Cashew nuts are also known as cashew nuts or simply cashews. They are a type of tree nut grown primarily in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and other countries.
Cashew nuts are rich in protein, fiber, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B6, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin E, calcium, selenium, and omega 3 fatty acids.
They have been used for centuries to treat coughs, colds, asthma, bronchitis, sinus problems, sore throats, and many more health conditions.
Although cashews provide many health benefits, in this article, we will keep our focus on the benefits of cashews for eyes.
Are Cashews Good For Eyes?
Cashews are great for keeping our eyes healthy because they contain essential nutrients for our maintaining our eye health. Some of these are as follows
1. Vitamin C
Cashews contain vitamin C which is essential for keeping our eyes healthy (1).
Vitamin C protects against cataracts as it is a powerful antioxidant, meaning it protects cells from damage caused by oxidation. Oxidation occurs when oxygen molecules react with certain chemicals inside cells. When this happens, cell walls become damaged, causing inflammation and swelling. Inflammation leads to cataracts, the clouding of the lens of the eye.
Vitamin C in cashews is also beneficial against Macular degeneration, a condition that causes vision loss due to damage to the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp central vision. As we age, the blood vessels supplying nutrients to the macula begin to break down, leading to a build-up of fluid and scar tissue. Over time, this can cause permanent blindness.
Vitamin C in cashews supports optimal eye health as it is needed for normal growth and development of the cornea, the clear front window of the eye. Corneal ulcers occur when the protective layer of the cornea becomes inflamed. These ulcers can lead to blurred vision and even blindness.
Vitamin C may also reduce the risk of glaucoma, a group of diseases characterized by optic nerve damage and progressive visual field loss. There are several forms of glaucoma, but all involve elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), which damages the optic nerve.
2. Vitamin E
The antioxidants found in cashews protect us from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells. Free radicals are created during metabolism and exposure to sunlight. The body has its own natural defenses against free radicals, including superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx). SOD converts superoxide anions into hydrogen peroxide, while GPx reduces lipid hydroperoxides to their corresponding alcohols. Vitamin E helps maintain the levels of both enzymes.
Vitamin E in cashews protects the eyes from oxidative stress (2). It is especially helpful for people who smoke or drink heavily. Smoking increases the number of free radicals produced by the body. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can deplete your body’s supply of vitamin E.
Vitamin E is also important for protecting the eyes from ultraviolet light. Exposure to UV rays can increase the production of free radicals, damaging the DNA in skin cells. This can lead to premature aging of the skin and wrinkles.
3. Vitamin K
Vitamin K is another nutrient found in cashews that is vital for eye health. Vitamin K plays an important role in bone formation and blood clotting. It also promotes proper calcium absorption and prevents osteoporosis.
Vitamin K is necessary for the synthesis of proteins called matrix Gla protein (MGP). MGP is present on the surface of bones and teeth where it helps prevent calcification (3). Calcification is the process by which minerals such as calcium and phosphate accumulate in soft tissues.
Calcium deposits in the eye can form cataracts. Cataracts are cloudy areas on the lens of the eye that interfere with vision. They are often associated with aging, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, and other conditions.
A diet rich in vitamin K will help keep your bones healthy and strong. A deficiency of vitamin K can lead to brittle bones and an increased risk of fractures.
Zinc is another essential mineral that is found in cashews. Zinc is required for many bodily functions, including immune system function, wound healing, and reproduction. It is also involved in maintaining healthy hair, nails, and skin.
Zinc is important for healthy eyes (4) because it is needed for the maintenance of healthy eyelids and tear ducts. Deficiencies of zinc have been linked to dry eyes, inflammation of the cornea, and keratitis sicca, a condition that causes pain and blurred vision.
Cashews contain about 20 percent more zinc than most nuts. Cashews are one of the best sources of this mineral.
5. Lutein And Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids that are found in abundance in cashews. Lutein and zeaxantin are powerful antioxidants that protect our bodies from harmful free radicals. These nutrients are particularly beneficial for eye health (5).
Both lutein and zeaxantine are fat-soluble pigments that absorb blue light. Blue light is known to cause photochemical reactions that produce reactive oxygen species, which can damage cell membranes and DNA.
The presence of these antioxidants in cashews may reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a disease that affects the central part of the retina. Macular degeneration is responsible for approximately 10% of all cases of blindness worldwide.
6. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Cashews are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are essential for human nutrition. They are used primarily for energy metabolism, but they also play an important role in brain development, cardiovascular health, and immune function.
Omega 3 fatty acids are especially important for eye health (6). The omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are both concentrated in the retinal tissue of the eye.
These fatty acids are believed to be protective against age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and other diseases of the eye.
Magnesium is another vital nutrient that is abundant in cashews. Magnesium plays a key role in over 300 biochemical processes in the body.
It is involved in bone formation, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, blood clotting, and heart rhythm regulation.
Magnesium is critical for the proper functioning of the muscles around the eye (7), helping them relax so you can see clearly.
In addition, magnesium helps maintain normal blood pressure and fluid balance in the body.
A lack of magnesium has been associated with dry eyes, night blindness, and cataracts.
Copper is another important element that is present in cashews. Copper is necessary for numerous metabolic processes throughout the body, including the production of red blood cells, neurotransmitters, hormones, enzymes, and proteins.
Deficiencies of copper can lead to poor growth, delayed sexual maturation, impaired cognitive ability, and reduced immunity.
Copper deficiency has been linked to several eye conditions (8) such as conjunctivitis, blepharitis, and keratoconjunctivitis.
Potassium is yet another important element that is abundant in cashew nuts. Potassium is necessary for many bodily functions, including maintaining water balance, regulating heartbeat, and controlling muscle contractions.
Potassium is required for the maintenance of normal vision. It is needed by the cornea and lens of the eye to maintain their transparency.
In conclusion, cashews have been shown to improve vision in older adults, but they also contain antioxidants that may protect against macular degeneration. Eat cashews in moderation and enjoy the benefits.