Cashews are consumed as a snack on their own, are commonly used in nut mixes, and can also be processed into cashew butter, cashew milk, and other products. Cashews can be a healthy addition to your diet when consumed in moderation.
Cashew Nutrition Facts
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 ounce (28g) of raw, unsalted cashews.1
- Calories: 157
- Fat: 12g
- Sodium: 3.4mg
- Carbohydrates: 8.6g
- Fiber: 0.9g
- Sugars: 1.7g
- Protein: 5.2g
A single serving of cashew nuts is 1 ounce—or about 18 nuts.2 One serving contains 157 calories and just under 9 grams of carbohydrate. Most of the carbohydrate in cashews is starch. A small amount is fiber (just under 1 gram) and the rest (about 1.7 grams) is sugar.
The estimated glycemic load of cashews is 3 if you consume a 1-ounce serving. Glycemic load takes serving size into account when estimating a food's impact on blood sugar. Foods with a glycemic index of 10 or less are considered low glycemic.
Most of the calories in cashews come from fat. There are 12 grams of fat in a serving if you consume the full ounce. Most of the fat is monounsaturated fat (6.8g) or polyunsaturated fat (2.2g). Unsaturated fats are considered to be healthier forms of fat.3 There are also about 2.2 grams of less healthy saturated fat in a serving of cashews.
Cashew nuts provide just over 5 grams of protein per serving. As a basis for comparison, cashews provide less protein than peanuts, which provide over 7 grams per one-ounce serving.
Vitamins and Minerals
Cashew nuts provide vitamin K (about 12% of your daily needs).4 You'll also benefit from thiamin and vitamin B6 when you consume cashews.
Cashews are an excellent source of magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese and a good source of zinc and iron.
Consumption of nuts in general—and cashews, in particular—is associated with certain health benefits.
Aids Weight Control
Nuts can make a smart snack if you are trying to lose weight. The healthy fat, protein, and fiber in nuts may help you to feel full and satisfied after meals or at snacktime. But since nuts are high in calories, it's important to consume them in moderation.
One study investigating nut consumption found that regularly eating nuts (approximately one handful daily) over the long term can be incorporated as a component of a healthy diet for the prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes.5 But the study investigated nuts as a replacement for less healthy foods. It is unclear from this study whether nuts themselves provide any unique benefit.
May Help Decrease Cholesterol
Cashews may help lower LDL cholesterol in some adults, according to a study published in a 2017 issue of the journal Nutrients. Researchers found that when adults with mildly high cholesterol consumed 28 to 64 grams of cashews per day, they saw an average 24% decrease in LDL cholesterol when compared to a control diet.6
Study authors noted that the fatty acid profiles, vegetable proteins, fibers, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and phytosterols in cashews and other nuts are responsible for nut health benefits.
May Reduce Risk of Gallstones
There is some limited evidence that eating nuts can reduce the incidence of gallstones in both men and women.
Authors of one large research review on nut benefits wrote that "because of the richness of nuts in bioactive components, particularly unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, and minerals, a protective effect of nut intake on gallstone disease is biologically plausible." The authors went on to cite two large observational studies where increased nut consumption was associated with a decreased incidence of gallstones.7
Independent clinical trials investigating gallstone risk and nut consumption in humans have not been conducted.
May Aid Diabetes Management or Prevention
Several studies have investigated the relationship between nut consumption and diabetes.
One research found that nut consumption may decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Authors of a large research review summarized data from the widescale Nurses Health Study, the large Iowa Women’s Health Study, the Physicians’ Health Study, and other published reports.
They found that in some cases, women who consumed nuts demonstrated a decreased risk for type 2 diabetes when followed over long periods of time. But not all findings were able to support that conclusion and the benefit was only supported in women.7
Other studies have found that patients with type 2 diabetes may gain health benefits from consuming nuts. Research has shown that cashew consumption by people with diabetes is associated with better insulin control and cholesterol ratio,8 and increased HDL cholesterol and lower systolic blood pressure.9
Promotes Better Heart Health
Cashews, like all nuts, are a high-fat food, but they provide both poly- and monounsaturated fats—a healthy form of fat that helps boost heart health and reduce cholesterol levels when consumed in moderation.3 Cashews also provide diet-friendly fiber which is associated with a heart-healthy diet.
Studies also show that plant-based diets that include healthy fats and protein from nuts and seeds (rather than meat products) can boost heart health.10
Studies have even shown that nut consumption is significantly associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in those with type 2 diabetes.7