Cashew: A Disease-Destroying, Bacteria-Blasting Super Nut

The bacteria responsible for acne, tooth decay, tuberculosis, pneumonia and leprosy have met their match with, of all things, the cashew nut. Containing anacardic chemicals that destroy gram-positive bacteria, this tasty seed of the cashew apple helps eradicate dangerous pathogens that cause a multitude of issues. Not only that, but cashews have also been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and certain types of cancer.

Native to Brazil and grown worldwide in countries such as India, Mozambique, Tanzania and Nigeria, cashews are an outstanding source of copper, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and zinc. However, sound harvesting and processing practices are crucial to avoid contamination with the caustic resin located within the cashew shell -- otherwise, the nut is unfit for consumption. This is the reason why cashew nuts are always sold pre-shelled.

Improve heart health, reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer

Rich in monounsaturated fats, cashews help decrease blood triglycerides, which in turn can lead to a heart-healthy future. Research published in Current Atherosclerosis Reports observed that clinical and epidemiological studies consistently found that the fats in tree nuts reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, thereby lowering the risk of coronary heart disease by an impressive 30-45 percent.

Moreover, tree nut consumption (cashews included) has been linked with a reduction in the incidence of diabetes mellitus, which is also a risk factor for developing pancreatic cancer. Following 75,680 women in the Nurses' Health Study, researchers discovered that those who consumed a one-ounce serving of nuts twice per week "experienced a significantly lower risk of pancreatic cancer when compared with those who largely abstained from nuts," according to the British Journal of Cancer. Participants with a previous history of cancer were excluded from the study.

Keep weight in check

Another study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and involving 51,188 women between the ages of 20 and 45, looked at the correlation between nut consumption and weight gain/loss. Over an eight-year period, the researchers evaluated daily intake of nuts and subsequent weight changes. Results of the study found that the women who consumed tree nuts twice per week had less weight gain than those who rarely ate nuts. The researchers concluded that incorporating nuts into the diet does not lead to weight gain but actually encourages moderate weight loss.

Annihilate gram positive bacteria

One of the more fascinating aspects of cashews is their ability to destroy gram-positive bacteria, including pathogens which cause acne, tooth decay, tuberculosis and leprosy, as well as pneumococcal infections like bronchitis, acute sinusitis, meningitis and pneumonia -- to name just a few. Apparently, the anacardic acid present within cashews is an extremely effective bactericide, even at at high dilutions -- one part anacardic acid diluted with up to 2,000,000 parts water will kill gram-positive bacteria within 15 minutes.

Beyond including a small amount of the nut in your weekly diet, cashew seed oil, leaves and bark also provide the bacteria-busting compound.

Photo credit: By Jennifer from Vancouver, Canada (Goji berries & cashews) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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