Nourishing, rich, and satisfying, with complete protein, heart-healthy Oleic acid, and a hearty dose of minerals and vitamins, these nearly-RAW organic cashews are crisp, buttery, and delicious, perfect for snacking by the handful.
Typical cashew-producers use high-heat process during shelling that significantly degrade proteins, enzymes, and essential fatty acids. We scoured the planet to find a source that uses the least amount of heat for the least amount of time and discovered these nearly-RAW Vietnamese cashews, which are quick-steamed in order to preserve their fresh flavor and rich nutrient content.
You'll love them in trail mixes, salads, smoothies, and cookies, or as a base in non-dairy recipes and vegan desserts.
RAW Foodists are well aware of the slippery usage of terms like "raw" and "cold-pressed" in food marketing.
Many "raw" nuts, for example, may still be steamed, boiled, or exposed to high temperatures during shelling or drying, but are labeled "raw" simply because they aren't roasted. Cashews are no exception.
Cashews are notoriously hard to harvest because they are contained in a shell filled with a highly allergenic resin related to poison ivy. High heat methods have been developed that safely and efficiently open the shell, but these techniques "cook" the cashew at best, or even scorch it at worst, damaging proteins, enzymes, and oxidizing the cashew's delicate essential fatty acids (which makes them less tasty and much less healthy).
Our source exclusively uses solar-drying, and has developed a quick-steam process for shelling that raises the cashew's temperature to no more than 50 ̊C (about 122 ̊F).
Our farming partners go through their plantation during harvest season three time a week to collect the nuts. The fruits are left as fertilizer around the trees and the nuts are sun-dried for a few days before being brought to a central processing facility, where they are further sun-dried to reach optimal moisture content (thus preventing any growth of mold or fungus).
The cashew nuts are housed inside a hardwood shell, which contains a sticky, irritating resin. While many processors roast or fry their cashews to remove this resin, our partners use a quick-steam process, lasting about 10 minutes at 100 ̊C (212 ̊F). However, during this process the cashew itself is not exposed to temperatures higher than 50 ̊C (122 ̊F).
At this point, the shells are ready for hand-cracking, using a special scissor-like tool, and the finished cashews are quickly vacuum-sealed and shipped to our air-conditioned facility in Southern California.
The Essential Living Foods Difference
We honor the work of everyone who brings this amazing food to your table, so our farming partners and processors are paid fairly. By purchasing this product, you are helping to support sustainable, organic, family-owned farms around the world.
In order to provide a pure, high-quality organic cashew (at a much more affordable price than our hand-cracked Verified RAW Balinese cashews) we scoured the planet and sampled countless cashews to find a source that uses the least amount of heat for the least amount of time during shelling.
When we tasted our Vietnamese cashews, we knew they were the right ones. They are so fresh and delicious, with a pleasant aroma and smooth, clean flavor — they're the closest thing we've tasted to our RAW Balinese cashews.
Crack one in half and you'll see a clean white center that fades only slightly toward the edges — a line showing where the quick-steam cracking process has slightly heated the oils, starches, and proteins at the surface. The cashews don't reach more than 50 ̊C (about 122 ̊F).
Naturally, our source — a cooperative of family farms who have been cultivating cashew trees for over 30 years — is certified organic and kosher. In order to encourage high yields and excellent quality cashews, they recently adopted a composting system (financed by our partners) that uses locally-sourced guano and vegetable matter.
The organic premium paid for these cashews directly supports healthy, vibrant communities, eliminating poverty living-conditions while encouraging education and continued adherence to clean, sustainable farming practices.
Unfortunately, global warming is already impacting cashew yields throughout Asia, with some regions showing a decrease of 60% compared to just 10 years ago, and many farmers are switching to growing rubber for the Chinese car industry. By purchasing this premium product, you are voting for a more sustainable future for Asia and for our planet.
