For the first time, a team of researchers has analyzed the nutritional composition of raw cashew nuts from the largest growing regions around the world, providing a much better approximation of the real nutrient content of cashews.
Researchers studied the composition of raw cashew kernels from India, Ivory Coast, Vietnam, Brazil, Mozambique, and Kenya. The composition analyses were conducted within three months after harvest, and included dietary fiber, sugar, protein, lipid profile, salt, energy content, sterol content and profile, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Researchers concluded that cashews are a good source of nutrients as they are rich in healthy unsaturated fats, high in dietary fiber and have an excellent profile of plant-based proteins. They also contain a wide variety of important micro- and macronutrients including vitamins and amino acids. No significant differences were found among samples from different origins.
The results also showed that cashews are relatively high in fat, but most of that fat (80%) is unsaturated. It is important to look at not only the amount of fat, but also the type. Saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. On the contrary, unsaturated fats, such as mono- and polyunsaturated fat, can actually decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad" cholesterol) levels.