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Cashew nuts, raw? organic? (Cashew nuts)

Cashew nuts "raw" is a deception. High heat is used to deactivate the toxic shell oil: steam or roasting processes. Organic? Probably not!
We have provided the missing values for the nutritional information from the USDA database for this ingredient.

Many people believe that this product is a raw food because it appears to be in its natural state. However, in the majority of cases it isn’t raw! This is usually because the production process requires heat, and other alternative processes would involve much more time and money, as is the case here - or it has to be pasteurized. At least one of these reasons applies here.

If a product is labeled as raw, before it is sold it still may be mixed with other products that have undergone cheaper processes. Depending on the product, you may not be able to distinguish any differences when it comes to appearance or taste.

By the way, raw foodists should also understand that there are foods that are raw but that as such contain toxins — or that can only be eaten raw in small quantities. These are indicated with a different symbol.

Macronutrient carbohydrates 32.72%
Macronutrient proteins 19.75%
Macronutrient fats 47.53%

The three ratios show the percentage by weight of macronutrients (carbohydrates / proteins / fats) of the dry matter (excl. water).

Ω-6 (LA, 7.8g)
Omega-6 fatty acid such as linoleic acid (LA)
 : Ω-3 (ALA, 0.1g)
Omega-3 fatty acid such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
 = !:0

Omega-6 ratio to omega-3 fatty acids should not exceed a total of 5:1. Link to explanation.

Here, essential linolenic acid (LA) 7.78 g and almost no alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

The cashew nuts or cashew kernels ( Anacardium occidentale ) sold as " raw " are practically never raw due to the manufacturing process. Since the manufacturing process involves a lot of manual work and can be hazardous to health, you should definitely look for organic and fair trade certified products when buying cashews.

Use in the kitchen:

Cashew nuts are used for snacking, in muesli or roasted in a pan - in salads, curries, pesto, rice, pasta and Asian stir-fried dishes. Finely ground, they are used to make vegan cheese , cashew butter , cashew "milk", sauces or desserts . Cashew nuts (not cashew nuts) are particularly popular in the vegan scene and among raw foodists (who do not follow a diet), although they have an unfavorable fatty acid profile. Cashew nuts have a buttery, delicate, slightly sweet flavor that makes you tend to eat too much.

When the fruit is ripe, the stalk of the cashew nut swells up considerably and thickens into a 9 cm long, pear-shaped, yellow or red pseudofruit, which is known as a "cashew apple". This fruit is basically edible, tastes sweet and sour and contains up to five times more vitamin C than an orange. Because it is rich in bitter substances (tannins), it is rarely eaten raw, but rather cooked, dried, candied or processed into juice, pulp, jelly, chutney and alcoholic drinks. 13

Vegan recipe for cashew "cheese" with miso and coconut oil:

For the creamy cashew cheese, puree 300 g of soaked cashews and 1.5 tbsp of miso (soybean paste) with 175 ml of water in a blender or high-performance blender to form a homogeneous mass. Put the paste in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and leave it to ferment at room temperature for 12 hours. To refine the mixture, add 1.5 tsp of coconut oil, 1 tbsp of lemon juice and 0.25 tsp of salt to the cashew mixture after fermentation is complete. Then garnish the cashew cheese with fresh herbs and serve. You can find the full recipe HERE .

Note: A nut that is more valuable from a nutritional point of view is the macadamia nut . Not only does it contain significantly fewer omega-6 fatty acids, it also has a better ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (6:1). The ratio for cashews is 130:1. With its fine, almond-like taste and light appearance, the macadamia nut is a good alternative for recipes with a high proportion of cashews. Where it suits the taste, you can also replace some of the cashews with ground or crushed hemp, linseed or chia seeds.

Vegan recipes with cashew nuts can be found under the note: " Recipes that have the most of this ingredient ".

Not only vegans or vegetarians should read this:
Vegans often eat unhealthily. Avoidable nutritional mistakes

Shopping - where to buy?

