Is it safe to eat cashews?

The cashew tree is a tree with a strong growth of its production thanks to its kernel: the cashew nut. These are considered as oil seeds and are very appreciated because they constitute a very good snack for health and they avoid the cravings. Indeed, these nuts are made up of complex carbohydrates that help to avoid glycemic peaks, while providing the necessary energy to the body to reduce hunger. Moreover, they have a very interesting blood lipid profile allowing them to provide very good quality fats to the body. However, it would seem that they are dangerous under certain conditions, and particularly at the time of their harvest. This article reviews all the current knowledge related to the potential dangers of cashew nuts.

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The main disadvantage: allergy

Allergy to nuts is one of the most well-known allergies, and cashews are one of them, especially since they contain a fairly high protein content (allergens are often proteins). A recent study from 2021 showed cashews to be a potent allergen, causing severe and persistent long-term allergic reactions compared to other food allergies. It appears that this allergy is emerging in children, so the study concludes that pediatricians should be aware of this possibility.

Indeed, the symptoms of an allergy can be dangerous (cutaneous, respiratory, gastrointestinal...). The main risk of allergy is anaphylaxis (generalized allergic reaction), the most severe manifestation of which is anaphylactic shock, and can be life-threatening. It is therefore important to discuss this allergy with a child's pediatrician or allergist to avoid any risk of allergic reaction to cashews.

No danger with commercial cashew nuts

There is no danger with the consumption of commercially available cashews, outside of a nut allergy. In fact, the cashews found in commerce have undergone cooking, which removes the dangerous chemicals present in raw cashews, and in particular urushiol. The latter is a very dangerous, even deadly, toxic substance when consumed in large quantities. In this context, people who produce their own cashews must imperatively cook them (steamed, roasted...) before consuming them.

Moreover, it seems that cashew nuts can cause dermatitis when they are harvested. Indeed, many reports showing the harvesting of these oilseeds testify that the black oil escaping from the shell during the breaking is very harmful for the hands. In particular, we see women with very irritated hands and almost deformed fingers because of this oil.

To conclude, the commercial cashews are not toxic because they are cooked. As a result, they do not have any toxic substances, and do not contain the black oil since they have already been shelled. Therefore, there is no harm in consuming commercial cashews during a snack if you are not prone to allergies to nuts.

Tips for use

Due to the energy density of cashews and their high monounsaturated fatty acid (omega-9) content, daily consumption recommendations are defined. In a classic cure or for pleasure, a serving of cashew nuts is estimated at 30 g per day, which represents about 15 cashew nuts per day.

We recommend:

  • not to consume them in case of allergy to nuts.
  • Do not eat them raw if you grow your own cashews. Steam or roast them to remove toxic substances.
  • to crush them when you give them to your children. Indeed, their characteristic shape can be complicated to swallow for the youngest.
  • to eat them whole, toasted or in pieces to get the most out of their benefits.
  • eat them at any time of the day to take advantage of their benefits: breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner.
  • to integrate them into the following preparations to facilitate their intake: muesli, pancakes, dishes, salads, alone or mixed with other dried fruits, desserts, yoghurt, dairy products, aperitifs.
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