When it comes to snacks, a lot of people automatically reach for things like candy and confectionery. And while sweets ARE tasty, they’re not good for your health or your waistline.
High sugar foods are high in calories, cause a big spike in blood glucose, and result in elevated insulin levels. This creates a “perfect storm” for weight gain.
To make matters worse, sugary snacks are digested very quickly; soon after eating one, you feel hungry again. It’s no wonder that some people think that they are addicted to sugary sweets!
The good news is that there are lots of equally convenient snack foods that won’t cause weight gain and could even help you lose weight. Fruit, such as apples, is an excellent option, as is beef jerky, hard-boiled eggs, and raw vegetables.
But, what about nuts?
Nuts are high in calories and fat but also contain protein and fiber. This means they’re actually a very beneficial weight-loss food. Are cashews good for weight loss? You bet!
Interestingly, cashews aren’t nuts at all but are actually seeds. However, they’re so nutritionally similar that they might as well be nuts. Eat cashews raw, add them to your stir-fries or curries, or lightly roast them. However you eat them, cashews are a good weight-loss food.
Are Cashews Good for Weight Loss?
Cashews are seeds, and, like most seeds, they’re high in beneficial nutrients. A one-ounce (28 gram) serving of raw cashews provides:
- Calories: 157
- Protein: 5 grams
- Fat: 12 grams
- Carbs: 9 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
Cashews contain more than just energy; they’re high in vitamins and minerals too. The nutrients found in cashews include:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin K
Cashews are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients too.
Cashews and Weight Loss
Cashews and other nuts are high in calories and fats, which is why a lot of people avoid them during weight-loss diets.
However, studies suggest that people who eat nuts lose weight faster and easier than those on a nut-free diet. The weight-loss benefits of eating cashews include:
Cashews contain protein, fat, and fiber, which is the holy trinity of satiating nutrients. These substances are gastric inhibitors, which means they delay gastric emptying to keep you feeling fuller, longer.
A small portion of cashews will keep you feeling full between meals and help prevent the unplanned snacking and overeating that could derail your weight loss efforts.
High protein foods like cashews cause a small but significant increase in your metabolic rate, which is the number of calories you burn per day. Most snack foods do not contain much protein and are more likely to cause weight gain.
Systemic inflammation is often linked to weight gain and obesity. Cashews contain anti-inflammatory fats. By reducing inflammation, cashews can help flip your internal switch from weight gain to fat burning.
Hard to Digest
Despite being calorie-dense, studies suggest that as much as 25% of those calories are indigestible. Chewing does not break down cashews small enough for your digestive system to digest them fully.
Additional Benefits of Eating Cashews
Cashews are good for more than just weight loss; they’re good for your health too. Benefits of adding cashews to your diet include:
Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease
CHD is the leading cause of death in developed countries. It’s characterized by a narrowing of the arteries that supply the heart with oxygenated blood. The healthy fats in cashews appear to reduce the risk of occlusion, leading to a reduced risk of CHD.
Better Cholesterol Ratios
Eating cashews may help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
A low LDL to HDL ratio is linked to better cardiovascular health and a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.
Improved Digestive Health
Modern diets are often low in fiber. Fiber is indigestible plant material. Cashews are high in fiber which adds mass to the waste passing along your digestive tract, making it easier to eliminate.
Also, while fiber is ingestible, eating high fiber foods increases levels of good gut bacteria. These bacteria are vital for a healthy digestive system and also play a role in immunity.
More Stable Blood Glucose
The fiber, fat, and protein in cashews have been shown to stabilize blood glucose and prevent the peaks and troughs that can cause hunger, energy fluctuations, and mood swings. Stable blood glucose is also important for weight loss and may help lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Protection Against Free Radicals
Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons in their outer shell. Unbalanced and highly reactive, free radicals are linked to a wide range of illnesses and diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and macular degeneration.
Cashews contain antioxidants that offer protection against the ravages of free radicals. Lightly roasted cashews have a higher concentration of antioxidants than raw cashews.
Cashews are easy to add to your diet and are beneficial for most people. They’re tasty, portable, and you can eat them as snacks or add them to things like stir-fries. They can be consumed whole, or you can eat cashews in nut butter.
However, as versatile and healthy as cashews are, they aren’t for everyone. The potential downsides of eating cashews include:
Cashews contain phytates, which block the absorption of some vitamins and minerals. This issue is easily remedied by soaking them overnight and then rinsing your cashews to remove the phytates. Many people also prefer the taste and texture of soaked cashews.
Despite being a seed, cashews are classed as and are nutritionally similar to tree nuts, such as brazils, almonds, walnuts, and pecans.
People with tree nut allergies may also be allergic to cashews. Symptoms of cashew allergy include hives and rashes, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and stomach upsets.
It would be very easy to eat more cashews than you meant to, especially if you take them from a large bag or bowl. Avoid this problem by weighing and portioning out your cashews to keep track of how many you have eaten. 1-2 ounces is a sensible-sized serving.
High Carb Content
Compared to other seeds and nuts, cashews are quite high in carbs. Because of this, they may not be suitable for low-carb ketogenic dieters.
Cashews are a versatile weight-loss food. You can snack on an ounce of cashews to keep hunger at bay or add them to a vegetable recipe for extra protein, fiber, and healthy fats. You can even spread cashew nut butter on your breakfast toast or scoop it straight from the jar with a stick of celery.
The best cashews are those in their natural state, with nothing else added. Things like dry roasted, flavored, and salted cashews are not as healthy as plain, raw cashews.
That said, soaked and then lightly roasted cashews are probably the most beneficial way to eat this tasty weight-loss food. Lightly roasted cashews are higher in antioxidants than raw cashews.
Eating cashews won’t just help you lose weight; they’re good for your health too. The fiber, fats, vitamins, and minerals in cashews can help ward off a range of illnesses and diseases, including cancer, constipation, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Despite being a seed, cashews can cause allergies like nuts, so they’re not suitable for everyone. Also, because they’re high in calories, you’ll need to take care not to eat too many. Limit yourself to 1-2 ounces per serving.
Cashews aren’t a miracle weight-loss food, but they can certainly help. They’re portable, tasty, and good for you!