Creamy and mild, cashews are easy to love and hard to stop eating. While the list of cashew nuts’ health benefits is long, there is one main disadvantage: Cashews are high in fat and calories, and eating too many can lead to weight gain.
Cashew nuts may taste decadent, but they’re actually good for your health. Rich in important nutrients such as protein, fiber and iron, cashews are a snack you can eat every day without guilt. That said, eating large amounts of cashews can easily lead to weight gain, so stick with just one serving for your waistline’s sake.
Disadvantages of Cashew Nuts
When consumed in moderation, cashew nuts are a nutritious addition to your diet. Like all nuts, they are a good source of healthy fats, fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidant phytochemicals, according to a research review published in Nutrients in December 2017.
But like all nuts, cashews are high in fat, which makes them high in calories. Fat is a more concentrated source of calories than carbohydrates or protein, so you can only eat a small amount at one time; one serving of nuts is 1 ounce.
One ounce of cashews — about 18 medium nuts, according to Cleveland Clinic has 157 calories. That’s not a huge amount — about 8 percent of the total daily calories for a typical 2,000-calorie diet. However, it’s very easy to eat more than 18 cashews in one sitting without even realizing it.
This can quickly increase the calories in your snack and make up an even greater portion of your daily calories. For example, if you ate 3 ounces or 5 ounces of cashews at once, that would be 471 or 785 calories — 23.5 or 39 percent of a typical 2,000-calorie diet.
Unless you are carefully watching your intake of other foods, consuming all those cashews means you’re going to exceed your calorie needs for the day. Doing that leads to weight gain — the more calories you eat in excess of your body’s daily needs, the more weight you gain.
1) Oxalate Content
Cashews have consistently been determined to have high oxalate content. Oxalates are naturally occurring organic acids found in a wide variety of foods, and in the case of certain medical conditions, they must be greatly restricted in a meal plan to prevent over-accumulation inside the body.
2) A Heavy Calorie Load
Cashews are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. But even nutritious fats contain more than double the calories of carbohydrates or protein, so cashews pack a hefty caloric punch. Just 1 ounce of dry-roasted cashews contains 163 calories; eat 1 cup — easy to do when snacking straight from the bag and you’ll have consumed 786 calories, nearly 40 percent of what you need in a 2,000-calorie diet. When you eat more calories than your body needs for energy, it stores the excess as body fat, and you gain weight.
3) Excess Sodium
Although plain cashews contain very little sodium, salted versions may contain about 181 milligrams of sodium per ounce. Excess sodium may increase your blood pressure, possibly raising your risk of cardiovascular disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that healthy people get no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, while those at risk of heart disease should get no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day.
While cashews’ sodium content may seem relatively low compared to these numbers, sodium adds up quickly with multiple servings and if you’re like most Americans, you’re already getting too much sodium in your diet. Choose unsalted cashews to avoid this issue.
4) Raw Cashew Dangers
You’re unlikely to find raw or in-shell cashews at the store, but if you do, steer clear. Cashews are related to poison ivy and poison sumac, and oils in their shells cause an itchy, unpleasant reaction on your skin.
Roasting the de-shelled cashews at high temperatures destroys any lingering toxic oils, which is why you’re perfectly safe eating commercially prepared cashews.
5) Eating in Balance
Your body needs a broad range of nutrients to thrive, and eating too many cashews will leave little room for other important foods. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guidelines recommend eating just 5.5 ounces of high-protein foods including nuts, beans, tofu and fish each day, and you’ll be healthiest choosing a variety of items from this group. You also need plenty of fruits, vegetable and grains, so don’t let cashews or any other food dominate your diet.
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