cashew ( Anacardium occidentale ) is a botanical curiosity because it produces both a dried fruit and a fresh fruit.


The cashew ( Anacardium occidentale ) is a botanical curiosity because it produces both a dried fruit and a fresh fruit.

The hard-shelled, kidney-shaped dried fruit 3 to 5 cm long contains the seed, the edible cashew nut, white or ivory in color and weighing about 10 g.  

The peculiar thing is that the peduncle that joins this dried fruit to the tree branch develops to form a large fleshy pseudo-fruit, yellow, pink or red in color and up to 11 cm in length, which can also be consumed.

In fact, it is a highly esteemed fruit in Latin America, where it is known as cashew, cojote, acajú apple, merey or golden plum among other denominations.

The name of cashew was given to the dried fruit by the French monk and naturalist André Thevet, whose shape reminded him of that of an inverted heart (“ana” means “up” and “cardium”, “heart”).

Cashew properties

The recommended serving of cashews is about 30 grams , corresponding to about 18-20 seeds. This amount provides 172 calories, 14 g of fat, 4.6 g of protein, almost 10 g of carbohydrates and 1 g of fiber.


Many people avoid nuts because of their fat content, but they all have a place in a healthy diet if consumed in adequate amounts. The cashew stands out as one of the healthiest due to its nutritional profile.

The total amount of fat is less than in almonds or walnuts and the proportions of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are very close to the 1: 2: 1 ratio that nutritionists consider ideal.

This means that it has twice or more monounsaturated fatty acids, such as olive oil, the most beneficial for the cardiovascular system, than polyunsaturated and saturated.

The proportion of healthy fat is higher than in peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.


Copper and magnesium, two minerals that are scarce in the diet of many people, are found in abundance in anarcado.

Copper participates in the formation of red blood cells, in the maintenance of the structures of blood vessels, nerves, bones, hair and skin, in the production of energy from nutrients, and especially in the functioning of the immune system.

As for magnesium, an essential mineral for the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, a handful of cashews covers up to 26% of daily needs.

In addition to copper and magnesium, cashew contains significant proportions of iron (9% of daily needs in a 30g serving), zinc (20%), phosphorus (20%), and selenium (10%).

Iron is essential for the transport of oxygen to all cells, while zinc and selenium collaborate with defenses in the elimination of viruses, pathogenic bacteria, free radicals and precancerous cells.


Each 100 g provides 15 g of protein, so one serving provides around 10 percent of daily needs.

But the most interesting thing is that amino acids are in the ideal proportions for their assimilation, as in the case of proteins of animal origin or soy. Thus they favor the perfect regeneration of tissues and the development of physiological processes.

In addition, the proportion of tryptophan stands out, which is higher in cashews than in any other food: in 30 g there are 72 mg of tryptophan.

Cashew benefits

The extraordinary composition of the cashew is translated into a series of benefits for well-being and health.



The cashew fat profile is optimal for controlling cholesterol and triglycerides, which reduces the risk of heart disorders. The effect of its fiber and antioxidants reduce it even more.

Several studies indicate that consuming moderate servings – a handful – of nuts four times a week the danger drops by 37 percent.

As the quality of cashew fat is better than that of the average of dried fruits, it can be presumed that the percentage may be higher in your case.

Its content in phytosterols, tocopherols and squalene contributes to the definition of cashew as a beneficial food for the cardiovascular system , all of which are antioxidant plant compounds that reduce the risk of heart disease.

Phytosterols, which are part of the natural composition of the cashew, are the same ones that are artificially added to certain foods to be sold as heart-healthy.


Cashews are an abundant source of magnesium, a mineral that is part of the bones and, through a balance mechanism with calcium, contributes to relaxation and the good state of the nervous system and muscles. Magnesium is as necessary for bone strength as calcium.


Cashew is one of the main food sources of tryptophan. This amino acid is a precursor to the synthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is associated with the feeling of well-being.

Specifically, its balance in relation to other neurotransmitters is necessary to regulate appetite and body temperature, for intellectual functions, to control anxiety and for the rhythm of the internal clock that determines the cycles of night rest and wakefulness.

Tryptophan is considered a sleep and pleasure stimulant, so it is a good idea to go to bed well served.

To the effect of tryptophan are added those of vitamins B. Even a moderate ration of 30 g provides 5% of the daily needs for vitamin B2 and 6% of those for vitamins B1 and B6. This, in combination with tryptophan, has a positive effect on depressive moods.


In regions of Brazil and Central America, the cashew has a reputation as an aphrodisiac, something that is said of many foods, especially if they have striking forms, but which in their case could be justified by the abundance of zinc, a mineral necessary for the synthesis of male sex hormones.  

Cashew in the kitchen

After picking, cashews are steamed to neutralize the irritating compounds found in the shells. They can then be marketed as is, or lightly fried for a crispier, tastier and more palatable result.

They are also consumed caramelized or covered in chocolate.


Cashews are highly prized in the countries where they originate and are increasingly used in vegan, international and avant-garde cuisine.

Its delicate flavor, very particular, and its mellow texture makes them very different from other nuts, especially when cooked.

They have a great affinity with spices such as pepper or cardamom and with other ingredients such as coconut or ginger.

This makes them very attractive to eastern cooks, especially from India, who frequently use it in numerous recipes.

With cereals and vegetables

You can enrich dishes of basmati rice, couscous and especially bulgur, a broken and precooked wheat with a sweet flavor, which is greatly enhanced if a few roasted cashews are added.

Salteados with spinach and a little garlic, they are delicious and combine well with all kinds of vegetables, including artichokes. Chopped well can also give consistency and texture to millet or seitan croquettes.


Winter salads are ideal to include cashews, especially if they have apples, endives, carrots or pumpkin.


A product derived from this dried fruit is cashew butter. It resembles peanut but is somewhat sweeter and creamier. It is ideal for spreading on toast or as a base for preparing sauces.

It can also be used in sweet recipes and has the advantage that it is less caloric than milk butter.

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