Are Cashews a Good Choice for Weight Loss?

Woman showing handful of cashews in close up

Weight loss can be a challenging concept at the best of times. After all, there is so much information out there and it can be difficult to work out which approaches are the best for you.

But, one important aspect to consider is the specific foods you eat. Some foods will complement weight loss while others will make the process even more difficult.

So, what about cashews? Are cashews good for weight loss?

Personally, I find cashews interesting. Most discussions on the health benefits of nuts tend to focus on almonds, although there is also some emphasis on walnuts as well. On the other hand, cashews are often ignored.

But, cashews are an important type of nut and one that we shouldn’t overlook. Plus, some research even suggests that we should be paying more attention to the amount of nuts we eat, rather than which nuts we choose specifically.

With all of that in mind, where do cashews fall? Are they a good part of our weight loss plan or should we be largely avoiding them?

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The Nutrition and Health Benefits of Cashews

Like most nuts, cashews are a key source of healthy nutrients. One example of this is the fact that they offer a substantial amount of different amino acids, which makes the nuts a quality source of protein overall (1).

At the same time, cashews also offer a number of significant nutrients, including vitamin K, copper, magnesium, iron and manganese (2).

In fact, the magnesium in cashews makes them especially important for health, especially as many people may not get enough magnesium currently (3).

Cashews and Weight Loss

With so many different types of nuts out there – relatively little research has been done on cashews, especially in relation to weight loss. Most studies have considered nuts in general and the emphasis has often been on health rather than weight loss.

Basket of cashews

The general argument is that, as with other types of nuts, the protein in cashews is really what makes them significant for weight loss. That protein is important because it ends up being pretty satisfying (4).

In fact, nuts end up being more filling than most other snacks that you would have. That’s great for weight loss, as having a filling snack may make it easier to stick to your diet.

Additionally, cashews have more substance than many other snack options, which also makes you more likely to be satisfied. This may be why nuts are not associated with weight gain, even though people often assume that they would be (5).

For example, people often turn to snacks like rice cakes when it comes to weight loss because of how low these are in calories. Yet, snacks like that are heavily processed and just leave you craving more. In contrast, just a handful of cashews would often be much more satisfying.

Nuts, Weight Loss and Health

For quite some time, nuts have been viewed as a pretty unhealthy addition to the diet. After all, they do contain a significant amount of fat and we have been taught that we should be avoiding fat in our diets. But, fat isn’t actually the villain that people commonly assume – even if you’re trying to lose weight.

For example, the site Food Renegade talks about how you can lose weight by eating fat. 

In fact, growing evidence supports the idea that a low carb diet can be at least as effective for weight loss as a low-fat diet. For some people, a low carb diet may even be more effective and may be easier to follow (6). Likewise, low carb diets have also been linked to improved metabolic outcomes, including decreases in lipid levels (7) and improvements in risk factors for heart disease (8).

Research has also suggested the use of a moderate-fat diet, one which follows a similar approach to the Mediterranean diet. Such an approach would offer a powerful overall lifestyle and something that people can follow in the long-term (9).

This means that we shouldn’t ignore nuts simply because they contain fat.

At the same time, it’s important to consider the distribution of fat within nuts. In the case of cashews, there is an average of 12 grams of fat for a 1-ounce serving (which is lower than for almonds and some other nuts). For cashews, the fat profile breaks down like this:

Fat profile of cashews

This profile means that the fat content of cashews (and of nuts in general) is healthier than most people assume. In fact, moving from saturated fat to monounsaturated fat is associated with weight loss (10).

Indeed, nuts are fairly significant for health overall.

In particular, they contain a significant number of antioxidant compounds and phytochemicals, all of which may play a role in promoting human health (11).

For example, one study found that supplementing with walnuts or cashew nuts could improve some markers of heart disease risk, without having any effect on weight or markers of metabolic syndrome (12). That outcome suggests that cashews may offer significant benefits, without contributing to weight gain.

Indeed, research has focused on the potential for nuts to act as a way to reduce heart disease risk although current answers are not conclusive (13,14). Regardless of the ongoing research in that field, there is still significant evidence that nut consumption can improve lipid levels, which could also contribute to improved glycemic control (15).

Nuts may offer significant health benefits and they are much healthier than most people assume. Indeed, they may even be very relevant for weight loss

Other Things to Consider

Growing cashews

Cashews are a type of tree nut and because of this, you do have to be aware of the possibility of an allergic reaction. It’s also important to note that tree nut allergy is entirely separate to a peanut allergy (peanuts are considered legumes, rather than tree nuts).

So, you might be okay with eating peanuts but have an allergy to tree nuts, or vice versa (16).

It is also possible to be allergic to cashews and not to any other type of nut (17). This means that you need to be careful the first few times you try cashews, just to be on the safe side – as you may be allergic without knowing it (18).

Additionally, if you want to lose weight while eating cashews, then it’s still important to be aware of how much you’re consuming and your calorie intake.

In general, people often struggle with being fully aware of their food intake. There are many reasons for this but often it happens because people assume that healthy food isn’t going to harm their weight loss efforts.

However, that’s never actually the case. Instead, you need to be aware of the food that you’re consuming, regardless of whether that food is healthy or not. This is especially true for nuts, as they do represent a significant source of calories.

If you're adding cashews into your diet, be aware of the potential for an allergic reaction and also pay attention to the calories that you're consuming

Are Cashews Good for Weight Loss?

Salted cashews

In general, nuts are a healthy addition to any diet and cashews certainly do fall into this category. Cashews offer a good source of healthy fat and of protein, in addition to the nutrients that they contain. So, this does make them a pretty healthy addition to the diet overall.

The protein that they contain also makes them very relevant for weight loss, especially as an alternative to a more heavily processed snack.

Indeed, cashews can still be a good part of a meal for weight loss for the same reason. This is also why nuts are included in many weight loss recipes, such as these No Bake Nut and Date Bars from The Healthy Mummy.

Overall, weight loss isn’t really about the specific foods that you do and do not eat. Instead, it’s about figuring out an overall lifestyle that works for you. For some people, including cashews in the diet may be a significant component of that but that may not be the case for everyone.

Additionally, nuts vary considerably in the types of macronutrients that they contain, meaning that the implications for health are going to vary from one type of nut to the next (19). Because of this, it may be beneficial to vary the nuts you include in your diet to get the most health benefits.

So, at the end of the day, cashews are a good option for a weight loss diet but they won’t make you lose weight on their own. Instead, they are just one addition to a larger lifestyle.

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Opinions on the different types of nuts vary a great deal. In the comments below, please let me know your favorite choice when it comes to nuts.

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