Nutrition: Contents & Benefits
Cashews are a hunger-slaying complete protein in a relatively low-carb package, providing nourishing, heart-healthy fats with a hearty dose of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
Protein & Amino Acids
Cashews, unlike most nuts and seeds, provide an ideal balance of the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein — perfect for vegetarians and vegans who may not be getting a proper balance of essential aminos.
Cashews are also relatively low in carbs, and particularly low in sugars, so they're unlikely to wreak havoc on blood-sugar levels, and they're an excellent addition to low-carb diets and ketogenic weight-loss plans.
Cashews, like most nuts and seeds, have higher levels of fats than protein and carbs, but these fats are renowned for their heart-healthy nutrition. Especially as part of a
54% of the fat in cashew is Oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid). Oleic acid is the monounsaturated fatty acid that makes olive oil a uniquely heart-healthy vegetable oil. Research has long been clear about the benefits of oleic acid for proper balance of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol in the body, but Oleic acid may also be responsible for the hypotensive (blood pressure reducing) effects of olive oil by changing signaling patterns at the cell membrane level. Oleic acid also keeps cell membranes soft and fluid, allowing helpful anti- inflammatory substances like omega-3 fatty acid to penetrate the cell membrane more easily. (Consuming trans-fats, for example, can stiffen the walls of our cells, inhibiting their ability to ‘breathe,’ while healthy fats like oleic acid can rejuvenate the cellular membrane.)
18% of the fat in cashew is Linoleic Acid, a polyunsaturated omega 6 essential fatty acid that the human body cannot produce on its own. Linoleic Acid is involved in many parts of the body's cell membrane, cell signaling, and inflammation systems. Shortage of linoleic acid is not common, and nutritionists generally advise that people reduce their intake of omega 6 oils (while increasing intake of omega 3 oils). This generalization is for the average American diet, which tends to be high in junky vegetable oils, fried foods, and very poor quality rancid nuts and other fats. For someone on a selective, health-conscious diet, a better prescription is to avoid consuming rancid omega 6 oils (often referred to as PUFAs or "polyunsaturated fatty acids") and ensure that only high quality, low- temperature, fresh PUFAs are consumed. Our carefully-processed and stored cashews perfectly fit that need.
The remaining fats in casheware the saturated fats palmitic acid (9%) and stearic acid (7%). Saturated fats have a negative reputation for interfering with cardiovascular health, but they should not be shunned entirely, especially in nuts, which provides a wide variety of other nutrient co-factors that actually benefit cardiovascular health (including sterols: see below).
Stearic acid, for example, has been shown to have no impact on levels of blood cholesterol (Kris- Etherton, 1997).
Palmitic acid, has been likened to trans fats for a supposed negative impact on insulin, but this is based on studies involving diets of exclusively palmitic acid, without any other fats consumed. A Canadian study (French et all, 2002) showed that high consumption of palmitic acid does not raise cholesterol as long as linoleic acid is also being consumed. (On the other hand, combining palmitic acid with trans-fats definitely had a negative effect on LDL/HDL cholesterol ratios.) Coincidentally, nature's wisdom has endowed cashew with a perfectly complementary mix of both Palmitic and Linoleic acids.
Another reason that nuts are widely considered heart-healthy, despite their higher fatty acid content, is that they contain phytosterols, which actually help to lower cholesterol levels by blocking absorption of cholesterol in the digestive system. New research is also beginning to suggest that sterols may help to balance the immune system and reduce inflammation. Cashews are relatively high in sterols, with about 53 mg in a 1/4 cup serving.
Minerals & Vitamins
Cashews are a fairly good source of several important trace minerals related to metabolism and cell function, some of which play an important role in the formation of the body's own antioxidants.
In particular, cashews are a very good source of copper, and a good source of manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous. Also supplied in meaningful quantities are Vitamin K, Selenium, Zinc, Iron, Potassium, and B Vitamins.
