Native to equatorial South America, the cashew is not a nut but the seed of the cashew apple, an edible fruit too delicate to export out of South America. You may enjoy eating cashews because they taste so good, but they're also good for you and can make a healthy contribution to your diet.
Source of Protein
The USDA's MyPyramid guide to eating recommends that you vary your intake of protein-rich foods. Most Americans get most of their protein from meat and chicken, but nuts and seeds, like cashews, also contain protein and are a healthy alternative. A 1 oz. serving of cashews contains 5.1g of protein. Your daily protein needs vary depending your age, sex and activity levels. Healthy adult women need about 46g of protein a day, and healthy adult men need 56g of protein a day. If you eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from each food group, you should be able to adequately meet your protein needs, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
High in Heart-Healthy Fats
The American Heart Association recommends that your daily fat intake make up 25 to 35 percent of your calories and that most of those fat calories come from either monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Cashews are a high-fat food, with 12g of total fat per 1 oz. serving, but most of that fat comes from monounsaturated 6.7g and polyunsaturated fat 2.2g. Choosing more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help lower your blood cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.
High in Iron
Iron is an essential mineral needed for oxygen transportation throughout your body. Low iron levels can affect your work performance and leave you feeling tired. Healthy men and women over the age of 51 need 8mg of iron a day, and adult women between the ages of 19 and 50 need 18mg of iron a day. A 1 oz. serving of cashews contains 1.89mg of iron.
The type of iron in the cashew is known as nonheme iron. To enhance the absorption, include foods high in vitamin C when eating your cashews, such as orange juice, tomatoes, cantaloupe and peppers.
Source of Magnesium
Adequate intakes of magnesium are essential to good health. Magnesium supports bone healthy, helps to regulate blood pressure and keeps your heart beat steady. Cashews are considered a good source of magnesium. A 1 oz. serving contains 83mg. Adult men need 400 to 420mg of magnesium a day, and adult women need 310 to 320mg of magnesium a day.