cacao-now-cashews-title-1 Anacardium occidentale Cashews -

With their buttery-sweet taste and unique shape, cashews are special little nuts packed with vitamins and minerals. Cashew trees thrive in subtropical climates, with the cashew nuts growing inside the seeds that hang from the bottom of what’s called the ‘cashew apple,’ which is basically a swollen stem.

These nuts are a good food source of copper. Copper is a crucial component of various enzymes, and contributes to the body eliminating free radicals, utilizing iron, producing melanin to support skin and hair, creating antioxidant defenses, increasing energy, and developing connective tissues and bones.

The iron and copper in cashews help the body create and use red blood cells, keeping nerves, blood vessels, bones, and the immune system healthy and functioning effectively.


Magnesium  and copper work symbiotically to fortify bone mass. Since most of the body’s magnesium is stored in the bones, bones suffer if there is a magnesium deficiency. Copper bolsters flexibility in bones and joints by synthesizing elastin and collagen.

Cashews are also full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, the essential fatty acids that contribute to reduced levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol and increased levels of healthy HDL cholesterol. Consuming monounsaturated fats from cashews can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Skin and hair benefit from the nutrients found in cashews as well. Copper in cashews helps manufacture various enzymes, which form hemoglobin and collagen. As collagen is the main structural protein found in hair and skin, elasticity is greatly improved with its consumption.


History

Native to South America and specifically Brazil, the cashew tree is a rapidly-growing perennial evergreen. In ideal tropical conditions, it can grow between 40 and 50 feet tall.

The cashew tree is quite adaptable, and today India is one the largest producers of this nut — so much so that many believe cashews are native to India.


History

Native to South America and specifically Brazil, the cashew tree is a rapidly-growing perennial evergreen. In ideal tropical conditions, it can grow between 40 and 50 feet tall.

The cashew tree is quite adaptable, and today India is one the largest producers of this nut — so much so that many believe cashews are native to India.


While the seeds of most fruit grow inside the flesh, cashews hang from the bottom of what’s called the ‘cashew apple,’ which is basically a swollen stem.

A hard shell with two layers encases the kidney-shaped cashew seed, which must be harvested by hand. Between these 2 layers lurks the resin urushiol, a toxic substance that causes blistering rashes — the same type found in poison ivy and oak. The shelling process removes this substance, which can then be used in the making of products such as varnish, insecticide, paint, and other industrial products. Because of the potential toxicity, cashews are never sold in the shell.


Although fresh, ripe cashew apples are a delicious treat, only growers and those in close proximity to cashew orchards are able to enjoy this fruit, as it is extraordinarily perishable. The apples begin fermenting immediately after harvest, and rot within 24 hours. But these apples can sometimes be purchased canned, and in liqueurs, juices, and jams.

The cashew tree itself is often milled into lumber and used to build boats and shipping crates.


Our Two Cents 2¢

At Cacao Now, we use only organic ingredients, and strive to source them from trustworthy and ethical sources. It is especially important that cashews are fair-trade, as a ruthlessly inhuman aspect of deshelling cashews exists, most notably in Vietnam and India.

When it comes to foods like cashews — and also cacao — where production is commonly  inhumane and destructive, it is extra important to conduct research and determine whether practices are organic and fair trade.

Please always be sure to know where your Cashews come from!