Supermarket chains such as Coop , Migros , Denner , Volg , Spar , Aldi , Lidl , Rewe , Edeka or Hofer stock the sweet, nutty cashews. In addition to "raw" or "natural" cashews, you can also buy roasted, salted, caramelized and seasoned cashews - pure or in nut mixes. "Raw" in this case simply means unroasted. You can get the nuts in organic quality in organic supermarkets such as Denns or Alnatura , in health food stores, organic shops or in drugstores. Cashews are in season for us all year round .

Really raw cashews are not available in stores because they are heat-treated after harvesting to deactivate toxic oils in the shell. In addition, the high heat allows the very hard shell to be opened. You can find more information in our article "Cashew nuts, dry roasted, unsalted" .

The production process of cashew nuts requires a lot of manual labor and takes place under conditions that are harmful to health. Therefore, when buying cashew nuts, make sure you buy fairly traded products that have a recognized Fairtrade seal and come from controlled organic farming.


Cashew nuts should be stored in a cool, dry place, protected from light and hermetically sealed. Chopped nuts are best stored in the refrigerator. This prevents mold formation, premature spoilage due to oxidation and the absorption of odors from the environment. Freezing cashew nuts can increase their shelf life to up to 12 months. Spoiled nuts can be recognized by their unpleasant rancid taste. 8

Ingredients - Nutritional value - Calories:

Cashew nuts are rich in carbohydrates, fats and proteins and have 553 kcal/100g.

The seeds are rich in minerals and trace elements, with copper being particularly noteworthy at 2.2 mg/100g. However, black mustard seeds contain about a hundred times more (205 mg/100g), sesame seeds contain 4.08 mg/100g and cocoa beans or cocoa powder contain 3.79 mg/100g. 9

Cashew nuts are known for their high tryptophan content (0.29 g/100g). Higher amounts are found in sesame (0.39 mg/100g) or hemp seeds (0.37 mg/100g). 9

Cashew nuts contain relatively high levels of essential omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic acid, LA : 7.8 g/100 g = 78% of the daily requirement or maximum daily amount) and very low levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid, ALA) . The LA:ALA ratio is at least 48:1 and sometimes goes up to 130:1. Peanuts have an even worse ratio at 160:1. 9 Since the receptors for the pro-inflammatory LA and the anti-inflammatory ALA are the same, a health-promoting ratio of at least 5:1 is desirable. The Federal Nutrition Commission ( EEK ) also recommends reducing the ratio to 5:1. The smaller the ratio, the higher the conversion rate into the anti-inflammatory, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids ( EPA eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA docosahexaenoic acid ). 2.11 With a western diet, you normally achieve a ratio of 10:1. Erb-Müesli, for example, can correct this. In the list of ingredients, select "sorting by health values" to filter healthy ingredients - or those that correct an unfavorable ratio. The same applies to recipes, e.g. with the LA:ALA ratio criterion.

Anacardiaceae, which include cashews, contain a lot of essential oil and sometimes resins, acids and phenols (cardol). 3

You can find all the ingredients, the coverage of the daily requirement and comparison values with other ingredients in our nutrient tables. In the article Nutrients explained you will get a detailed insight into the topic.

Health aspects - effects:

How healthy are cashew nuts? A diet with a high proportion of omega-6 fatty acids (LA) and a low proportion of omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) promotes long-term inflammatory processes, thrombosis and narrows blood vessels and bronchi. There is also evidence that an unfavorable ratio leads to more atherosclerotic diseases. 2,10

Vegans and vegetarians show a ratio of 17:1 to 24:1, largely because of the popularity of cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds and vegetable oils.

