Cashews are high in calories. 100 gm of nuts provide 553 calories. They are packed with soluble dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and numerous health-promoting phytochemicals that help protect from diseases and cancers.
They are rich in "heart-friendly" monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic and palmitoleic acids that help to lower or bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids helps to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
Cashew nuts are very rich source of minerals. Minerals especially manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium are concentrated in the nuts. A handful of cashew nuts a day in the diet would provide enough of these minerals and prevent deficiency diseases. Selenium is an important micronutrient, which functions as co-factor for antioxidant enzymes such as Glutathione peroxidases, one of the most powerful antioxidant in the body.Copper is a cofactor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function as co-factors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc). Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, sperm generation, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis.
Cashews are also rich in many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that our body requires them from external sources to replenish and essential for metabolism of protein, fat, and carbohydrates at cellular levels.
In addition, the nuts are also containing small amount of Zea-xanthin, an important flavonoid antioxidant, which selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes. It is thought to provide antioxidant and protective UV ray filtering functions and helps prevent age related macular degeneration (ARMD) in the elderly.
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