(Health Secrets) Can anything that tastes as good as cashew nuts really be good for you? The answer is yes! Scientists in Brazil have just found that anacardic acids, fatty acids found in cashews, can protect us from oxidative and inflammatory mechanisms in the lungs. But that’s not all. Eating cashews helps protect the heart, bones and blood vessels, and sooth stress. And cashews do all this while lowering your risk of weight gain.
Cashews are loaded with monounsaturated fats
Cashews are surprisingly low in overall fat content compared to other nuts and seeds. Most of their fat is monounsaturated, the same kind of fat found in olive oil. The Mediterranean diet features olive oil and has been shown over and over to be the diet most conducive to good health and longevity. Nuts and seeds are also prominent features of this diet.
Monounsaturated fat promotes cardiovascular health, even in persons with diabetes. Studies have found that diabetic patients can lower their triglyceride levels by consuming primarily monounsaturated fat.
Nuts are good for your heart
Research has found that nuts rank among the highest foods in the plant kingdom for their antioxidant content, making them central in any cardio-protective program.
The Iowa Women’s Health Study revealed that eating cashews and other nuts lowers the risk of death from cardiovascular and coronary heart disease. Death rates decreased by 11% for those eating nuts or peanut butter once per week, and 19% for those eating nuts or peanut butter 2 to 4 times per week.
In an investigation that reviewed data from four prominent studies, Adventist Health Study, Nurses’ Health Study, the Physicians Study, and also the Iowa Women’s Study, the evidence that eating nuts lowers risk of coronary heart disease was even more compelling. Across all the four studies, consuming nuts at least 4 times a week revealed a 37% reduction in risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who never or seldom ate nuts. And each additional serving of nuts eaten per week added another 8.3% to the total risk reduction.
Cashews provide plenty of the minerals most of us are low on
Copper is an critical to enzyme production, and is protective against the ravages of aging, but many of us do not get enough from our diets. Low levels of copper are associated with colon cancer. Nuts rank in the top ten foods that are good sources of copper. Just one handful of cashews will supply 38% of the daily value for copper.
Magnesium is another critical mineral that most of us are short on. Magnesium is vital for healthy bones, and about 70% of the magnesium we have is found in our bones. Magnesium balances calcium to keep nerves and blood vessels healthy. Without enough magnesium, calcium can block blood vessels.
High blood pressure, muscle spasms and cramps, irregular heart beats, migraines, mental tension and fatigue characterize low magnesium. Of all the nuts in the nut kingdom, cashews are among the richest in magnesium, topped only by pumpkin seeds. Just one handful of cashews will provide 25% of the daily value for magnesium.
Don’t shy away from nuts for fear of weight gain
Even though cashews don’t have as much fat in them as many other nuts and seeds do, many people shun them because they taste so good that they must be bad! They are operating under the belief that fat makes you fat. But research does not support this conclusion, so don’t miss out on the health benefits of cashews.
In the Nurses’ Health study, the frequent nut eaters were actually thinner on average than those who almost never consumed nuts, and adding daily supplements of nuts for six months resulted in no increase in body weight. Nuts are so nutrient packed that they satisfy hunger and provide a wealth of nutrients, creating a feeling of satiety and comfort, and sending the message to your body that there is no need to go into a storage mode. When you eat cashews and other nuts, you are eating in harmony with insulin and leptin, the hormones that determine whether you gain weight or not.
How to enjoy cashews
Straight out of the bag or jar is one good way to enjoy cashews. If you want to put some effort into it try:
*Putting cashew butter on your morning toast or bagel.
*Make cashew butter sandwiches for you and the kids.
*Stuff celery sticks with cashew butter
*Add cashews to fresh salads, vegetable dishes, casseroles, and stir fry.
*Grind up cashews and use as “meat” for chili, meat loaf, or spaghetti sauce.
*A handful of cashews makes a perfect snack for kids instead of traditional sweet or salty snacks.
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