It is important to consume Omega-6-rich seeds, nuts and vegetable oils in moderation and to provide the body with sufficient Omega-3 fatty acids, e.g. through ground linseed (22.8g/100g), ground chia seeds (17.8 g/100g), walnuts or tree nuts (9.1 g/100g), rapeseed oil (9.1 g/100g), ground, unpeeled hemp seeds (8.7 g/100g), leafy vegetables or herbs. The foods listed are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and/or have a particularly good ratio to Omega-6 fatty acids. 2.9

Are cashews healthy? Cashews provide valuable nutrients and, if consumed irregularly and in moderation, the higher proportion of omega-6 fatty acids is not a problem. However, calling them a superfood is misleading because of the unfavorable fatty acid ratio.

For practically all foods, you will find detailed tables after the text, which can also be accessed from the recipes. The recipes also summarize this. For example, Erb-Müesli or Erb-Müesli plus oat flakes have the ideal composition in the ratio of LA to ALA of 1:1.

We can only warn: vegans and vegetarians who are misinformed or uninformed generally live worse than normal eaters - and a study is sure to come out that will ruthlessly expose this (see link in the box above). This would then stop the vegan hype that is so important for animal welfare and the environment and discredit the oriented minority. This has been our fear since 2014! See this link to see what happened with raw food: The Giessen Raw Food Study .

Dangers - Intolerances - Side effects:

Some people are allergic to cashews, but this allergy occurs much less frequently than with other types of nuts. 12

Are cashews poisonous? It is not the kernel but the shell of the cashew that contains poisonous oils that must be deactivated by a roasting or steam heating process. This produces black smoke with caustic fumes. Contact of the oil with mucous membranes causes severe burns. The oil is highly irritating to the skin. 13 If not processed properly, residues of the toxic shell oil may remain on the kernel.

Folk medicine - natural medicine:

The Indian population obtained cashew nuts by roasting them and used the shell oil for medicinal purposes as a bandage. They made juices and wine from the cashew apple. 3

Occurrence - Origin:

The genetic center of the cashew ( Anacardium occidentale ) is in northeastern Brazil. The Spanish spread it to Central America, and later the Portuguese to East Africa, India and Southeast Asia. The tree is now grown in all tropical countries, especially in Africa and in areas from India to Vietnam. It was only the development of an industrial roasting process to separate the shell oil that made the nut the main product. 7,13

The main growing areas for cashew nuts today are Vietnam, India, Ivory Coast, Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Tanzania, Benin, Nigeria and Mozambique. According to Wikipedia, 44% of the world harvest came from the African continent in 2017, with Vietnam being the largest producer with 22% of the world harvest. The main supplier countries for the German market are India (approx. 75%), Vietnam and Brazil. 12,13

Cultivation - Harvest:

The entire cashew fruit (cashew apple and kernel) is harvested. The cashew apple, actually a thickened fruit stalk with the nut attached, is very sensitive to pressure and cannot be stored. If you want to process it into cashew juice or jam, this must be done immediately after harvesting. Harvest residues, sand and stones are removed. The cashew kernel we know is the actual seed of the fruit and is contained in the rock-hard shell that hangs under the cashew apple. The unshelled nut makes up about 20% of the total weight of the whole fruit. 5

Production - Manufacturing:

Cashew nuts go through complex processing phases before they can be eaten. In addition to the laborious manual work that requires a great deal of sensitivity and skill, there are also processes that are harmful to health. Consumers should be aware of the conditions under which production takes place. This video on the production of cashew nuts shows the complex manufacturing process, which is almost 100% manual. 1

There are many small companies that harvest cashew nuts and prepare them for trade (e.g. Peace Corps). This prevents rural exodus and gives the residents a job. Almost the entire harvest from Africa is processed in Vietnam. This has a major impact on the environment because the raw nuts, which weigh five times as much as the roasted products, have to be transported. 4

In addition, the shell is very difficult to open without heating. There are a few traditional methods (eg in Sri Lanka) where they are opened individually using a hammer on stones. Direct contact of the toxic shell oil with mucous membranes can cause chemical burns, which is why the workers have to wear gloves. However, the rubber dissolves very easily due to the caustic oil. They often rub their hands with cooking oil, clay, wood or potash to avoid direct skin contact. 6

For larger quantities and especially for export, processes that involve high heat are used. Before roasting, the cashews must be soaked in water for a few hours to prevent them from glowing when heated. The moisture content of the nut should be at least 9%. 5 At high temperatures, the shell cracks open relatively quickly and the kernel is accessible. To do this, the cashews are boiled, steamed or roasted in suitable containers. However, this process also involves health risks: the toxic oil they contain produces black smoke with corrosive fumes during the heating process (approx. 190 °C).

