Cashews are delicious, at least in my opinion. A variety of Asian and Indian dishes use cashews to add a pleasant, creamy taste. The question is, are they healthy?
Several studies have proven that cashews improve your cardiovascular health. In one study, the participants who ate cashews improved their HDL to LDL levels. Another study showed a reduction of triglycerides from eating cashews.
The nutrients in cashew nuts, copper and magnesium, seem to have a positive effect on bone health. Their fat content may even help protect the brain from aging. In addition to improving the physical attributes of the brain, cashew nuts may help enhance your mood and improve depression.
Not only do they have a great nutritional breakdown, but most cashews are harvested in their natural environments in the tropics. This means, the trees use rain versus underground aquifers, providing a more sustainable plant.
Another benefit to buying cashews is that you do not need to buy Organic. Although most farms use little to no pesticides, the FDA did not find any trace amounts of residue when testing these nuts. More importantly, they have two protective layers to shield them from pesticides.
Is there any reason not to eat cashews?
The process from farm to store is not a friendly road. The cashew industry is known for harming their workers. In fact, one report showed a Vietnamese processing facility using convicted drug addicts as forced-labor. Most facilities pay their workers only if they meet their quota, and not by the hour.
Harvesting these crops are very labor intensive and done by hand. The oils on the cashew nuts can cause blisters, rashes, and itching. Workers can wear gloves to protect against the oils, but this also slows down their production. The workers are also required to purchase their own gloves, which many can’t afford.
Fortunately, fair-trade companies exist in the industry. These are companies that protect their workers and give back to the communities. Given this option, you are free to enjoy the benefits of cashews without contributing to the mistreatment of workers.
Dr Spencer Charlet
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