If a pill could make you smarter, happier and healthier, not a soul would pass it up. Well, nuts can fulfill such a promise, and plenty of Americans aren’t eating them, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Case in point: delicious cashews.
Rich in magnesium, fiber and mono- and polyunsaturated fats, cashews are a great addition to any heart-healthy diet. The fiber and good fats help reduce blood levels of “bad cholesterol” (low-density lipoprotein or LDL), while the magnesium may boost memory and protect against age-related memory loss, according to the journal Neuron.
What’s more, cashews can help with weight management. Adults who added nuts to their diets or replaced other foods with nuts lost more weight and reduced their waist size by more than half an inch than those whose diets didn’t incorporate nuts, according to a 31-study analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Hale and Hearty Cashews
The American Heart Association recommends four servings of unsalted nuts per week. A serving size is roughly 1.5 ounces of nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. The best ways to eat cashews: raw or dry-roasted. Avoid added calories from cashews (and all nuts) cooked in oil. Also, choose natural cashew butter at the supermarket.
Here are easy ways to enjoy heart-healthy, brain-boosting cashews:
- Add a handful to low fat yogurt, oatmeal or cottage cheese.
- Sprinkle over salad, pasta or stir-fry—like today’s Meatless Monday recipe.
- Mix into a muffin, cookie or bread recipe.
- Spread natural cashew butter on slices of fruit (banana or apple go well) or whole wheat bread.
- Combine with dried fruit, seeds, whole grain cereal or dark chocolate for a trail mix.
Sweet and Nutty Stir-Fry with Cashews
Per Serving: 296 calories, 10.4 grams total fat (1.7 grams saturated fat), 263 mg sodium
- 4 oz., dried whole-grain spaghetti
- 2 tsp., curry powder
- 2 Tbsp., sugar
- 2 Tbsp., low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp., balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp., cornstarch
- ¼ tsp., crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup, fresh orange juice
- 2 tsp., grated orange zest
- 1 tsp., canola oil
- ½ cup, thinly sliced onion
- 2 cups, broccoli florets (about 5 ounces), cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup thinly sliced cabbage
- 1 cup chopped carrots, cut into matchstick-size strips
- 1/2 cup, unsalted cashews, dry-roasted (that is, not cooked in oil)
- Prepare the pasta according to package directions, but omit salt and oil and add curry powder. Drain well in a colander.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, cornstarch, red pepper flakes and orange juice, stirring until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the stove. Stir in the orange zest. Set aside.
- In a large, nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the onion for 1 minute. Stir in the broccoli, cabbage, and carrots. Cook for 4 minutes, or until just tender-crisp, stirring frequently.
- Transfer the pasta to a serving platter. Top with the broccoli mixture. Pour the sauce over all. Sprinkle with the cashews.
Recipe adapted from the American Heart Association.