This delicately flavored nut is a favorite between meal snack that can be readily found in your local market year round.
It also makes wonderful nut-butter and a special addition to salads and stir-fry dishes.
These super nuts are actually the kidney-shaped seeds that adhere to the bottom of the nuts apple, the fruit of the tree bearing the name, which is native to the coastal areas of northeastern Brazil.
While the apples are not appreciated in the United States, they are regarded as delicacies in Brazil and the Caribbean.
These super nuts are always sold shelled because the interior of the shells contains a caustic resin or balm, which must be carefully removed before the nuts are fit for consumption.
This caustic resin is actually used in industry to make varnishes and insecticides.
Heart-Protective Monounsaturated Fats
Not only do these nuts 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.
Bone Up & Relax
Everyone knows that calcium is necessary for strong bones, but magnesium is also vital for healthy bones.
About two-thirds of the magnesium in the human body is found in our bones.
Some helps give bones their physical structure, while the rest is found on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to draw upon as needed.
Magnesium, by balancing calcium, helps regulate nerve and muscle tone.
In many nerve cells, magnesium serves as Nature's own calcium channel blocker, preventing calcium from rushing into the nerve cell and activating the nerve.
By blocking calcium's entry, magnesium keeps our nerves (and the blood vessels and muscles they ennervate) relaxed.
If our diet provides us with too little magnesium, however, calcium can gain free entry, and the nerve cell can become overactivated, sending too many messages and causing excessive contraction.
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.
Eating Nuts Lowers Risk of Weight Gain
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.
Don't let concerns about gaining weight prevent you from enjoying the delicious taste and many health benefits of nuts!
Spread some nut-butter on your morning toast or bagel.
Remember how many great childhood lunches involved a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
Upgrade that lunchbox favorite by spreading organic peanut butter and concord grape jelly on whole wheat bread.
Fill a celery stick with nut butter for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Sprinkle a handful of nuts over your morning cereal, lunchtime salad, dinner's steamed vegetables.
Or just enjoy a handful of lightly roasted nuts as a healthy snack.
A Bit of History
The cashew tree is native to coastal areas of Brazil.
In the 16th century, Portuguese explorers took these trees from this South American country and introduced them into other tropical regions such as India and some African countries, where they are now also cultivated.
The cashew tree has always been a prized resource owing to its precious wood, the balm and the apple, but the nut itself did not gain popularity until the beginning of the 20th century.
Today, the leading commercial producers are India, Brazil, Mozambique, Tanzania and Nigeria.
How to Select & Store
Cashews are generally available in pre-packaged containers as well as bulk bins.
Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness.
Whether purchasing these super nuts in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there's no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that they aren't shriveled.
If it's possible to smell them, do so in order to ensure that they are not rancid.
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 the refrigerator, where they'll keep for about six months, or in the freezer, where they'll keep for about one year.
Cashew butter should always be refrigerated once it's opened.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Combining with other nuts and dried fruits makes a healthy snack.
Right before taking off the heat, add these super nuts to healthy sautéed vegetables.
Sauté them with shrimp, basil and green beans for a delightful Thai inspired dish.
Cashews with a little bit of maple syrup make a great topping for hot cereals.
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.
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.
If you don't know what to have for dinner tonight ...
Chicken, Broccoli, and Cashew Stir-Fry
A stir-fry is fast, easy and delicious.
We've turned ours into a tasty, nutty entrée perfect for poultry lovers.
Makes: 4 Servings
• 3 c. sm. broccoli florets with short stems (about 1/2 lb. crowns)
• 2 lg. carrots, cut into thin diagonal slices (2 c.)
• 5 oz. soba noodles
• 1 Tbs. olive oil
• 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
• 3 lg. cloves garlic, minced
• 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz. each), sliced crosswise
• 1 Tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
• 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
• 3 med. scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/2 c.)
• 1/2 c. reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
• 1/2 c. raw, unsalted cashews (3 oz.), lightly toasted (MUFA)
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Add the broccoli, carrots and noodles.
Cover and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Drain, transfer to medium bowl, and cover loosely with wax paper.
2. Heat olive oil, ginger and garlic in wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Cook, stirring, until garlic starts to turn golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the chicken, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
Stir-fry 4 to 5 minutes, or until cooked through.
Add scallions and stir-fry 1 minute.
3. Stir in noodles, veggies, and broth and heat through.
Sprinkle each portion with 2 tablespoons of the cashews.
30 g. Protein,
42 g. Carbohydrates,
5 g. Fiber,
14.5 g. Fat,
2.5 g. Saturated Fat,
47 mg. Cholesterol,
366 mg. Sodium
Bonus: Chicken supplies B vitamins such as niacin and B6, which help keep metabolism, your engine, running smoothly, a must when you're trying to lose weight.Tweet
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