Cashew, A Latin American delicacy

Erika De Paz

Maybe few people know that cashew is a Latin American nut. This seed comes from the northernmost part of South America, specifically Venezuela and Brazil. It’s one of the best gifts this continent has given to the world.

The crops quickly extended to other continents when Portuguese colonizers took it to India. In fact, today this country is the most important cashew producer and exporter, although some argue that Brazil tops this list.

Even when most people know cashew as a nut, biologically it’s the seed of a small tropical tree also known as mereycaujil, marañón or anacardo. Its fruit isn’t the cashew nut, but the meaty and bright yellow or scarlet red part. Its taste is very astringent and acidic, so many people don’t really like it.

In fact, this part of the cashew tree isn’t nearly as popular as its seeds: the fruit deteriorates rapidly making it difficult to export. However, it is rich in vitamin C and it’s used in alternative medicine as a treatment for diabetes. Others swear by it to relieve sore throats, while others use it to prepare tasty treats like jams, jellies, preserves, and gelatins.

A powerful antioxidant

In this sense, what’s really valuable about this plant are its seeds, those curved nuts we irresponsibly eat handfuls at a time. Is there someone who can resist their tasty flavor? But cashew is much more than that nutty flavor that invites binging. Apart from being delicious, it’s absolutely beneficial for our health.

Cashew nuts are rich in vitamin C, an extremely powerful antioxidant that prevents premature aging and strengthens our immune system. It also contains B-complex vitamins that, among other things, improve our frame of mind and keep our nervous and cardiovascular systems in good condition.

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Chock-full of minerals

Despite its small size, cashew it powerful! It hides endless minerals like potassium, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc, which are all necessary for the proper functioning of our body. Magnesium, for example, is good to achieve a relaxed state, while calcium is good for our teeth and bones, and potassium is necessary for muscle health.

The copper we find in this nut is also very important. It helps in the production of melanin, collagen, and elastin, which are all essential if you want to have radiant skin and beautiful hair. Some studies even prove that this mineral also helps in patients with anemia.

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A shield for the heart

On the other hand, cashew is rich in monounsaturated fats. These fats, also known as “good fatty acids”, don’t obstruct arteries and help lower triglyceride levels in the blood. This also reduces the risk of suffering cardiac diseases.

It’s low in sugar, as well as high in protein and vegetable sterols, which help reduce cholesterol absorption. Plus, eating just a few cashew nuts gives us lots of energy and fills us up because their high fiber content makes us feel satiated. This reflects in our weight: when eaten in moderation, this snack is perfect for staying in shape.

As if this isn’t enough, different studies have shown that cashew can even kill some gram-positive bacteria associated with caries, tuberculosis, acne, pneumonia, and pharyngitis. That’s because some of the components found in this nut attack these bacteria.

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Cashew is very versatile

Even when it can be eaten alone as a snack, it can also be used as an ingredient in different recipes. It’s great when you want to add a crunchy touch to a salad, or to spread over toast when you make it into cashew butter. We just have to eat it like everything: in moderation. We know they can be a little addictive, but bear in mind that these nuts are highly caloric.

Without a doubt, Latin Americans can be proud of this delicacy that has traveled the world but will never cease to be Latino.

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Rainbow Chopped Cashew Salad by Silk