We (as a society) spend a ridiculous amount of time and money treating and managing disease and ill-health.
Our healthcare system is basically a disease management system. We focus so much on what can go wrong with our bodies.
I love how Dr Christine Northrup chooses instead to focus on what can go right with our bodies!
I feel incredibly drawn to learning about this stuff.
I hope something I share with you today will help you to take preventative measures so you don’t end up in the disease management system. And if you’re already there, help you to get out.
We can give our bodies what they need to cause all sorts of right things to happen. And that means we’re taking steps to thrive.
Cashews can be one of those stepping stones.
Check out some amazing info below (and keep scrolling for ways to use them!).
Sprouting like a tail from the bottom of an oddly-shaped fruit, the cashew, in its natural state, is very weird-looking.
Before we get stuck into how cashews feed us up with powerful things to help us thrive, here’s a word on ethical sourcing…
A Word about Working Conditions of Cashew Processors
One of our beautiful community members (and my friend) Tamara, raised her concerns about the horrendous working conditions of cashew processors in India (where most cashews come from).
Removing the double shell of the cashew that contains a potent poison similar to poison ivy, is something many factory workers are doing by hand, causing damaged hands, burning eyes and night time fevers. This is so incredibly sad, and something we have a responsibility not to be a part of.
Now for some truth bombs about the power of cashews for our health
We immediately contacted our supplier and requested documentation showing working conditions of those handling our cashews. Thankfully, they could easily provide it and our minds were put as ease. You can read more and watch the videos of both factories here.
Do yourself a favour and do a little deep dive with me on these little guys.
Cashews boast what I’ve come to call ‘The Big 4’:
- Antioxidants (the warriors that go in to fight free radicals in our bodies that cause ageing, disease, sickness & cancer)
- Vitamins (E, K & B6 specifically)
- Minerals (copper, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, iron, selenium)
- Fibre (see above)
All of The Big 4 are essential for a seemingly endless list of internal bodily tasks.
Not only that, but they’re also a fabulous source of good fats and protein.
Heard of telomeres before?
They’re the protective caps on our chromosomes that slow the ageing process (kinda like the plastic cap on the end of a shoelace that protects the whole shoelace from being worn down and frayed).
And the longer they are, the longer and healthier our lives will tend to be. As we age, our telomeres naturally shorten. And we want to actually protect our telomeres!
Well, nuts (and other whole foods) have been shown to increase their length, and hence decrease the ageing process!
In fact, a large Spanish study concluded that eating just 3 serves of nuts (1 serve = a tablespoon, which is about 9 cashews) increased telomeres, slowed the ageing of cells, and decreased mortality by 39%! Incredible.
[Ref: Dr William Li, The Food Revolution Summit 2020]
Dr. Fuhrman advocates eating healthy fats, like seeds and nuts, for health and longevity. One study found that one serving a day of nuts and seeds decreased all-cause mortality by about 30% and cardiovascular mortality by 40%.
“Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotic bacteria. They pass through the gastrointestinal tract undigested, which stimulates the growth and/or activity of certain ‘good’ bacteria in the large intestine.
Prebiotics are naturally present in cashews.
While some people choose to take a prebiotic supplement if they do not consume enough prebiotic-containing foods, there is no substitute for a ‘real food’ way of eating when it comes to our health and vitality.”
~ Dr Libby Weaver
Cashews help fight inflammation and support immunity because of these rockstar compounds:
Zinc, Antioxidants, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, Protein (protein comes in close second with a few other nuts, to almonds).
You might already know how much I love using zinc-rich foods to maintain a healthy immune system.
Dr Libby Weaver has likened our immune system to a castle, and zinc – to the mote around the castle that protects it from invaders.
Zinc is a superstar mineral that enables our immune cells to develop and function properly, and helps protect against collateral damage when we’re fighting an infection. It’s also been shown to decrease the length and severity of the common cold.
Our body can’t make zinc, so all of our intake needs to come from what we put in our mouth!
Nuts and seeds are well known for being great sources of zinc, and cashews are the highest in zinc of them all!
Vitamin B6 ups our antibodies to fight infections, and encourages our bodies to make glutathione (my fave antioxidant for the role it plays in reducing oxidative stress, which we know is largely responsible for much of the health issues we have collectively in society). When we don’t have enough B6 is our system, it can disrupt our immune system.
Cashews are also packed with Vitamin E and antioxidants which help to regulate and maintain a healthy immune system.
Tip: Activate (soak and dry) your cashews before eating to increase the zinc bioavailability. (No, I don’t do this every time, even though I want to!)
Research shows that eating more nuts like cashews, can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Scientists presume it’s likely because they reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The good fats, potassium, magnesium, vitamins E and B6, and folate in cashews all may contribute to this positive effect.
We’ve all heard that carrots are good for your eyes, but it might come as a surprise that cashews are, too.
Antioxidants are so fun to learn about. There’s 2 kinds of them in cashews (lutein and zeaxanthin) that when eaten daily, may lower your risk of retinal damage, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts.
Anacardic acid found in cashews has been shown to stop the spread of certain cancer cells and enhance the effects of anticancer medications in test-tube studies. More research in this area is needed.
- Red blood cells
The copper and iron in cashews work together to help the body form and use red blood cells. These red blood cells are really important because they keep blood vessels, nerves, bones, and the immune system healthy and functioning properly.
- Blood clotting
Cashews also help our blood to clot when needed, thanks to them being rich in vitamin K!
Note: If you’re on blood-thinning medications, consult with your doctor before increasing your intake of vitamin-K-rich foods.
- Preventing Anemia
Cashews are high in iron and may prevent iron-deficiency anemia.
To increase your absorption of iron from plant-foods, consume it with a source of vitamin C.
- Blood Sugar Control
Certain compounds in cashews may help with blood sugar control in people with diabetes, but more research is needed.
Good fats can help you maintain a healthy weight! Crazy hey. They help you feel full and satisfied.
Did you know that when you have adequate magnesium in your diet, not only do you benefit from the more well-known effects (like better sleep, muscle health & energy production), but you enjoy the lesser-known benefit of lipolysis. It’s what your body does to release fat from it’s stores, and flush out those gunky toxins! (Dr Daniel Ahmen).
Cashews are a great source of magnesium, but I bet you never thought of them as fat-fighting food!
Dr Neil Barnard (well known for his work in food and brain science) says his no. 1 tip to significantly reduce your risk of Alzheimers is to increase your intake of a particular vitamin – Vitamin E.
He often references a study where those who consumed 8mg of vitamin E a day enjoyed 50% less cases of Alzheimers than those who neglected their vitamin E intake. Nuts and seeds (including cashews) are a great source of Vitamin E, with sunflower seeds being the leader.
[Ref: Dr Neil Barnard, Food Revolution Summit 2020]
Cashews are loaded with copper! Which believe it or not, regulates the production of collagen and elastin – two proteins that give skin its youthful elasticity and strength.
They’re also a good source of Vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant that helps to keep skin youthful, and may be effective at reducing UV damage in skin. Interestingly, natural vitamin E is more potent than its synthetic version.
Protect and nourish your skin from the inside out with real food.
Sometimes the best way to eat cashews is pretty simply…
- By themselves with a snack
- Together with other nuts, seeds and dried fruits in a trail mix
- Throw them in stir fries or salads
- Throw some soaked (and frozen if you want – for convenience) cashews in your smoothie! I always keep a freezer bag of soaked cashews in the freezer.
Did you know that cashews are the key food to use when going dairy-free? Cream, milk, cheese – can all be made with cashews!
Here’s some deeeelish recipes.