13

votes

What's up with cashews?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 25, 2012 at 12:18 AM

I don't hear much about cashews on the various paleo blogs I've looked at, and I'm wondering why. They're mighty tasty, and seem to stack up well against other nuts. For instance, compare 1 oz of cashews:

Total Fat: 13.0g
Saturated Fat: 2.6g
Monounsaturated Fat: 7.6g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.2g
Total Omega-3 fatty acids: 45.1mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids: 2145mg

(via http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3093/2)

...to 1 oz of almonds:

Total Fat: 14.8g
Saturated Fat: 1.1g
Monounsaturated Fat: 9.4g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.5g
Total Omega-6 fatty acids: 3542mg

(via http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3087/2)

The cashews have more saturated fat, less mono- and poly-unsaturated fat, lower omega 6 and a non-negligible amount of omega 3.

Am I missing something? If almonds are regularly mentioned as a decent choice for a snack, why aren't cashews talked up a little more?

Acb677529a6974737bf1905ccfc7f748

(120)

on July 17, 2013
at 01:03 PM

If you're worried about mineral absorption, eat them by themselves. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/nuts-and-phytic-acid/#axzz2ZJ7LiW1F

Cacf3bd2d5606b83dd32057537577b68

(120)

on July 03, 2012
at 04:45 PM

A friend of mine tried to open a raw one, using his hands then tried with his mouth. the area around his mouth swelled up and was red and itchy for days.

61c1efcc482019e016c45270b18c7453

(645)

on July 03, 2012
at 03:49 PM

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only person with such a cashew problem. I don't get what it is with Cashews specifically, but they're the only nut that I can't stop eating once I start. They're just so damn delicious.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on April 25, 2012
at 08:13 PM

Thanks for clarifying Jack, the way I worded that was completely misleading. As to Anthony's questions about whether the level of phytic acid is comparatively that much worse than almonds, I can't really tell--its' about a 30% difference in phytic acid levels between the two, but I'm not sure how that translates into affecting individual health. Also not sure if phytic acid intake only affects nutrient absorption from concurrently consumed food, or if presence in your system can affect nutrient absorption long after the nuts are consumed. Good questions.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 25, 2012
at 02:04 PM

macadamias pretty much don't have o3. they just don't have any o6 either so people talk about how the "ratio" is better. reminds me of a friend of mine that was all excited about the o3 in coconut oil, until I told him that there is basically none in there. it's just that on the tub from Nutiva, it touts the o3/o6 ratio as being favorable, which is silly.

85178e006119b00322a2401c494dd3a4

(644)

on April 25, 2012
at 12:12 PM

Also, I wonder - if the main concern with phytic acid is that it prevents absorption of other minerals, could you minimize that by eating cashews or other nuts as a standalone snack, so they don't interfere with nutrients from your other food?

85178e006119b00322a2401c494dd3a4

(644)

on April 25, 2012
at 12:10 PM

Seems like that could be the reason. Although, are cashews really *that much* higher than almonds? I guess it depends on how much and how often you're eating nuts. Chestnuts sounded like a good choice based on that article - I'm going to have to try to get some of them I think.

Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on April 25, 2012
at 09:32 AM

They'd have an oily sheen to them, Danielle. You know when you're dealing with a raw cashew.

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on April 25, 2012
at 04:39 AM

No technically about it; they're legumes.

85178e006119b00322a2401c494dd3a4

(644)

on April 25, 2012
at 03:00 AM

Yes, almonds (the part you eat, anyway) are also seeds. As far as I can tell, the edible inside part of any nut is technically a seed. So that wouldn't seem to be the reason for any hesitation about cashews.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on April 25, 2012
at 02:09 AM

How do you know if there are added oils? I usually get mine in bulk from Sprouts.

85178e006119b00322a2401c494dd3a4

(644)

on April 25, 2012
at 01:53 AM

Matt: Well, "non-negligible" compared to almonds, which were negligible enough that they didn't even list a number for them.

2c657a0aca33e505e735477ddd68f4f2

on April 25, 2012
at 01:52 AM

I guess it depends on what we're trying to define, and whether or not the title of Nut or Seed alone makes something worthy of eating. Apparently cashews are the seed of one sort of plant, but almonds and and pecans are the seed of another sort of plant, and none of them are technically nuts, at all.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 25, 2012
at 01:32 AM

All nuts are seeds, but only some seeds are nuts. Or am I confused? I've tried reading the Wikipedia explanation, but I can't get it straight. And then there's seeds that are grains... Semantics! Ahh!

