Are Cashews Healthy to Eat?

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It might be hard to imagine that the cashew nut, with its rich, buttery taste, is actually good for you. Brimming with nutrients and packed with healthy fat that promotes heart health, cashews make a good snack choice for anyone trying to eat better.

A close-up of roasted cashews.
A close-up of roasted cashews. (Image: leungchopan/iStock/Getty Images)

Get Your Healthy Fats

The cashew nut may be a concentrated source of calories, but that's because most of the calories in the nut come from its healthy fat content -- primarily monounsaturated fats. Filling your diet with more unsaturated fats, like the monounsaturated fat, may reduce your risk of heart disease by helping to lower cholesterol levels, according to the American Heart Association. As long as the healthy fats are eaten in place of saturated and trans fats, you're getting cardiovascular benefits, the association explains.

Rich in Antioxidants

Cashews also contain a number of antioxidants, including vitamin E, manganese and selenium. Antioxidants are nutrients in food that help defend your body against free radicals, which are chemicals that alter your body's DNA and change cell structure. While the antioxidants in the cashew nut alone may not be able to prevent the onset of illnesses related to free radical damage, such as cancer and heart disease, the antioxidants in conjunction with the other health-promoting nutrients in the nut may offer some protection from those illnesses.

Get Your Magnesium

In a 1-ounce serving, cashew nuts provide 20 percent of the daily value of magnesium. It's one of the most abundant minerals found in the body and is necessary to help keep your bones healthy and strong. Magnesium also participates in over 300 enzymatic reactions and helps regulate and maintain blood sugar and blood pressure.

Keep It Small

While cashew nuts offer a number of health benefits, they are a concentrated source of calories. To keep calories under control and prevent weight gain, keep your portion small. A 1-ounce serving of cashew nuts, which is about 18 medium-sized nuts, contains 160 calories. Portion out your nuts before you start eating so you don't eat too many. And eat them in place of other high-calorie foods, such as cheese or high-fat meats like bacon, for overall calorie balance.

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