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Health April 2017

Eat Right Now

I'm Cuckoo for Cashews

By Wendell Fowler

Two handfuls of cashews is the therapeutic equivalent of a prescription dose of Prozac. Inside your temple chemistry, L-tryptophan is broken down into anxiety-reducing, snooze-inducing niacin.

Yes, I'm that guy who stealthily bogarts all the cashews in the party mix. I can't resist their seductive sweet creaminess. In my endless quest to research, then reveal God's original design for mankind to eat, I recently discovered my instinctive magnetism to the tasty tree nut is enriching my health and creating a feel-good vibe.

The cashew tree bears edible pear-shaped false fruits called "cashew apples." The tropical tree belongs to the plant family the mango, pistachio, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Native to Brazil's Amazon rain forest, the tree was spread all over the planet by Portuguese explorers, and today cashews are commercially cultivated in Brazil, Vietnam, India and many African countries.

Science supports eating cashews can be as effective as Prozac and other antidepressants in maintaining a positive mood. You see, cashews contain the amino acid L-tryptophan. Dr. Andrew Saul, a therapeutic nutritionist and editor-in-chief of Orthomolecular Medicine News Service says, "The body turns tryptophan into serotonin, a major contributor to feelings of sexual desire, good mood, and good sleep.”

Two handfuls of cashews is the therapeutic equivalent of a prescription dose of Prozac. Inside your temple chemistry, L-tryptophan is broken down into anxiety-reducing, snooze-inducing niacin. Tryptophan is made into serotonin that gives a feeling of well-being and mellowness. This is such a profound effect that Prozac, Paxil and similar antidepressants usually either mimic serotonin or artificially keep the body's own serotonin levels high.

Delicately flavored cashew nuts are very rich in vitamin C, protein, niacin, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, copper and zinc. Cashews make some superfoods lists for their concentration of protein, fiber, minerals and antioxidants and possess proanthocyanidins that actually starve tumors and stop cancer cells from dividing. Studies have also shown that cashews can reduce your colon cancer risk.

Cashews are high in heart-healthy "good fat" in the form of oleic acid, the same monounsaturated fat in olive oil. Studies show oleic acid reduces high triglyceride levels.

Seniors: Cashews are rich in magnesium necessary for strong bones; most of the magnesium in the human body is in our bones.

You can find raw, salted, sweetened or candied cashews. Buy shelled nuts that feature bright, cream-white color, and are compact, uniform and feel heavy in hand. Ditch the salted, sweetened, artificially flavored variety.

You will see "raw" cashews in the supermarket, but all cashews undergo some heat to remove the shell and a caustic substance. Cashews sold as "roasted" have been cooked twice, once during the shelling process and then roasted to deepen the color and enhance the flavor, sometimes with excessive salt. The New York Times reported, "No research has specifically addressed how roasting nuts may change their nutritional value, said Rui Hai Liu, a professor of food science at Cornell University, but opined, "I predict you will get health benefits from consuming either raw or roasted nuts."

Asian and Indian cuisines regularly include whole or chopped cashews as a stir-fry ingredient and curries. Sprinkle them into salads or grains; use them on top of breakfast cereals. Or do like I do: hit the local grocery for a bag for driving and bedside and eat them whole to eat as a snack out of hand. Read labels. If it lists added oil, pass. There should only be two ingredients: nuts and salt. I prefer raw over roasted, but that's just me – that nutty guy who is nuts about nuts.


Chef Wendell hosts Eat Right Now on WISH TV 8 CBS Indianapolis. He can be reached at 317-372-2592 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .Visit his website at

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