Can you eat cashews raw?

In this brief guide, we will provide an answer to the question, “Can you eat raw cashews?” with an in-depth analysis of cashews, risks associated with eating raw cashews, nutritional value and health benefits of eating cashews. 

Can you eat cashews raw?

No, you can not eat raw cashews. Raw cashews are not considered safe for consumption because of the presence of urushiol toxin in the shells of raw cashews, which is harmful. This poisonous substance can get into the cashew as well. 

However, separating the shells from raw cashews and roasting them destroys urushiol. So always buy roasted cashews when you are at the store as they are safer to consume.

Cashews

Cashews are a type of tree nuts with a soft texture and sweet flavour. They are eaten all around the world and are sold either salted or unsalted and raw or roasted.

Cashews are also used to make cashew-based cheese, cashew milk, and cashew-based sour cream and cream sauces.

Risks associated with eating raw cashews

The shells of cashews naturally contain the following substances:

  • phenolic resin, an insecticide
  • anacardic acid, a serious skin irritant
  • urushiol, a toxin.

Urushiol is a toxin naturally found in all members of the Anacardiaceae family of trees, including cashews, poison ivy, poison oak, mango, sumac, pistachios, and Peruvian peppers. Urushiol is present in every part of the plant, including the stem, roots, leaves, and also in the oil between the cashew shell and nut inside.

Exposure to urushiol commonly causes allergic contact dermatitis, which is a delayed skin rash in humans that is somewhat similar to the one you might have after being exposed to poison ivy

The skin rash caused by exposure to urushiol appears as itchy and inflamed bumps or patches on the skin that may have secretions and may lead to an intense burning sensation or localized swelling.

The severity of the allergic reaction depends on the amount of exposure to urushiol and whether you have consumed it or had direct skin contact with it.

Are ready-to-eat cashews safe?

Roasting cashews with shells at high temperatures removes any urushiol that may have been absorbed through their shells and reached to the nuts, making them safe for consumption.

For this reason, cashews are not sold in stores with their intact shells, instead are sold roasted or heat-treated. Rest assured that the cashews you purchase from the store are safe for consumption, as they have been prepared commercially to exclude the naturally occurring urushiol toxin.

The nutritional profile of cashews

Cashews are known for their beneficial nutrients. One ounce serving of raw cashews which is about 18 whole cashews provides:

  • 157 calories
  • 1.68 g of sugar
  • 8.56 grams of carbohydrate
  • 5.17 g of protein
  • 0.9 g of fibre
  • 12.43 g of total fat
  • 83 mg of magnesium
  • 10 milligrams of calcium
  • 1.89 mg of iron
  • 187 mg of potassium
  • 168 mg of phosphorus
  • 1.64 mg of zinc
  • 3 mg of sodium
  • 7 micrograms of folate

In addition, cashews also contain Vitamin C and are high in mono and polyunsaturated fats and are rich in protein.

Health benefits of eating cashews

Cashews not only provides good amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin K, thiamin, iron, phosphorus, and zinc  but they also have many health benefits when consumed in moderate amounts:

Help to prevent diabetes: Cashews help to improve insulin levels. Their ability to increase the levels of good cholesterol, while reducing the levels of bad cholesterol which in turn, help to reduce the risk of heart disease in diabetic patients.

Maintain a healthy weight: Cashews are full of good fat, fibre and protein which makes you feel full for longer and help to satisfy your cravings. The key is to consume them in moderation as they are rich in calories.

Lower cholesterol levels: Cashews may help lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL) in some individuals.

Bone health: As cashews are rich in magnesium and manganese, they help to maintain bone health.  

Heart health: Cashews help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by lowering bad cholesterol levels. 

Brain health: Cashews help to maintain brain health and a strong immune system as they are rich in copper. 

How many cashews can you eat in a day?

It is easy to consume a good amount of cashews in one sitting as their flavour is very tempting. Try to consume no more than 28.35 grams of medium cashew a day to gain maximum health benefits. 

A single serving of cashews comprises roughly around 18 nuts. To keep your intake under control you can pack them in small, single-serving containers.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat raw cashews?” with an in-depth analysis of cashews, risks associated with eating raw cashews, nutritional value and health benefits of eating cashews. 

References

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/309369
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-cashews-poisonous
https://www.delightedcooking.com/are-raw-cashews-really-poisonous.htm
https://www.medicinenet.com/why_cashews_are_not_good_for_you/article.htm

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.