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Dry fruits are considered to be healthy snack options. However, cashew nuts are considered to be an unhealthy option because of a high-calorie content and hence, not advised to eat daily. And people suffering from high cholesterol level and diabetes are recommended to omit cashew nuts from a diet. Cashew nuts are generally not recommended by nutritionists and doctors in India. But what is not known is that cashew nuts contain healthy fats such as monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). They are also a good source of antioxidants, plant sterols and other micronutrients such as iron, magnesium and zinc. Here's more on amazing health benefits of cashew nuts.
Can cashew nuts help control cholesterol and body weight?
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition regular consumption of cashew nut may actually be beneficial for one s health including people with type 2 diabetes. The study was done by Dr V Mohan and his colleagues at Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF), Chennai. It showed that there was a significant decrease in the systolic blood pressure and a significant increase in the good cholesterol or the HDL cholesterol levels. There was no deleterious effect of cashew nut consumption on body weight, blood sugars, glycated haemoglobin or LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
How much is too much?
We had organised a twelve weeks intervention trial where we gave 30 gms of raw cashew nuts daily to the experimental group. The control group was advised to continue their usual diet. After 12 weeks, there was a significant decrease in the systolic blood pressure in the group that consumed cashew nut, says Dr Mohan, lead researcher of the study. He further added that although about 20% of the fat in cashew nut is of the saturated variety and it is predominantly stearic acid. This is relatively neutral on blood lipids suggesting that cashews could have beneficial effects that are similar to those of other nuts. Do read more on HDL & LDL cholesterol what do they mean?
Ms Sudha Vasudevan, Head of Foods & Nutrition Research at MDRF says, The beneficial effects seen may be due to the increased intake of MUFA from cashew nuts replacing the carbohydrate calories in the diet. Indians diets are traditionally deficient in MUFA which is a good type of fat and cashew nut supplementation can help to improve the MUFA content of the Indian diet.
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