The cashew nut (Anacardium occidentale L.) is native to North-east Brazil. During the 16th century, the Portuguese took it from Brazil and introduced it into India (Kerala and Goa), Indonesia and Portuguese colonies in Africa such as Mozambique and Guinea Bissau. The principal producing countries of cashews are West Africa, India and Vietnam. East and West Africa are exporting almost all of their cashews to India, Vietnam and Brazil in-shell raw to be shelled and processed there.
Cashews are high in vitamin K and minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese and copper. They are also a source of fiber, thiamin, pantothenic acid and minerals as potassium and selenium.2,3
Of all nuts, cashews contain the highest amount of iron (6 mg/100 g).
Vitamin K contributes to normal blood clotting and to healthy bones.4
The cashew shell contains an inedible phenolic oil, known as cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL), which has many industrial uses.3 CNSL is useful for insecticidal, fungicidal, anti-termite and medicinal applications, as an additive in many plastic formulations, as well as in the manufacture of resins employed in the fields of friction materials, automobiles, surface coatings, adhesives, laminates and rubber compounding, among other applications.6
1) Papademetriou, M. K., & Herath, E. M. (1998). Integrated production practices of cashew in Asia. RAP Publication (FAO).
2) USDA Food Composition Databases. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28 slightly revised May, 2016: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list.
3) Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods:
4) Comission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32012R0432&from=EN.
5) INC (2015). Cashew Technical Information. http://www.nutfruit.org/wp-continguts/uploads/2015/11/FITXES-CASHEW-10-low.pdf.
6) Lubi, M. C., & Thachil, E. T. (2000). Cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL)-a versatile monomer for polymer synthesis. Designed Monomers and polymers, 3(2), 123-153.
7) Mwangi, P. M., Aule, C., & Thiong’o, G. T. (2013). Energy studies of some cashew nut by-products in Kenya. Int J Adv Res, 1, 880-887.