Cashews are a type of seed from a fruit called a drupe. These fruits grow on trees and are usually green when ripe. Cashews are found in two different varieties: sweet and bitter. Sweet cashews are eaten raw, while bitter ones are dried and ground into powder form. Both types can be stored at room temperature for up to one year.
Cashew nuts are the seeds of a tropical tree, Anacardium occidentale, that grows in South America, Africa, India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries.
They contain high amounts of protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, folate, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline.
Cashews are great for our health and provide many benefits including weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, increased energy levels, healthy skin, hair, nails, and teeth, and improve neurological health.
In this article we will focus on the benefits of cashews for improving our brain health.
Are Cashews Good For Brain
Cashews are good for our brain health because they help with memory, concentration, and cognitive function. They contain essential nutrients and compounds that benefit our brain and improve neurological health.
Some of them are listed below
1. Antioxidants And Brain Health
Antioxidants are naturally occurring compounds found in cashews that protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when reactive oxygen species (ROS), also known as free radicals, overwhelm the body’s natural antioxidant defenses.
ROS are produced during normal metabolism, but excessive amounts can cause cell damage and contribute to chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and macular degeneration.
In addition to being essential nutrients, antioxidants play a key role in maintaining brain function (1).
They support the production of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine; regulate gene expression; promote nerve growth, and protect neurons from injury.
Vitamin E in cashew is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to improve memory (2) and prevent cognitive impairment. Vitamin C helps maintain collagen levels in the brain and may slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Magnesium And Brain Health
Magnesium is an important mineral that plays a vital role in over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body. It supports the proper functioning of nerves, muscles, bones, blood vessels, and hormones. Magnesium deficiency is associated with depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches.
It is also necessary for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium ranges between 400 mg and 420 mg per day for adults.
If you don’t eat enough magnesium, it can lead to low mood, irritability, sleep problems, and difficulty concentrating.
A study published in the journal Neurology showed that people who ate more than 500 mg of magnesium each day had a lower risk of developing dementia (3).
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition reported that women who consumed less than 200 mg of magnesium per day were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who took in at least 350 mg of magnesium every day.
3. Vitamin B6 And Brain Health
Vitamin B6 in cashews is another nutrient that is very beneficial for brain health. It helps produce and use several neurotransmitters (4), including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Serotonin is involved in regulating mood, appetite, sleep, pain perception, sexual desire, and other functions. Dopamine is responsible for motivation, pleasure, and reward-seeking behavior. Norepinephrine regulates arousal and attention.
B vitamins help keep your nervous system healthy and working properly. They also help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which is linked to many neurological disorders.
A study published by the American Academy of Neurology found that older adults who take vitamin B6 have better mental abilities than those who do not.
Another study published in the British Medical Journal found that elderly people who consume high doses of vitamin B6 (more than 2 milligrams) have fewer symptoms of mild cognitive impairment. (5)
4. Folate And Brain Health
Folate in cashews is another essential nutrient that is crucial for brain development and maintenance. It helps make DNA and RNA, two molecules that are critical for cell division and repair.
Folate is also needed for the formation of red blood cells and for the metabolism of amino acids.
Inadequate folate levels have been linked to poor memory (6), impaired thinking skills, and even seizures.
5. Selenium And Brain Health
Selenium is another important trace mineral for brain health (7) as it plays a role in protecting against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals build up inside the body. Free radicals can cause damage to cells and tissues.
Oxidative stress has been implicated in several diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Selenium is also necessary for thyroid hormone production. Thyroid hormones regulate growth and development.
6. Zinc And Brain Health
Zinc is an essential element that is required for hundreds of different biochemical reactions in the body. These include immune system functions, wound healing, bone health, and reproduction.
It is also involved in maintaining healthy skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes.
Zinc is also vital for the proper functioning of the nervous system (8). In fact, zinc is the second-most abundant metal in the human brain after copper.
It is used to produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is a chemical messenger that regulates mood, sleep, appetite, and sexual behavior. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that controls movement, attention, and motivation.
Zinc is required for the synthesis of myelin, a fatty substance that insulates nerve fibers. Myelin is what allows nerves to transmit electrical impulses quickly and effectively.
Zinc is needed for the normal function of many enzymes, including those responsible for energy metabolism, DNA replication, cell division, and detoxification.
7. Omega Fatty Acids And Brain Health
The omega-3 fats in cashews play a key role in improving brain health. Omega 3s are polyunsaturated fats that are found in fish oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts, and other foods.
They are considered “essential” because the body cannot manufacture them on its own. Instead, it must obtain them from food sources.
Omega 3s are known to be anti-inflammatory and help prevent heart disease by reducing triglycerides and cholesterol. They may also reduce the risk of depression.
Cashews contain about 1 gram of omega 3 per ounce. This amount is more than double the recommended daily intake of 0.5 grams.
A recent study showed that people with low levels of omega 3s were at greater risk of developing dementia (9).
Other studies have shown that eating nuts or taking supplements containing omega 3s may slow cognitive decline.
In conclusion, cashews are good for brain health and reduce the risk of various neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. They also boost memory, improve concentration, and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. To boost brain health, add cashews to your diet but don’t overdo it.