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 25, 2012
at 01:29 AM

45 mg of omega-3s is pretty negligible in my book.

9f54852ea376e8e416356f547611e052

(2957)

on April 25, 2012
at 12:51 AM

I eat cashews, walnuts, macadamias and pecans 1-3 times a week, 10-30g on a sitting. They're delicious, and add variety to my diet.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on April 25, 2012
at 12:43 AM

Yes, cashews are my favorite as well. I'd like to hear a good, solid argument against them if there is one. Only problem for me is self-control... I have been known to eat 1/2 a pound in one sitting and that's not good!!!

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 25, 2012
at 12:31 AM

Of all the nuts those cashews are my favorite, but I generally only consume them when in a pinch for calories or traveling. Don't nuts contain plant estrogens?

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 25, 2012
at 12:29 AM

I only generally eat nuts when traveling or in a pinch. Don't they contain a bunch of plant estrogens?

A31b063c5866c08aa9968a8f2f1e9949

(1721)

on April 25, 2012
at 12:29 AM

I could have sworn I had seen MDA attack this issue, but I can't find it -- only some brief references to cashews as snacks, and some discussion in comments here: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-snacks/#axzz1t0VZ08FC (Ctrl+F, cashew). Apparently they couldn't find a satasfactory answer either. I hope someone takes this question on.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 25, 2012
at 12:26 AM

yeah man they're so good. But don't nuts contain plant estrogens and should therefore only be consumed in strict moderation?

A7768b6c6be7f5d6acc76e5efa66464c

on April 25, 2012
at 12:22 AM

Thanks for doing the work to put up that comparison. I had no idea. I may rethink my general avoidance of nuts....until someone tells us that they are full of anti-nutrients and phytotoxins. You know someone will....

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21 Answers

best answer

4
E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

on April 25, 2012
at 03:26 AM

I think this pretty much explains it for me: http://paleodietlifestyle.com/are-nuts-and-seeds-healthy/. Cashews are one of the biggest offenders when it comes to phytic acid as compared to other nuts. [Edit: removed misleading comment about macadamias and omega-3--they are not a good source for omega-3s but they are very low in PUFA overall. Chestnuts are the lowest in total PUFA.]

85178e006119b00322a2401c494dd3a4

(644)

on April 25, 2012
at 12:10 PM

Seems like that could be the reason. Although, are cashews really *that much* higher than almonds? I guess it depends on how much and how often you're eating nuts. Chestnuts sounded like a good choice based on that article - I'm going to have to try to get some of them I think.

85178e006119b00322a2401c494dd3a4

(644)

on April 25, 2012
at 12:12 PM

Also, I wonder - if the main concern with phytic acid is that it prevents absorption of other minerals, could you minimize that by eating cashews or other nuts as a standalone snack, so they don't interfere with nutrients from your other food?

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on April 25, 2012
at 08:13 PM

Thanks for clarifying Jack, the way I worded that was completely misleading. As to Anthony's questions about whether the level of phytic acid is comparatively that much worse than almonds, I can't really tell--its' about a 30% difference in phytic acid levels between the two, but I'm not sure how that translates into affecting individual health. Also not sure if phytic acid intake only affects nutrient absorption from concurrently consumed food, or if presence in your system can affect nutrient absorption long after the nuts are consumed. Good questions.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on April 25, 2012
at 02:04 PM

macadamias pretty much don't have o3. they just don't have any o6 either so people talk about how the "ratio" is better. reminds me of a friend of mine that was all excited about the o3 in coconut oil, until I told him that there is basically none in there. it's just that on the tub from Nutiva, it touts the o3/o6 ratio as being favorable, which is silly.

Acb677529a6974737bf1905ccfc7f748

(120)

on July 17, 2013
at 01:03 PM

If you're worried about mineral absorption, eat them by themselves. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/nuts-and-phytic-acid/#axzz2ZJ7LiW1F

5
85f91220dc9fe7486eec8c4305139c7e

(383)

on April 27, 2012
at 05:53 PM

The problem with cashews is that I used to eat them half a can at a time. My solution to that was to not buy them anymore.

