The cashew seed is often considered a nut in the culinary sense; and the nut, native to South America with a soft consistency and sweet flavour, is eaten on its own, and can be found all over the world.
In Rwanda, cashew nuts can be found in supermarkets and some nutritional clinics.
For instance, at Amazon Nutrition Cabinet, a clinic in Remera, Kigali that deals with diet, physical wellness and lifestyle, a small tin of cashew nuts goes for Rwf 3,000.
According to Private Kamanzi, a dietician and nutritionist at the clinic, most people are not aware of such nuts, which are very nutritious.
He says the consumption of cashew nuts locally is still low despite their availability.
Kamanzi says cashews are nuts, and most nuts are very rich in zinc, copper, magnesium, fibre, vitamin B as well as iron, which are all micronutrients and essential for good health.
Cashew nuts, he says, have a high concentration of zinc, therefore, consuming them can keep prostate cancer at bay.
He notes that these nuts are also good for people with diabetes, as they are known to for lower blood sugar levels, and boost overall heart health.
Cashew nuts contain copper, which, experts say, is a good nutrient for blood synthesis.
Also, Kamanzi says, because of the presence of magnesium, cashew nuts can protect and strengthen the cardiac muscles.
“Cashew nuts are highly recommended for heart health. Alongside magnesium, they have good cholesterol making it a good option for those with bad cholesterol levels as they help eliminate bad fats,” he says.
David Rukerabigwi, a dietician and nutritionist currently working with Slim n’ Fit, a weight loss and wellness centre in Kigali, says cashew nuts have unsaturated fats, which are beneficial to the human heart.
He says because of this, they help protect one from cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and stroke.
Because they are rich in fibre, Kamanzi says they can facilitate the digestion of food, for those with ingestion problems.
This, Kamanzi says, is easy to achieve, noting that one can make a habit of snacking on cashew nuts after meals.
“Cashew nuts provide fibre that will automatically increase the rate of food absorption, thus improve digestion,” he says.
Kamanzi says cashew nuts are also beneficial to people who are anaemic, because they increase blood production as a result of the copper and zinc.
Rukerabigwi says when it comes to losing weight, cashew nuts are good because the speed up the metabolism process.
“Taking cashew nuts on a regular basis can help one maintain healthy weight and boost body metabolism,” he says.
Ways to consume cashew nuts
Kamanzi says to put into consideration that cashew nuts are included in other diets, whether it is for weight loss or something else.
“Just like other type of foods that help with weight loss, cashew nuts when added to other diets will facilitate weight loss,” he says.
Kamanzi says it’s important to seek advice from nutritionists on how to eat these nuts for their health benefits.
He says that cashew nuts are normally ready to eat, and one can take advantage of this and make them part of their snacks, instead of snacking on other unhealthy foods like chocolates, cakes, and others.
They can be used to make dairy alternatives, such as cashew milk, cashew-based cheese and cashew-based cream sauces and sour cream.
Kamanzi notes that cashew nuts can be used in form of flour, mixed with other cereals, or taken as nutritious porridge.Follow Lydia_AtienoM