While every dietitian or nutritionist will tell you that eating a wide variety of foods is key for getting all the nutrients your body needs, most people have a few favorite foods they’re sure to always have stocked in the kitchen. Foods that can be eaten as-is for a quick snack or to round out a meal are especially helpful. One popular go-to? Cashews.
Technically, cashews are a drupe and not a nut—which, right away, is a clue into how confusing they can be; many don’t even know if it’s healthy or not to eat them regularly. On the one hand, cashews are a good source of fiber, protein and monounsaturated fats. On the other hand, the fact that cashews are high in monounsaturated fats is a reason why many believe they should only be eaten rarely.
Here, registered dietitians set the record straight on whether or not it’s actually healthy to eat cashews regularly. In fact, they share five ways you can expect your body to be impacted if you eat them every day.
Is It Healthy To Eat Cashews Regularly?
Stacy Roberts-Davis, RDN, a registered dietitian and president of Flavorful Nutrition LLC, emphasizes right off the bat that cashews are, in fact, a healthy food—as long as they are eaten in moderation and not in excess. (She says this means capping it at 20 nuts.) This, she says, is because they contain nutrients that benefit the body including protein, fiber, magnesium, tryptophan and unsaturated fats.
Elysia Cartlidge, RDN, a registered dietitian food blogger for Haute & Healthy Living, agrees, saying, “While cashews are rich in fat, it’s the healthy unsaturated variety that cashews contain, particularly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These types of fats are often considered heart-healthy because they can have a positive impact on cholesterol levels and overall cardiovascular health.”
If you want to keep your cashew-snacking healthy, Cartlidge says to go for ones that aren’t coated in sugar or salt. “Certain roasted and salted cashews may include substantial amounts of added oils and sodium,” she explains. ”If your goal is to reduce your intake of sodium or added fats, it's advised that you opt for 'dry-roasted' or ‘raw’ unsalted cashews the majority of the time to reap the most health benefits.”
As long as you go for raw cashews and cap your intake at 20 nuts, both dietitians say they are healthy to eat regularly, even every day. If you do so, there are several ways your body will be impacted.
5 Ways Eating Cashews Every Day Will Impact Your Body
1. You’ll have more energy
Both dietitians say that the protein and healthy fats in cashews help provide the body with energy. That makes them a great go-to before or after a workout, or to power through an afternoon slump. Besides these nutrients, Cartlidge says that cashews also contain copper, an essential mineral for energy production. “Since cashews can help prevent large spikes and subsequent drops in blood sugar, this may equate to more energy throughout the day,” she adds.
2. You could lose weight
As long as you stick to the recommended portion for cashews, both dietitians say that cashews can contribute to healthy weight loss. This, they explain, is because the protein, fiber and healthy fats make them super satiating so you’ll be less likely to be hungry later. “Nuts are known for their high calorie and fat content, which often leads individuals to assume that they should limit their nut consumption if trying to lose weight. However, emerging research is [showing] a connection between diets rich in nuts with more substantial weight loss and lower overall body weights compared to diets that don’t contain nuts,” Cartlidge says.
Besides helping with satiety, Cartlidge points to a scientific study showing that the body may only absorb 84 percent of the calories in cashews. “This reduced absorption may be attributed to a portion of the fat content in cashews being retained within the nut's fibrous wall, rather than being absorbed during the digestive process,” she says.
3. You may notice more regularity in your bowel movements
Since cashews contain fiber, adding them to your diet helps support digestion. This could lead to more regular bowel movements. Especially if constipation is something you struggle with, it can be worth it to incorporate cashews into a meal or snack. Scientific studies also show that eating nuts, like cashews, supports gut health as a whole because it increases the amount of good bacteria in the gut.
4. You will lower your risk for cardiovascular disease
Both Roberts-Davis and Cartlidge reiterate that eating cashews is good for heart health because of their high unsaturated fat content. “Regular consumption as part of a balanced diet may help lower the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation,” Roberts-Davis says. Cartlidge adds to this, saying that the monounsaturated fats in cashews can help raise levels of HDL cholesterol (often referred to as "good" cholesterol), which is associated with a lower risk of heart disease while also lowering LDL cholesterol (referred to as “bad” cholesterol).
5. You’ll be supporting your brain
Eating cashew nuts every day is also good for your brain. “Cashews are rich in carotenoids and polyphenols, two types of powerful antioxidants. These compounds hold the potential to alleviate inflammation and provide defense against certain diseases,” Cartlidge says. In fact, scientific studies show that regularly consuming foods with polyphenols is linked to a reduced risk of dementia and improved cognitive performance. So cashews are definitely considered brain food!
As you can see, there are many ways you can benefit from eating cashews regularly. Find ways to incorporate them into your diet and your whole body will benefit.