If all nut varieties were thrown together to form a sort of nutty, dysfunctional family, then the cashew nut would almost certainly be the favourite child. Crunchy, creamy, slightly sweet and amazingly moreish, cashews are often the first nuts we reach for when a mixed bowl is on the table.

Easily recognised by their unique boxing glove shape, cashews have become an asset to any well-stocked store cupboard, as well as a premium quality snack food for the discerning, health-conscious snacker.

It goes without saying that they are downright delicious. That’s not even up for debate.

Keep scrolling for some amazing cashew facts, their historical background, health benefits, their many uses, yummy recipe ideas and more. 

Interesting facts about cashews

There are many interesting details about the humble cashew nut that most people don’t know:
  • Cashews grow out of the end of the cashew apple, rather than from within the fruit like other nuts.
  • Raw cashews aren’t actually raw at all - they have been cooked to make them edible, and then marketed as ‘raw’ or unroasted.
  • Cashew nuts aren’t nuts - they’re seeds!
  • Before they are treated, cashews are slightly green.
  • Cashews contain almost as much protein as the equivalent amount of cooked meat.
  • The average cashew tree can grow to heights between 32 and 50 feet.
  • Cashews aren’t just good to eat. They have also been used in the production of brake liners and paints. The shells have even been used to manufacture waterproof materials and lubricants. 
  • In traditional Maya medicinal practices, the leaves and bark of the cashew tree were used to brew a special tea to treat diarrhea. 
  • Studies have shown that roasted cashews may have greater antioxidant capabilities than raw cashews.
  • Over 90% of the world’s cashew harvest is consumed within the United States.

A history of cashews

Cashew nuts have quite an interesting history. Cashew trees were first discovered in northeastern Brazil way back in the 1500’s. Between 1560 - 1565, Portuguese sailors discovered these unique trees and brought them over to India, after which they made their way to continents like Asia and Africa where they thrived in their warm climates.

Because the shells gave off a toxin that irritated the skin, shelled cashews were first thought to be inedible. In time it was found, thanks to the help of a native tribe, that it was simply the shell, not the seed, that gave off that irritant. They showed the Europeans how to roast the cashews, remove the shells, and eat the seeds.

Interestingly, the native tribe first learnt how to de-shell the cashew nuts by watching capuchin monkeys, who would break them open using rocks and sharp stones!

Sourcing, harvesting and processing of cashews

While cashew trees are native to northeastern Brazil, today they can be found in most warm, humid climates across a number of continents. These trees thrive in both wet and dry tropical climates in sandy soil.

During harvesting, the shelled cashew seed (or drupe) is separated from the cashew fruit by hand and placed in the sun to dry. 

These are roasted, steamed or boiled at high temperatures before they are shelled, as they are covered in a toxic substance similar to poison ivy that can irritate the skin. This process helps open the shell and makes the seed accessible. 

After that the shells are discarded, leaving the creamy white cashews ready for further processing. 

Health benefits of cashews

Like other nuts and seeds, cashews are nutritional powerhouses.

Cashews are nutrient-dense and rich in calories and plant compounds: you will find about 553 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of raw cashews.

They are also a rich source of protein, fats and carbohydrates. They are naturally gluten-free, low GI, low in sugar and cholesterol-free.
Cashews are particularly rich in copper, an essential mineral for energy production, a strong immune system, and the development of a healthy brain. They are also a rich source of magnesium and manganese, important for healthy bones.

Some other key minerals found in cashews include zinc, iron, potassium and calcium. Not to mention important vitamins like vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and folates.

Like peanuts, cashews are high in an omega-9 fatty acid called oleic acid and other unsaturated ‘heart-healthy’ fats (MUFA’s). The good fats in cashews have been linked to heart health benefits, including the lowering of LDL cholesterol and reduced risk for heart disease.

Cashews are also rich in antioxidants, plant-based compounds that help fight off harmful free radicals in the body. They also help reduce inflammation and boost the body's ability to fight off illness.

Uses and recipe ideas

With its rich, buttery taste and texture, cashews are extremely versatile and have lots of interesting and unique uses in cooking and baking. Here are just some of their most common uses: 
  • Cashew nut butter is a delicious alternative to other nut butters.
  • Cashew oil is really useful for cooking and makes a lovely light salad dressing too.
  • Cashews are particularly good in Asian cuisine, especially in chicken and vegetarian stir fries, curries, soups and stews.
  • Cashew milk is increasing in popularity as a milk alternative.
  • Cashew milk means… cashew milk based ice cream! It’s a thing.
  • Cashews can even be used to make cheese, ideal for vegan diets.
  • Chopped cashews make a yummy dessert topping as an alternative to peanuts.
  • Cashew butter is ideal as a dairy replacement in meals and desserts.
  • They also make an excellent vegan caesar salad dressing or mayonnaise substitute.


Easy ways to include cashews in your diet:

  • Spread cashew butter on toast, or into yoghurt or oats
  • Make yummy no-bake energy balls using cashew butter, oats and chopped dried fruit
  • Add chopped cashews to your favourite fruit and nut energy bars 
  • Add a dollop of cashew butter or a handful of raw or roasted cashews to your smoothies
  • Soak cashews in water and blend them with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to create a dairy-free cream cheese or dip for veggies
  • Use cashew butter / paste as a base for sauces and curries

Use crushed cashews as a base for vegan cheesecake

Storage and buying tips

Cashew nuts should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the fridge, where they will keep for up to 6 months. Alternatively, you can freeze your cashews in a sealed container and they will keep for up to one year!

When shopping for good quality, dry-roasted cashews, make sure that they:
  • are a bright creamy-white colour
  • look uniform in shape 
  • feel dense in your hand
  • are free of cracks, mould and spots
  • don’t have a rancid smell

Now that you have plenty more reasons to love cashews, check out our cashew range and stock up today! Plain, roasted, salted and flavoured, there’s a cashew variety just for you!

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