How Cashews Compare to Other Nuts
How Cashews Compare to Other Nuts
It is funny, but when you ask people for a quick list of the healthy foods to eat they don’t often list nuts and seeds among their top choices. This is very interesting because on an ounce-by-ounce basis, nuts and seeds really rank as some of the world’s best super foods.
Take cashews as a prime example. They “rank #1 among nut crops in the world with 4.1 billion pounds produced” each year. (Meyers) This is because they are a popular snack food, but they are also seen as a “natural vitamin pill” too. They have a high fat content, but the ratio of saturated to monounsaturated to polyunsaturated is viewed as an “ideal” for optimal health.
Though, not all nuts are as ideal as cashews, it is clear evidence that organic nuts should be seen as some of the healthiest foods we can eat.
What is Healthy Food?
Of course, with so much information about food and health in the world today, it can be unclear as to what qualifies as healthy foods. After all, if you are someone who only looks at food tables to see how many grams of fat something contains, you would avoid some of the world’s best foods – such as avocados, nuts, and salmon.
That means that we have to take a few steps back and look at the “big picture” if we are to see how nuts must be included in any plan for healthy eating. Again, we’ll use cashews as a good illustration of nuts as healthy foods. They deliver around 28% of your daily energy needs (calories) in a single serving, but before you worry that this is too many calories just consider that 23% of that serving is carbohydrates (with 9% of that being in the form of dietary fiber).
You also get loads of minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids that help to decrease bad cholesterol. Oh, and if you are concerned, cashews have no cholesterol at all per serving. That means they have optimal fat ratios, combat heart disease, and do not add any cholesterol to the body.
This is a totally different image than many have had in the past. And that means we want to also take a look at the other popular nuts so often recommended for those interested in healthy eating.
Walnuts, Almonds, and More…
If you take the word of Harvard University, all nuts are “good” for you, but if you are looking for specific nutrient counts you have to research a bit. Here is what we mean: They released a 2004 article citing cashews for their tremendous magnesium counts, but pointing to walnuts as a better source for alpha-linolenic acid. They then indicated that peanuts are loaded with folate while almonds are great for vitamin E.
In other words, all nuts are going to be really good for you, but if you have specific needs in your diet, it is best to eat a mixture of nuts on a regular basis and to always go for organics and minimally processed.
Why? It is only these nuts that have been grown and handled under optimal conditions in order to retain their nutrient counts, fatty acids, and other benefits.
Understanding the Differences
How can there be such differences between say, a can of organic nuts and a can of those right from a grocery store shelf?
The differences are actually profound. Take a package of cashews purchased from us here at Caju versus a can of cashews from a store shelf. Caju does not purchase nuts cheaply from growers all over the world and then blend them together to sell at premium prices. This sort of thing is what the large scale producers do, and it is why they have to roast and salt the nuts so heavily.
For instance, when you snack on a package of our high quality Caju cashews you notice that they are of uniform size, color, and quality. Each nut is packed with the unique and sweet flavor that cashews from Vietnam are known for producing.
If you take a handful of cashews from the grocery store brand you notice they are covered in an oily slick and that you distinguish the saltiness more than any flavor from the nut. This has to happen because they buy from producers all over the world. The nuts are not sorted by color and quality – they are blended together for weight and bulk.
The imbalance in taste and color are hidden when roasted in gas or coal ovens after being oiled and salted. This masks any “off” flavors but also increases calories and ruins that ideal fatty balance in the organic nuts.
The experts argue that “side by side” all nuts have benefits, but cashews are one of the few viewed as nature’s vitamin pill. The key is to buy nuts from quality producers like Caju because we handle them in ways that preserve their nutrients and their flavors.
Meyers, Ruth. What are the health benefits of Cashews? Organic Cashew Nuts. 2013.