Just 34 grams of cashews (about 1/4 cup) provides the following percentages of your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA):
Magnesium 25% Phosphorus 20% Vitamin K 14.5% Zinc 13%
Iron 12% Selenium 10% Vitamin B1 9.6% Vitamin B6 7.2% Potassium 6% Vitamin B5 2.4% Folate 2% Calcium 1.2%
Magnesium is an alkaline mineral necessary for heart and muscle function, for arterial relaxation, and for proper mental focus. Magnesium balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, and has been linked to increased happiness and improved mood — it even relieve constipation. Much of the magnesium in your body actually resides in your skeleton, both for structural reasons and as a reserve for nerves, muscles, and blood to draw on when needed. Magnesium is a counterbalance to Calcium, the neural activation mineral. Essentially, Magnesium helps to keep nerves, muscles, and blood vessels in a relaxed state, possibly helping to prevent cramps, nervous exhaustion, headache, and more. Studies show that Magnesium can reduce or mitigate incidents of migraine, heart attacks, and asthma attacks, while lowering blood pressure. Unfortunately, more than 80% of Americans suffer from magnesium deficiency, so enjoy your cashews!
Manganese is central to building bone, cartilage, and connective tissue, while also helping iron to oxygenate the blood.
Iron is a crucial component of the cardiovascular system, allowing red blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to every single cell in the body. Iron is also a crucial component in the body's manufacturing of enzymes and is used as an intracellular energy transporter.
Zinc is vital to a healthy immune system, liver, pancreas, and skin, and it is crucial in sexual development, fertility, and cell growth. It is also a central building block in hundreds of enzymes
throughout the body.
B Vitamins are central to healthy nervous system and cellular energy functions, and Vitamin K is a vital part of blood and vascular healing.
Copper, the superstar mineral in cashews, is a crucial component in blood oxygenation, skeletal and connective tissue formation, skin health and healing (it's a major component of the latest skincare products), immune function, and even cardiovascular flexibility and resilience.
All of these vitamins and minerals play important roles in supporting normal body function and health, but Copper and Selenium are notably involved in the body's antioxidant defense system (see below).
Copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes, particularly Superoxide Dismutase, the body's home- grown cellular antioxidant. Superoxide Dismutase is a crucial component of all cellular function, but it is particularly important for preventing or soothing inflammation in the body. Other minerals involved in producing Superoxide Dismutase include Manganese and Zinc, both of which are amply provided by Cashews.
Another notable, important micronutrient in cashews is Selenium, which is under investigation for its potent protective effects. Selenium works by helping the body to make another antioxidant enzyme called glutathione-peroxidase. Having sufficient blood selenium levels is linked to a lower risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, coronary artery disease, and liver cirrhosis, while studies have shown that in populations with low selenium intake, cancer rates are higher. One study linked selenium supplementation with a 48% to 63% lower cancer rate (especially prostate, colorectal, and lung cancer).
In addition to these antioxidant-cofactors, cashews (like most nuts) supply actual antioxidants with fairly well researched impacts on human health. A 1/4 cup of cashews (about 34 grams) provides 8.4 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin — important carotenoid antioxidants related to eye health. They are literally incorporated into the retina, where they help to prevent damage from high-energy light. Various studies have suggested that carotenoid intake, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin, may help to protect against age-related macular degeneration.
Cashews may be beneficial as part of a comprehensive weight loss program involving exercise, reduced carbohydrate consumption, and increased consumption of healthy fats. Despite the popular trend toward low-fat diets, a 2007 study showed that eating nuts two or more times a week was better for maintaining body weight than avoiding nuts. Because of their higher fat content and very low sugar content, cashews help contribute to feelings of satiety, so they are a natural first step in any weight-loss diet, potentially helping to diminish cravings for less-healthy, carb-rich foods.
A Note on Freshness
Due to their high content of monounsaturated oleic acid and saturated fats, cashews stay fresh longer than typical nuts and seeds. However, because they also contain polyunsaturated fats (linoleic acid), which are very sensitive to heat and oxidation, they should be treated like any other nut and stored in a cool, dry, air-tight container. Under these conditions, cashews will stay fresh for up to six months.