61c1efcc482019e016c45270b18c7453

(645)

on July 03, 2012
at 03:49 PM

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only person with such a cashew problem. I don't get what it is with Cashews specifically, but they're the only nut that I can't stop eating once I start. They're just so damn delicious.

4
9beda76f4e91faedc8fa70ecdc01251e

(298)

on July 03, 2012
at 03:32 PM

I'm addicted to cashews. It's a real problem. I need a support group.

4
Bdac420645091098a0b3b5b47436969c

(273)

on April 25, 2012
at 03:57 AM

Here's a fun botany factoid for you: cashews are in the same plant family as poison oak (the sumac family) -- that's why you never see them in shells, handling them would be a bad thing for anyone sensitive to sumacs. You may also have heard of "mango mouth," a rash that results from contact with mango skin -- another member of the sumac family.

I've not heard of the sumac connection causing anyone problems from consuming cashews or mangos, but I get poison oak very easily and have been the victim of mango mouth myself, so I stay away from cashews for the most part on general principals.

Cacf3bd2d5606b83dd32057537577b68

(120)

on July 03, 2012
at 04:45 PM

A friend of mine tried to open a raw one, using his hands then tried with his mouth. the area around his mouth swelled up and was red and itchy for days.

3
Ec62d30702557a137f361aaf570765f2

on July 03, 2012
at 11:43 AM

Did you all know that Cashew seeds can be ground into powder for use as snakebite antivenom? I bet you didnt. Check out this cashews infographic I created for the superiornutstore.com. I think you all may like it. what's-up-with-cashews?

3
61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on April 25, 2012
at 12:50 AM

Robb Wolf lists them on his shopping lists. The outside of the cashew seed is inedible and contains toxins, but the seed is perfectly edible and oh so yummy!

2
C6e32ff9978fe287aa8c1c6be52d9524

(1548)

on July 03, 2012
at 04:12 PM

My favorite nut. Cashews are better than big macs, gas station slushies, deep fried food, candy, cakes, pies, etc. I will continue to eat them without guilt.

2
590a2a51fa0c9efa13dcec6b64fb643c

(20)

on April 25, 2012
at 02:06 AM

All nuts are seeds, but not all seeds are nuts. That is because nuts are the seeds of some trees. So cashews are nuts, but peanuts are legumes (not from trees).

2
3f43f4e3fd0eb5258878595d843ca919

on April 25, 2012
at 01:24 AM

Perhaps because technically they are a seed, rather than a true nut. And yeah, Robb mentions them in a couple of recipes, but not all that much.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on April 25, 2012
at 01:32 AM

All nuts are seeds, but only some seeds are nuts. Or am I confused? I've tried reading the Wikipedia explanation, but I can't get it straight. And then there's seeds that are grains... Semantics! Ahh!

85178e006119b00322a2401c494dd3a4

(644)

on April 25, 2012
at 03:00 AM

Yes, almonds (the part you eat, anyway) are also seeds. As far as I can tell, the edible inside part of any nut is technically a seed. So that wouldn't seem to be the reason for any hesitation about cashews.

2c657a0aca33e505e735477ddd68f4f2

on April 25, 2012
at 01:52 AM

I guess it depends on what we're trying to define, and whether or not the title of Nut or Seed alone makes something worthy of eating. Apparently cashews are the seed of one sort of plant, but almonds and and pecans are the seed of another sort of plant, and none of them are technically nuts, at all.

1
C6e3f773489bacd0b82edec70681e7e8

on July 16, 2013
at 05:12 PM

cashew butter is yummy.

1
33386841021780d5af822b1d102027c1

on March 07, 2013
at 10:37 PM

According to Robb Wolf's app "Only Paleo" they are paleo

1
3b38bcc91dbfc6a114f4bdce544103d3

(409)

on April 25, 2012
at 12:05 PM

Thanks Zot for that bit of information. I am very senistive to Poision Ivy and oak. I knew there was a reason I didn't care for mango's, now I understand why. I love cashews but fortunately find them as an expensive treat only eaten once a year if that.

1
Af3e3615beba642bcafd0f21d64d74f7

on April 25, 2012
at 03:08 AM

Some people react to them badly. Also, in nature a human would not be able to eat them without getting poisonous oil on them. Can't really trust the manufacturing sector to properly blanck or steam the poisonous exterior to get the "nut" un-contaminated.

1
9ba98ff40c0c4045be98682fa3e4d819

on April 25, 2012
at 02:13 AM

Ooops... I forgot that. Peanuts are technically legumes rather than nuts ?

