Can You Eat Cashew Fruit? Is It Poisonous?

Cashews are undoubtedly one of the healthiest snacks people munch on while binge-watching their favorite movies or seasons. Once you start eating them, it is quite hard to resist as they are highly addictive. They are one of the nuts that should come with a label “Maybe habit-forming.”

Not only are they great in taste, but they are power-packed with many health benefits. From improving your blood sugar levels to reducing cholesterol levels, eating cashews can do wonders for your body.

Some people enjoy eating them on their own, blended into creamy cashew nut butter or pureed into a dairy-free cream for sauces, soups, and even ice creams. There are many forms in which you can eat cashews and satisfy your cravings. A handful of cashews can make your every day a better day.

However, have you ever wondered why you have never seen shelled cashews in stores? You can get shelled almonds, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts, pine nuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, and even macadamia nuts but not cashews.

Unless you happen to work in a cashew plant or pick cashew apples from farms, it is quite rare to encounter shelled cashews. Do you know why? Many people are unaware that eating cashews in a certain form can cost them their lives as they contain a harmful toxin called urushiol.

Scroll down to find everything you need to know about raw cashews and why they are not seen in stores.

What is cashew, and how does it grow?

In 2019, a picture of cashews mid-growth went viral on social media. People were quite surprised to know that cashews grow on apples, and for some reason, that was not common knowledge.

Did you know cashews grow on apples before? If not, it is absolutely fine. Many people are unfamiliar with the growth process of cashews. Cashew is logically not a nut at all. Instead, it is a seed that grows on a cashew apple.

When the cashew apples grow in size, the cashews also grow inside the gray shells on the ends of those fruits. As soon as the cashews are ready, the cashew apples begin to fall from the tree.

First, the cashew apples are collected, and cashew nuts, still in their shells, are removed from the ends of the fruit. Later, they might be dried in the sun, depending on the manufacturer’s process.

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You must be wondering what happens to apples that cashews grow on? You can eat them, but you may not want to as they are quite bitter and runny. However, later apple cashews are used to manufacture jams, spreads, syrups, and vinegar. They taste much better in them than eaten fresh off the tree.

People love cracking shells and getting the nuts out. However, with cashews, they have never gotten a chance to do that as they are sold roasted only.

Why are cashews not sold with shells?

Cashews are great to munch on, but they can be quite dangerous too. The double-shell surrounding the raw cashew contains urushiol, a resin that can cause severe skin allergies and be toxic when ingested.

It is the same chemical that is found in the deadly poison ivy. It is present on the leaves of the cashew tree as well as in the raw cashews. Picking out cashew shells from trees can prove fatal if you are not careful.

People working in cashew processing plants are at high risk of developing severe skin allergies over time. That’s why workers there wear protective clothing and take other preventive measures.

Just like there are hazards associated with touching these shells, you can also get a fatal reaction after eating raw cashews.

Are raw cashews poisonous?

Besides containing urushiol, the raw cashews also contain two other components that are dangerous to ingest – anacardic acid and phenolic resin. Anacardic acid causes skin rashes and allergic reactions similar to urushiol.

However, the phenolic acid causes severe mucosal burns and eye irritation. In addition, it causes extensive pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when ingested. Even if you remove the outer layers, the oil in the shells still reaches into the cashew, making it dangerous for human consumption.

To make them edible, companies steam and roast cashews properly to remove the oils. The cashews sold in the market as raw have been previously processed to remove urushiol and other harmful components. Therefore, you can munch on them without any hesitation.

Cashews are undoubtedly the new world food. In the past, many people have lost their lives by eating this simple-looking nut. However, later, the people of Brazil figured that the fruit surrounding the cashew nut could be eaten, and it is the nut that is deadly.

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As time passed, early Brazilians found out that the nut can also be eaten if it is properly cooked or steamed to remove the harmful toxins. It might have been a trial and error process, with many people losing their lives from error testing.

However, it ultimately brought people a healthy and delicious snack to munch on while working in the office or watching the latest movie on their favorite couch.

What happens if you eat raw cashews?

After eating raw cashew, you will experience a wide range of symptoms. For example, if you are allergic to urushiol, you may experience throat swelling, resulting in an anaphylactic episode.

Other minor symptoms include nasal swelling, upset stomach, dizziness, and throat itching. The more raw cashews you eat, the more severe the symptoms will be.

Therefore, it is better to avoid eating raw cashews and not take the risk of a severe reaction.

How does the cashew fruit taste?

The cashew fruit is safe from urushiol and other harmful toxins, making it perfectly edible. The texture of the fruit is fibrous and spongy yet soft to chew on. However, the raw cashew fruit has a strong astringent flavor that may taste completely different from anything you have ever eaten.

Some people might be able to eat it. However, most people find it quite bitter and can not even take another bite.

Is cashew fruit healthy to eat?

Cashew apples may not taste nice, but they offer tons of health benefits. The bulbous stem of cashew fruit is a rich source of fiber, making it perfect for improving your digestion and gut health.

Moreover, it also contains a high amount of potassium, magnesium, copper, Vitamin C, and iron. When made into a juice, the cashew fruit can help relieve severe throat irritation as well as strengthen your immune system.

The list of benefits does not end here. The fruits contain tannins, which can help you reduce inflammation, control blood sugar levels and promote a healthy nervous system.

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If eating cashew fruit on its own is difficult, you can use the fruit’s pulp to make jams, syrups, and spreads. Also, you can prepare a flavorful curry by cooking cashew fruit with many aromatic herbs.

Are roasted cashews good for you?

Cashew is packed with many essential nutrients. If eaten right, cashews can work wonders for your body. Here are a few major health benefits of eating cashews: 

Great for healthy skin, hair, and bones

A handful of cashew contains 98% of your daily recommended intake of copper. Consuming copper might seem a little odd, but it is an important nutrient in the production of melanin. Melanin further helps to promote healthy skin and lustrous hair.

Moreover, cashews are a rich source of iron and magnesium, making them perfect for building strong bones and muscles. By eating cashews daily, you will no longer be dependent on beauty creams, hair oils, or supplements to make you strong and beautiful. 

High in protein

Like other nuts, cashews are a high source of protein too. With a handful of cashews, you can provide your body with enough proteins to function properly.

The best part is that eating even a small amount of cashews is more nutritiously beneficial than other protein sources. If you are a fitness enthusiast, cashews can be a perfect post-workout snack.

Anti-cancer properties

Do you want to protect yourself from developing cancer in the future? Eat a handful of cashews on a daily basis. They are packed with copper and proanthocyanidins that help stop the tumor cells from growing.

Weight loss

Do you want to cut back on your calories but still want to munch on a healthy snack? Then, a handful of cashews is the perfect choice for you. It is packed with all the essential nutrients to keep you energetic and satiated for a long time.

Cashews can be your perfect guilt-free snack when you are on the mission to shed extra pounds from your body.

Great for vision

Are you struggling with poor vision? Add roasted cashews to your mealtimes. It has high levels of lutein and other essential antioxidants to protect your eyes from getting damaged and improve your vision. The more consistently you eat cashews, the sharper your vision gets.