Monday, 6 December 2010

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Cashew Nuts/Cashewnødder/腰果[yāo guǒ]



Cashew nuts are very nutritious, and ironically helps prevent weight gain. To lower risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, enjoy a handful of cashews or other nuts, or a tablespoon of nut butter, at least 4 times a week. Buy only the natural unsalted and untoasted ones.

Serving tips:
1. Combining cashews with other nuts and dried fruits makes a healthy snack.

2. Make a healthy chocolate drink out of cashew nuts. See recipe here:
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3121492&l=ddf4239b77&id=705043347

3. Right before taking off the heat, add cashews to healthy sautéed vegetables, Chinese style

4. Healthy sauté cashews with shrimp, basil and green beans for a delightful Thai inspired dish.

5. Cashews with a little bit of maple syrup make a great topping for hot cereals.

5. Add cashew butter to breakfast soy or rice milk shakes to up their protein content (a quarter-cup of cashews provides over 5 grams of protein) and give them a creamy nutty taste.

6. In a saucepan over low-medium heat, mix cashew butter with some tamari, cayenne pepper, garlic, ginger and water to make a wonderful sauce for fish, vegetables, tofu or rice.

7. To roast cashews at home, do so gently in a 160-170°F (about 75°C) oven for 15-20 minutes to preserve the healthy oils.

Nutritional value:
Cashews are a very good source of monounsaturated fats and copper, and a good source of magnesium and phosphorus.

Storage
Due to their high content of oleic acid, cashews are more stable than most other nuts but should still be stored in a tightly sealed container in a cool place.

Warnings
Cashews are among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and human beings. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating cashews.

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Additional Information:
Not only do cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts, approximately 75% of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids, plus about 75% of this unsaturated fatty acid content is oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil.

Studies show that oleic acid promotes good cardiovascular health, even in individuals with diabetes. Studies of diabetic patients show that monounsaturated fat, when added to a low-fat diet, can help to reduce high triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a form in which fats are carried in the blood, and high triglyceride levels are associated with an increased risk for heart disease, so ensuring you have some monounsaturated fats in your diet by enjoying cashews is a good idea, especially for persons with diabetes.

When evidence from all four studies was combined, subjects consuming nuts at least 4 times a week showed a 37% reduced risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who never or seldom ate nuts.

Although nuts are known to provide a variety of cardio-protective benefits, many avoid them for fear of weight gain. A prospective study published in the journal Obesity shows such fears are groundless. In fact, people who eat nuts at least twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who almost never eat nuts.

Numerous health problems can develop when copper intake is inadequate, including iron deficiency anemia, ruptured blood vessels, osteoporosis, joint problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, brain disturbances, elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduced HDL (good) cholesterol levels, irregular heartbeat, and increased susceptibility to infections. Topping your morning cereal with a quarter-cup of cashews will supply you with 38.0% of the daily value for copper.

Insufficient magnesium can thus contribute to high blood pressure, muscle spasms (including spasms of the heart muscle or the spasms of the airways symptomatic of asthma), and migraine headaches, as well as muscle cramps, tension, soreness and fatigue. Given these effects, it is not surprising that studies have shown magnesium helps reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure, helps prevent heart attacks, promotes normal sleep patterns in women suffering from menopausal sleep disturbances, and reduces the severity of asthma. Just a quarter-cup of cashews provides 22.3% of the daily value for magnesium. Everyone knows that calcium is necessary for strong bones, but magnesium is also vital for healthy bones.

The cashew tree is native to coastal areas of Brazil. In the 16th century, Portuguese explorers took cashew trees from this South American country and introduced them into other tropical regions such as India and some African countries. Today, the leading commercial producers of cashews are India, Brazil, Mozambique, Tanzania and Nigeria.

References:
http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=98#descr

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