Cashews are nuts that come from the fruit of a tree native to India and Sri Lanka, called Anacardium occidentale. They have been cultivated in tropical regions for thousands of years.
Cashews are rich in antioxidants and contain many essential nutrients such as magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin B6, folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, biotin, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium. The oil extracted from cashew nuts is used in cooking and cosmetics.
It has a mild flavor and can be added to sauces, salad dressings, dips, soups, stews, casseroles, bread, cakes, cookies, and beverages. Cashews are also used in making cheese, ice cream, candy, and other desserts.
Cashews are good for our health and provide many benefits, and one such benefit is their ability to improve our heart health.
In this article, we will know how cashews improve our cardiovascular health in detail.
Are cashews good for your heart?
Cashews improve our cardiovascular health because they help lower bad cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and prevent plaque buildup in arteries.
They contain essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for keeping our heart healthy.
let’s know about them in detail
Cashews contain powerful antioxidants such as vitamin C and polyphenols etc that protect our cardiovascular system from free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause cell damage by oxidizing proteins, fats, carbohydrates, DNA, and RNA.
These free radicals lead to atherosclerosis (plaque formation) and hypertension (high blood pressure). Antioxidant-rich foods like cashews help us fight against these harmful effects.
Research shows that eating 1 cup of raw cashews daily could provide enough antioxidant power to prevent heart problems.
One study (1) published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that participants who ate 2 ounces of cashews every day had significantly less plaque buildup in their arteries after just 6 weeks.
Another study (2) published in the European Heart Journal reported that subjects who consumed 3 ounces of cashews each day experienced a 25% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels over 12 months.
2. Dietary Fibers
Cashews are high in dietary fiber which helps keep our digestive tract healthy. Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet because it keeps our bowels regular and prevents constipation.
Fiber also lowers cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of coronary artery disease (3). A recent study published in the journal Circulation found that people with higher intakes of soluble fiber were at lower risk of developing heart disease.
The same study also found that those who ate more than 30 grams of fiber per day had a 45 percent reduced chance of having a stroke or heart attack compared to those who ate less than 15 grams of fiber.
Dietary fibers in cashews reduce LDL cholesterol levels and minimize the risk of atherosclerosis, a leading cause of cardiovascular problems like heart attack and heart stroke.
Potassium is another nutrient that cashews provide. Potassium is an electrolyte mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining fluid balance within cells.
It also aids in muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmission. Low potassium levels may increase the risk of irregular heartbeat, chest pain, and fainting.
A study (4) published in the British Medical Journal found that adults who eat high amounts of potassium experience a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases.
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who consume fewer than 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily have a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular causes.
Cashews contain magnesium, an important nutrient that helps regulate your heartbeat (5). Magnesium deficiency can cause irregular heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath, muscle cramps, and even death.
Magnesium works by relaxing the muscles around the heart so it doesn’t contract too hard when you’re having a panic attack.
It also relaxes the nerves that control your heartbeat, making sure that your heart beats evenly throughout the day.
If you don’t get enough magnesium, your body will start using calcium instead. This can lead to a condition called hypocalcemia, where your blood becomes too low in calcium.
This causes your heart to beat faster and harder because it thinks there isn’t enough calcium in your bloodstream.
If you experience any symptoms such as palpitations (a fast heartbeat), dizziness, anxiety, or nausea, talk to your doctor about getting tested for magnesium deficiency.
5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that help maintain good blood pressure and prevent clot formation. They also play a major role in regulating inflammation.
In addition to being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, cashews are also a great source of vitamin E, copper, manganese, zinc, iron, and selenium.
One study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that rats fed diets containing cashew nuts experienced a significant reduction in their total cholesterol level.
Another study (6) found that women who consumed cashews on a regular basis had significantly lower triglyceride levels than those who didn’t.
Cashews also contain zinc, a trace element that plays a crucial role in many biological processes including cell division, growth, and development.
Low levels of zinc may lead to impaired immune function, poor wound healing, and increased susceptibility to infections.
A study (7) published in the National Library of Medicine found that men who consumed less than 10 mg of zinc daily had a 50 percent higher risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease than those who got at least 15 mg of this mineral each day.
Cashew nuts contain selenium, a mineral that’s vital for maintaining optimal health. Selenium plays a role in thyroid function, immune system response, cardiovascular health (8), and brain development.
People who eat cashews regularly tend to have healthier hearts. According to research published in the Journal of Nutrition, eating two servings of cashews each week reduces the risk of coronary artery disease by 30 percent.
8. Vitamin C
The antioxidant powerhouses in cashews include vitamin C, which helps protect against free radical damage. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks (9) and strokes.
A study published in the British Medical Journal found that people who ate three or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day had a 40 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular problems compared with those who only ate one serving per day.
Cashews are delicious and provide many benefits to keep our cardiovascular system healthy. However, they are high in unsaturated fats, and eating too many cashews may increase the risk of heart problems. To improve heart health, eat cashews moderately and avoid salted cashews as they are high in sodium and may increase the risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.