‘Cashews bring health benefits’

Not all cashews are bad news. Beginning with this hypothesis, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry sponsored a randomised control study on consumption of cashews. India is among the top cashew-producing nations.

The study, done in Chennai, went on to prove health benefits for those eating cashews, even showing positive results in the red rag area for these nuts: cholesterol. Besides reducing blood pressure, the nuts also increased HDL (good cholesterol), said a paper published in the latest edition of the Journal of Nutrition.

“It was earlier believed that all nuts were bad as they contain quite a lot of calories and people thought taking nuts would result in increased weight and high cholesterol. However, during the last decade or so, the nutritional value of nuts (almonds, pistachios and walnuts) and their health benefits have been proved by many studies. This particular study was done on cashew consumption among diabetics,” says V. Mohan, director, Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, Chennai, and lead author.

The study was conducted on Indians with type 2 diabetes. “This was a 12-week intervention trial where we gave 30 gm of raw cashews — not roasted or fried, or salted, or spiced — daily to the intervention arm participants. The control group was advised to continue their usual diet. Both groups were well-matched with the parameters at baseline,” he explains.

After 12 weeks, there was a reportedly a significant decrease in the systolic blood pressure (the upper value) in the group that consumed cashews and a significant increase in the good cholesterol or the HDL cholesterol levels in this group. There was no deleterious effect on body weight, blood sugars, HbA1C or LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). “Although about 20% of the fat in cashewnuts is of the saturated variety, it is predominantly stearic acid which is relatively neutral on blood lipids,” Dr. Mohan explains.

The cashews substituted a portion of the group’s diet. Sudha Vasudevan, head of foods and nutrition research, MDRF, says: ‘The beneficial effects seen may be due to the increased intake of MUFA, a good type of fat present in cashews, but replacing the carbohydrate calories in the diet.”

While this seems like good news, R. M. Anjana, one of the key investigators of the study, adds a note of caution: “It must be pointed out that the study was done using raw cashew nuts. The beneficial effects of cashew may be mitigated, if the cashew nut is salted or roasted in unhealthy oils or ghee.”

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 11:29:36 AM |

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