Don’t you think nuts are your best friends for life? So yummy, crunchy and equally good for you inside and out. These are the perfect snack that you can eat without guilt. Coming with heaps of fibre, essential fats, and protein, they kill hunger and along the way also make your skin smooth and supple. All nuts have something special up their sleeves and can help you get glowing, smooth skin. Cashew nuts are cool, in that they not only make your skin smooth and glow but can also help you keep it free of wrinkles.
Did you know cashew nut is actually a misnomer? It’s not a not at a nut all. In fact, it’s the seed of the tropical evergreen cashew tree.
The cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale) is thought to be in tropical South America when Portuguese conquistadores discovered it in the 1500. There are also mentions in South East Asian and Indian history that have records of the tree and seeds. Nowadays, cashew is cultivated everywhere in the world.
The name cashew comes from the Portuguese name caju for the fruit of the cashew tree.
The cashew tree can grow up to 14m tall producing the cashew apple shaped like a small bell pepper. Interestingly, the cashew apple is a false fruit, also called accessory fruit. The true fruit grows in the form of a kidney at its bottom and is about 3 times smaller than the accessory fruit. This kidney shape appendix houses the seed which is what we call the cashew nut.
The cashew nut in its unprocessed, natural form is quite poisonous. When the shell is cracked a reddish-brown resin oozes out. This liquid is quite irritating, kind of like poison ivy, it can cause skin burns and sores. But the burning liquid can be neutralised by heat so that the edible parts can be extracted. This is why there are only shelled cashew nuts available.
It’s not only the cashew seeds that can be used or eaten, although they can’t be consumed until they’ve been roasted. The wood was used to as construction material to build boats.
Cashew nuts can also be made into an oil. The highest quality oil is obtained by cold pressing the cashews. The oil has a fragrant, nutty aroma and a golden to dark yellow colour. It’s considered one of the healthiest oil for cooking.
Although the bell pepper shaped accessory fruit has a sweet aroma, it has a limited shelf life. Hence, it’s quite improbable to find fresh cashew apples where the cashew tree is not growing. You’ll find it used in jams, jellies, chutneys, beverages, or fermented into vinegar.
The resin within the shells called urushiol is an important component in making insecticide as well as in traditional medicine.
Unfortunately, a lot goes to waste when cashew nuts are processed so that we can consume them. New research shows that instead of regarding the shells just as waste, they can be used to make new compounds that show good UVA and UVB absorbance. This can’t come at a better time because traditional SPF seems to be getting more and more bad press. A lot of the sunscreen is washed into the oceans very year, threatening marine life like coral reefs. It’s not an approved sunscreen active ingredient yet, but in time, you may very well have this SPF on the shelfs.
Like most nuts and seeds, cashews are high in calories and packed with a range of nutrients such as protein, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that are key for robust health. The small butter croissant shaped cashews are a new entrant in the dairy alternatives, after oats, almonds, and the like.
Like all nuts and seeds, cashews are a high-fat food, packed with unsaturated fatty acids like oleic and palmitoleic acids. Worry not, these are linked to boosting heart health.
Contributing to their nutritional value is also the presence of antioxidants such as carotenoids and lutein. These are helpful compounds that support your immune system and help guard against free radicals. A brief refresher for antioxidants, these compounds keep your body healthy by neutralising free radicals. These molecules are formed when you’re exposed to pollution or the sun and they can damage your body at the cell level.
Even better, cashews also contain important minerals like calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, manganese, selenium, and zinc. A handful of cashew in your daily diet may boost your health and prevent deficiency diseases. Selenium is an important trace mineral that is vital for your body because it supports many processes in your body.
Another important trace mineral is copper. It can be found throughout your body. Your body needs copper when it makes red blood cells. It helps to keep nerve cells and your immune system healthy. It’s also needed when your body makes collagen.
Also found throughout your body is zinc. Almost 100 enzymes need it to do their job. It also plays a role in body’s immune system, cell division, cell grow, and wound healing.
Cashews are an abundant source of many essential vitamins such as
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B9 (folate)
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Why do you want to use cashews in your skin care?
Eating cashews boosts your overall health but if that doesn’t convince you yet, they can clear your skin and make it smooth and wrinkle free.
As cashews are abundant in unsaturated acids, they help your skin retain moisture. They also replenish any missing lipids in your skin and so repair and strengthen your skin barrier.
Smooth out your skin
Remember how cashews are an excellent source of selenium? This mineral is seriously important for your skin care. It has several tasks and one of them is that it acts as an antioxidant together with vitamin E. And you already know that antioxidants are important to reduce if not protect against damage caused by free radicals.
Combined with zinc, and vitamin K, cashews play a major role in keeping your skin healthy, supporting wound healing and the growth of new cells. This is all good news for a youthful appearance and improved skin texture. It’s equally great for people prone to zits, as it can renew and replenish acne areas.
The high selenium and zinc content in cashews boost immune function and can help with inflamed skin and breakouts. Both minerals are effective in reducing swelling and redness. As selenium can boost your immune system, cashews help your skin heal by reducing inflammation.
How to use
You can find cashew nuts all year in your local grocers. They can be raw, roasted and salted, or candied. You’ll only find shelled cashews. These “raw” cashew kernels are already processed to neutralise the irritating liquid in the shells. They should have a creamy white colour and feel heavy in your hand. Look for ones that are free from cracks, mold, and spots. If you can, try and smell it. It should not smell rancid in any way. At home, store them in an airtight container and in the fridge so that they don’t go off. You can store fresh nuts for about 5-6 months like this.
Cashew nut oil is often used as an ingredient and processed into different kinds of cosmetics. But you can also find it just like candle nut or macadamia oil. You can use the oil to cook or make fragrant salad dressing. And of course, you can use it in your skin care, for example as a facial oil in one of the last steps of your routine or add a few drops to your favourite moisturiser.
Are cashews poisonous?
The cashew kernels themselves aren’t but the shell surrounding them is. They can be eaten “raw” or roasted. Mind though that the roasted (and salted) commercial cashews can contain high levels of added oils or salt.
If you know you have a tree nut allergy, you’ll want to avoid them.
Cashew nut, especially cashew nut oil does well in skin care thanks to its high levels of vitamin E and fatty acids. Vitamin E helps to keep your skin supple and plays a role in preventing skin ageing. The fatty acids help your skin retain moisture. The oil is easy to use and spreads evenly.