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There is more to nuts than you may realize. Take the example of cashews. Cashew trees are native to Brazil and they are considered a delicacy in Brazilian and Caribbean cuisine. They are shaped like kidneys, or like a smile, which may indicate what they can help with your mood.
Cashews health benefits and their nutrients facilitating mood-related benefits include:
Many North Americans are low in magnesium and a quarter-cup serving of cashews provide 25% of your daily requirement of magnesium. A 2012 study appearing in Nutrition Journal found that those who had higher levels of magnesium had a lower likelihood of having depression, central obesity and body fat percent overall.
An important component found in proteins is an amino acid called tryptophan. The body requires this amino acid to produce serotonin. Serotonin is a neuro-chemical important in the brain that affects mood, sexual desire, memory, sleep and appetite. The prominent theory of depression holds that when the serotonin level is low, depression can set in, in addition to anxiety and other mood issues. It just so happens that a serving of cashews contain a whopping 28% of our body’s daily requirement of tryptophan (the precursor to serotonin). This is one of the main reasons why cashew may help with depression, from its source of tryptophan.
This interesting vitamin is also found in cashews. We know that the body requires vitamin B6 in the process of converting tryptophan into serotonin. We also know that B6 helps magnesium to get into the body’s cells more effectively and are best taken together.
It may be that this interesting combination of magnesium, tryptophan and vitamin B6, all found in cashews is what helps cashews to help depression.
On top of eating cashews for depression, cashews are an excellent source of heart-protective mono-unsaturated fats. Yes, nuts have a lot of fat, but cashews have a low level compared to other nuts, and it is particularly high in the mono-unsaturated fat that olives are famous for, oleic acid. Many studies have shown the benefits of oleic acid for cardiovascular health. Large studies have shown that those who consume nuts at least four times a week have 37% reduced risk of developing coronary heart disease, compared to those who never or seldom ate nuts. Many are fearful of eating nuts since it is high in fats, however a study in the journal Obesity found that those who ate nuts at least twice a week were 31% less likely to gain weight compared to those who didn’t eat nuts.
Cashews are also an excellent source of the mineral copper. If copper is low in your body, it can promote anemia, weaker bones and blood vessels, elevated LDL cholesterol and make you more prone to developing infections. A serving of cashews will give you 38% of your daily copper requirement.
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