After a 24-hour drying period in the shade, the outer shell can sometimes be opened by hand. In practice, a special device is required. It is similar to a nutcracker that is operated with a foot pedal. To do this, the nut is placed between the sharp blades of the device and the shell is split. There are also mechanical methods, but the risk of breakage is much greater. Here, too, there is a risk of residues of the corrosive shell oil.

To protect themselves, many workers use the natural remedies mentioned above instead of expensive gloves. Since the demand for white cashews is the highest, the dark, thin skin (testa) around the edible cashew kernel has to be removed in a further step. To make this process easier, the cashew kernels are dried again. Traditionally, they were placed in the sun or dried over an open fire at around 55-60 °C. Increasingly larger quantities, however, require mechanical drying processes, such as in heated drawers (at around 70 °C).

This process also serves as protection against fungal attack. The moisture content is reduced to around 3%. In this state, the cashews are particularly sensitive, which is why they are most often peeled by hand. Mechanical processes result in around 30% more breakage, which greatly reduces the quality.

In order to get a good price for cashews, the shelled kernels have to be sorted by hand. Machine sorting results in too much breakage, as only large, whole cashews achieve the highest quality level. Before packaging, the moisture content should be around 5% again to ensure greater stability of the kernels. If the humidity is high, this happens automatically and the kernels do not need to be moistened separately. The cashews are packaged airtight, the oxygen is removed and they are also gassed with CO 2 to prevent colonization by harmful bacteria and fungi.

In the meantime, organic farming methods and fair trade have become established. Today, the mainly manual and laborious production of cashew nuts in fairly organized cooperatives is a lucrative business for local small farmers and workers.

Animal protection - species protection - animal welfare:

Cashew flowers are pollinated by bees, flies, ants and wind. 12

General information:

The cashew tree ( Anacardium occidentale ), which grows in tropical climates, belongs to the sumac family ( Anacardiaceae ) and bears cashew apples and cashew nuts. 12

What are cashew nuts? At the bottom of the fleshy, thickened fruit stalk hangs a small, greenish to brownish, kidney- or boxer-glove-shaped structure measuring 2-3.5 cm in length, in which there is a single cashew kernel. Are cashew kernels nuts? Botanically speaking, the cashew kernel is a nut or a stone fruit, depending on your point of view. The cashew apple is a false fruit. 12,13

Alternative names:

Alternative names and alternative spellings for cashew kernels or cashews for short are cashew kernels, cashew nuts, cashew nuts, cashew nut, cashew nuts, cashew fruit, cashew kernels or elephant louse.

The name cashew nut comes from the Portuguese names "Caju" or "Cajueiro", which are based on "Acaju = kidney tree" from the Indian Tupi language. Other Indian tribes called the cream-colored kernels "Merei" or "Marañon". The German names cashew kernel or cashew nut are derived from the English name cashew. The cashew tree is also known as the cashew tree, Acajou tree, kidney tree or West Indian kidney tree. 3,12

Important English names are cashew (nuts), cashew (tree), cashew (apple) or cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL).

Key words for use:

Cashew shell oil (CNSL) is obtained primarily through the roasting process. It consists of anacardic acid (70%), cardol (18%) and cardanol (5%). It is processed into synthetic resins, brake pads, clutch discs, paints, etc. 7 and is used medicinally.

Literature - Sources:

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