes and stronger memory capacity.
7. They could help you poop
Nuts, especially almonds and cashews, pack a bunch of fiber. And fiber — or “roughage” to its friends — helps keep your bowels moving like clockwork.
It’s super easy to mix cashews into your snack rotation.
- Eat a handful of raw nuts as an afternoon pick-me-up.
- Roast cashews with a little salt or drizzle of honey.
- Mix cashews with other nuts or dried fruit for a heart-healthy trail mix.
- Sprinkle cashews on top of a salad, stir fry, or thick soup.
- Make cashew milk.
- Blend cashews with other savory ingredients to make a vegan dip.
- Pulse cashews into your a.m. java smoothie.
- Add cashew cream to avocado toast or no-bake snack bars.
In general, cashews are a safe, healthy snack. However, there are a few drawbacks, including potentially unhealthy preparation techniques, possible allergies, and high phytate and calorie content.
Picking the wrong kind
Not all cashews are equal when it comes to prep. Some cashews have too much salt, and others are prepped using too much oil.
|Cashew type||Con 👎|
|raw, unsalted||fewer heart-healthy antioxidants|
|salted||potentially high in sodium|
|honey roasted||potentially high in sugar|
|roasted||takes time to prepare|
Research indicates that roasting cashews boosts their antioxidant content (Ding! Health bonus). One of the healthiest ways to eat them is lightly baking them at home.
How to bake cashews at home
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (176°C).
- Spread a layer of raw cashews on a baking sheet.
- Put the baking sheet on the middle rack for even roasting.
- Bake for 8 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching.
Pro tip: No oven? No prob. Just toast your cashews lightly on a stovetop skillet for 3–5 minutes. Voila!
Watch out for phytates
Cashews have a compound called phytic acid. This slows your body’s absorption of vitamins and minerals. You can reduce the phytate content by soaking your cashews in cold water for a few hours before adding them to your snacks or recipes.
Cashews aren’t keto friendly
Cashews have a perfectly safe amount of carbs.
But if you’re on a low carb diet such as keto or Atkins, cashews might not be the snack for you.
If you’re allergic to tree nuts, you should avoid cashews. No health perk is worth the risk of a severe allergic reaction!
How many cashews should you eat in a day?
If you’re eating raw or dry-roasted cashews, you don’t need to worry about overloading on sugar or oil.
Most of the research above suggests that a handful (1–2 ounces) of cashews 2–3 times per week provides health perks without going overboard.
Ready to give cashew cooking a whirl? Start with these tasty concoctions.
Cashews are as healthy as they are delicious. They’re full of protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Like other nuts, cashews can be great for heart health, controlling blood sugar, and supporting healthy weight loss.
The healthiest way to eat cashews is raw, baked, or dry-roasted, but there are plenty of fun recipes for cashew cream, cashew butter, and cashew “cheese” too.