A4216f1b1e1f5ab3815bd91700905081

(1646)

on April 25, 2012
at 04:39 AM

No technically about it; they're legumes.

1
9ba98ff40c0c4045be98682fa3e4d819

on April 25, 2012
at 02:10 AM

Nuts should be raw or dry-roasted (and at best from organic sources). The way I figure it, the "toxic" or inflammatory part of the nut is mainly in the shell or the skin. Original paleo-humans would have consumed huge quantities of them when animal sources of protein were not available. Of course the key issue with all nuts and seeds is the degree of engineering, hybridization and petrochemical fertilizers or pesticides used to grow them now. When consuming them, just how much distortion results in the ratios of Omega-3s to Omega-6s or presence of inflammatory compounds or addictive qualities ? With respect to all the latter, I believe that peanuts have been ranked the worst. I eat nuts every day. Almost always raw nuts: between 6 and a dozen raw almonds (Ayurvedic dosage) and a palm full of raw walnut meats once or twice a day. When I can afford it I consume reasonable amounts of raw or dry-roasted cashews, pecans, Brazil nuts, macademias. There's probably not a nut or seed in existence that I won't try. Since I came of age in the "organic" 60s. Together with berries or apples or just about any kind of fruit, they are delicious and provide excellent fat and protein. Which allows for smaller necessary portions of animal sourced protein. However, I also observe that over time I have known some people with terrible, terrible allergic reactions to things like nuts or sesame - even potentially lethal. In one case someone got deathly ill practically went into a seizure when someone else opened a package of halvah (containing sesame and pistachio) in the same room. Some people just automatically get inflammatory reactions to nut meats and nut products. I would also be wary of over-consuming nut butters; even the pure ones with no added salt in them. They are delicious but very high in fat. Here again, PORTION CONTROL (self-discipline) is the key thing. With proper portion control, nuts and nut products can be an excellent source of good fats and protein for most people.

1
4929a87e3f7438f18a0afbdde291ed5e

on April 25, 2012
at 01:58 AM

Cashews are seeds http://vegetarian.lovetoknow.com/is-cashew-legume - That being said, they give me the same issues that the nightshade family does. Bad for me, okay for my husband in small quantities.

1
C4ed6ba382aed2eefc18e7877999a5de

(1579)

on April 25, 2012
at 01:35 AM

In my experience, it's a lot easier to find nuts like walnuts and almonds without nasty oils added than it is to find cashews. I know that's the main reason I don't eat them as much. If you can get them raw and without added oils though... they're delicious! And they seem to have a good nutritional profile as well.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on April 25, 2012
at 02:09 AM

How do you know if there are added oils? I usually get mine in bulk from Sprouts.

Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on April 25, 2012
at 09:32 AM

They'd have an oily sheen to them, Danielle. You know when you're dealing with a raw cashew.

1
78f61440b0be72843360eb19d6ca2f56

on April 25, 2012
at 01:29 AM

I like them too...just ate a handful before seeing this post. My faves are Trader Joe's organic dry roasted...no added oils and they are yummy.

0
Fff8d9a5477a4c8f0db571301b213455

on January 31, 2014
at 09:56 PM

Cashews are one of the starchier nuts. It's common to crave when you deprive the organism of some nutrient. So, the reasons are diverse.

The most common is not enough calories. Very easy to occur when someone is eating a whole foods diet, or simply stablishing some restriction. It's very dense and caloric.

Stress. The combination of starches, sugars and salt are very likely to de-stress someone very fast. Cashews have a great combination of them (considering it's salted).

Mineral deficiency. It's full of minerals that are hard to obtain in a whole foods diet. Especially if one is under stress: not absorbing enough and excreting fast.

Not likely on a Paleo oriented diet, but protein deficiency.

Also could indicate intestinal dysbiosis since pathogenic microbes thrive on starch (it contains a considerable amount of RS)/fiber.

0
3228f776e86815bf674a672fc312c4ff

on March 07, 2013
at 10:49 PM

The chili lime version at Trader Joes are awesome!

0
F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on April 25, 2012
at 01:45 AM

I LOVE cashews. So much so that I ate tons of them and I believe I developed an allergy to them. Be sure to moderate. There are a couple brands out there that are only cashews and salt, check amazon for best prices on them. Sometimes on sale in food lion.

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