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Happy National Cashew Day

Happy National Cashew Day! I know I sure love cashew nuts! I eat them as a snack and cook with them in some of my recipes. How did this day become a National Holiday dedicated to cashews and how does this nut benefit our health?

"Cashew" came from a fruit called "acaju" or "caju" in Portuguese, which means 'nut that produces itself.' Cashews grow like tails out of the bottom of cashew apples. Their trees are huge which might cover more than 81,000 square feet. Outer cashew sheet contains anacardic acid which causes skin irritation upon contact. It was the local tribe who watched local capuchin monkeys consume the nut, that they followed suit.

Cashews are rich in many essential proteins, vitamins and minerals, in particular copper and magnesium, which our body needs when we need a quick and easy snack for a quick energy pick me up, however, it is high in calories and sodium, so you might not want to pop too many each day into your diet.

The benefits of cashews are that they have heart protective monounsaturated fats, which eases pressure on your blood vessels and heart activity and may even help control diabetes. Cashews also have a low glycemic index, which can help better control appetite and in turn control glucose level in type 2 diabetes. Cashews are also high in antioxidants which help to remove free radicals in our bodies and lessen our chance for multiple types of diseases to attack our physiological system.

Now we have to be careful in consuming too much cashews in one day as cashews are hight in sodium, which can cause fluid retention and increase blood pressure. Some people are indeed allergic to cashews if they are allergic to legumes in their diet. So if you feel abdominal pain, gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose, difficulty swallowing or shortness of breath, please check with your doctor immediately.

Main danger of cashews is that they are poisonous if consumed in their raw state as they have a high caustic acid that can burn skin when they are shelled. Always consume cashews that are steamed and that the urushiol compound poison in the shell are no longer active.

Now I know cashews are tasty and you can't seem to stop once you start on your first one, however, it's best to minimize the amount to less than 10 nuts per day to still reap the benefits this nut is able to provide us.