(NaturalNews) Newly certified organic production of Indonesian cashews in August 2009, prompted by the Swiss contact Indonesia group, provided a global economic stimulus for cashew farms in this Southeast Asian country over the past few years. Not only are the Indonesian cashew farmers enjoying the financial fruits of their labor, but consumers are also enjoying the distinctly sweet and nutty flavor of these specialty nuts, which offer less fat than other types of nuts and a multitude of minerals, vitamins and other nutritious substances for the human body.
Raw Indonesian cashews, harvested without heating the shells of the encased nut, offer solid nutrition with less total fat and more of the heart-healthy type of monounsaturated fat than other kinds of nuts. About 75% of cashew fat is unsaturated fat, with 75% of this being oleic acid; oleic acid, according to research, boosts cardiovascular health.
Cashew nuts, in general, may be eaten roasted and salted or roasted and sweetened; however, due to the heating or roasting process, the nutritive value of this super snack can be diminished. The nutrition of Indonesian cashews is kept intact through a special harvesting process, whereby farmers use a specially-designed tool to crack open each cashew shell manually. Whole, raw, organic Indonesian cashews can actually sprout and grow a tree.
A one-ounce snack size serving of cashews provides about 160 calories, which includes approximately 22% of the recommended daily allowance of fat intake suggested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The nut, however, includes zero cholesterol. Indonesian cashews are also an excellent nutrition source of protein and fiber, at 10% and 4% respectively, of daily recommended values.
An abundance of minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese, are found in Indonesian cashews, as well as a cornucopia of vitamins, such as vitamins B, C and E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid.
While consumers generally think of cashews as a snacking nut, Indonesian cashews are also used in a variety of recipes, from salads, to dipping sauces, to cashew butter, to baked goods, to breakfast omelets, to candy dishes. The benefit to using Indonesian cashews in recipes is that each serving size of cashews is smaller, with fewer calories ingested than if a person snacks on the delicious (and sometimes addicting) nuts themselves.
Care should be taken when purchasing Indonesian cashews in stores where the packaging states raw. These items are typically not roasted; however, if the cashews have been harvested using a heat source, i.e. steamed out of their shells, then they are not truly raw. Remember that the word, raw, means not heated or processed and nutrient values are higher in raw foods.
There are many other uses for Indonesian cashews, including use of the nut, the shell, the bark of the tree, and the seeds. The oil pressed from the nut has been used as an antifungal and as a treatment for cracked, dry skin on the feet. Cashew nutshell liquid is comprised of anacardic acids, which have been used to treat abscessed teeth by killing the bacteria. The bark of cashew trees can be scraped, soaked for 24 hours, and boiled for use as an antidiarrhea agent. Finally, the seeds can even be ground into powder form and used as antivenom for snake bites.
Alex Malinsky aka RawGuru is an award winning chef and one of the leading experts in the field of raw food. He started to learn about raw foods at the early at of 15. After 10 years on the raw food diet he continues to be on the cutting edge of nutritional research and product development. Visit Alex's website at: www.RawGuru.com for more information.