All plant-based foods contain benefits, but some, well, they surprise us more and more every day with the amazing ways they can boost our health and well-being. One of these is cashews. This healthy nut isn’t just deliciously creamy, and can act as a substitute for eggs, butter, cheese and even yogurt, but it’s also pretty incredible for your brain. All nuts and seeds contain beneficial fats, B vitamins and magnesium for a healthy mood, but cashews are one of the few actually linked to reducing not just anxiety, but also warding off general stress and even mild depression.
Nutrients in Cashews that Beat the Blues
Cashews are a tiny package of iron, magnesium, Vitamin B6, protein and important amino acids, and even omega 3 fats. All of these nutrients directly ward off mild depression and anxiety naturally. Here’s how:
Cashews are one of the best sources of the amino acid trytophan among all plant-based foods. This amino acid is critical for improving the uptake of serotonin in the brain and acts as a direct precursor to the anti-depressant hormone itself. So without trytophan in our diets, we not only can’t produce serotonin as effectively, but our bodies also can’t use the amount of serotonin that we do have. A depletion of serotonin can make us feel anxious, stressed, and just downright sad. Trytophan is found in many plant-based foods, but is incredibly dense in cashews with 1000-2000 milligrams per 1/4 cup serving. (Other good sources in lower amounts are bananas, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, almonds and sweet potatoes, just to name a handful.)
Cashews are also richer in magnesium than the more well-known nut, almonds. Magnesium is critical to a healthy mood and nervous system, helping treat anxiety and depression as a result. Magnesium also fights low blood sugar that can contribute to anxiety, and cashews contain roughly 83 miligrams per serving.
Calming Vitamin B6
The Vitamin B6 in cashews helps with the uptake of serotonin in the body as well. Both Vitamin B6 and trytophan work to create a relaxed, zen state that helps fight a sour or anxious mood. Vitamin B6 also reduces depression and improves overall brain health by helping magnesium reach cells more effectively. Cashews are one of the best sources, along with avocados, pumpkin seeds, bananas, pumpkin, greens, chia, and sweet potatoes.
The healthy fats in cashews are also important for a balanced mood and preventing depression. A low fat diet may be necessary for those with specific heart health issues, but a little healthy fats each day is important for your mood and heart health, specifically mono-unsaturated fats like nuts and seeds. Cashews are one of the best sources of mono-unsaturated fats and as a result can help keep your brain healthy to ward off depression naturally.
The Bottom Line on This Incredible Nut
Dr. Andrew Saul, featured in the popular film Food Matters, even says that cashews are such a win for depression and stress that they provide the same mood-boosting effects equivalent to Prozac! Though we can’t make any promises, consuming 1/4 cup per day is a great way to try it out for yourself due to the nutrition powers this humble nut holds.
Depression is a serious mental health issue, not to be taken lightly, so please, don’t assume that eating cashews every day will in fact cure depression on their own. Yet, keep in mind that the nutritional benefits this nut has to offer do show to be promising in balancing brain health naturally, in correspondence with an otherwise healthy diet. Eating plenty of plant-based foods and staying clear of processed foods are also important to ward off the blues and jitters naturally.
If you don’t already love cashews as much as we do, then try some of our cashew recipes, such as nut butter, oatmeal, energy bars and bites, vegan cheese and homemade cashew milk. What a delicious way to take care of our brains and bodies!
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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