Do cashews help with depression? (& here’s how)

This blog post answers the question of whether cashews are good for depression. It starts by looking at what depression is, where cashew come from, how they may help with depression, and what are some of the other benefits of cashews. 

Do cashews help with depression?

Yes, cashews do help with depression. They are natural moon shaped antidepressants. Cashews contain mood-stabilizing vitamins: B6, magnesium, niacin, and even tryptophan. Some people even go up to saying, “Two handfuls of cashews each day may keep depression at bay.”

What do you mean by depression?

Depression is a persistent and pervasive mood related disorder, that affects the behavioural as well as affective mechanisms within an individual and causes disturbances in their personal, social or occupational life. It is characterised by feelings of sadness or dark mood, with sleep, appetite and weight related changes, along with pervasive feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, low self-esteem and excessive guilt. 

Depression is often seen along with anhedonia, which is a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and social isolation which follows from feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem.these symptoms are persistent for over a 2 week period, and cause hindrance in the functioning of the individual’s life. 

Signs of depression:

  • Sadness, or irritability
  •  Dark mood
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Weight changes
  • Appetite disturbances
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Social isolation or withdrawal
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Suicidal thoughts of ideation
  • Lack of energy, loss of libido

The chemical in our body most closely related to depression is serotonin. It is when serotonin decreases, that people experience the symptoms of depression. 

Where do cashews come from?

Cashews grow on the cashew tree, which is known for its pink flowers and large leaves. They may grow upto 20-30 feet in height. However, mutations of dwarf trees are grown nowadays to bear fruit more quickly. 

These trees are formally known as Anacardium occidentale, and are originally from tropical regions of Brazil. Cashew apples grow on this tree, from the bottom of which cashews sprout. The cashew nut is thus actually a seek of this pear shaped fruit. 

Cashews are sold without the shell because the shell is poisonous in its natural state. But even the shell has other beneficial uses: the acidic elements of the cashew nut shells are harvested as natural medicines for conditions like diabetes and tooth decay. Today, cashew trees are grown in other tropical regions throughout Africa, India, and Vietnam.

Why are cashews good for depression?

As discussed above, Serotonin is the chemical responsible for maintaining mood balance, so depression is often the result of reduced levels of serotonin and the amino acid required to produce serotonin, is called tryptophan.

Cashews contain mood stabilizing vitamins like B6, magnesium, tryptophan and niacin. They are naturally occurring antidepressants. B6 is used to help convert the tryptophan into serotonin, and helps magnesium enter into the body’s cells. 

It’s the synergy of these nutrients that helps with depression; researchers claim that if you eat two or more handfuls of cashews per day, you will get enough tryptophan to alter and elevate your mood.

Other benefits of cashews:

Aside from being natural antidepressants, cashews are packed with good nutrients that benefit the following parts of out body:

  • The heart

They are low in cholesterol and contain antioxidants and a common monounsaturated fat (oleic acid). This helps in regulating boyd’s cholesterol and increasing heart health

  • Weight loss

Eating cashews even twice a week can help slow weight gain. Nuts contain high calories which give you a feeling of fullness and satiety for longer and help in reducing over eating. 

  • Blood pressure

Cashews contain magnesium, which helps lower your blood pressure and prevent hypertension. One study shows that those who consume 368 milligrams (mg) of magnesium per day for an average of three months had overall reductions in systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.

  • Gum and teeth

Cashews consist of copper as well as magnesium which helps in maintenance and development of skin, bones, organs and connective tissues.

  • Disease prevention

Cashews are rich in antioxidants that fight off diseases like cancer. Further, cashews are also  vitamins like riboflavin, pantothenic acid, thiamin, and niacin that help prevent medical conditions like sideroblastic anemia and pellagra.

Conclusion

In this blog we discussed whether cashews are good for depression or  not. We began by looking at what depression really is, where cashews come from, how they are helpful in depression, and what are some of the other benefits of cashews.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Do cashews help with depression?

Do cashews make you happy?

Cashews are high in tryptophan, which help in increasing the  level of feel good neurotransmitter- serotonin. It can thus in fact make you happy.

What nuts help depression?

Cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts are all good in helping our mind fight with depression.

Is almond good for depression?

A study proved that a mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 gram of mixed nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds daily significantly helped in reducing depression. 

Which fruit is good for depression?

The fruits that are good for depression include carrots, dark leafy greens like lettuce, cucumber, spinach, apples, banana, citrus fruits, grapefruit, kiwifruit and fresh berries. These were associated with  better mental health and fewer symptoms of depression. 

What food helps anxiety?

The list of foods that help reduce anxiety include brazil nuts, fatty fish, eggs, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, turmeric, chamomile, and yogurt. 

What are the side effects of eating cashews daily?

Eating cashews daily in moderation has no side effects and is in fact very good for you. 

References

[1]. How to not go nuts by eating nuts: cashews for depression, anxiety, and general health (n.d.). Hospitality Health ER. 

[2]. 5 foods that fight the symptoms of depression.(n.d.) Thatcleanlife. 

[3]. Kissam B., (2019) Are Cashews good for depression and anxiety? Warrior made. 

[4]. Consumption of cashew nuts can relieve depression, here are its benefits. (2020) Onlymyhealth. 

[5]. How cashew nuts help fight depression and anxiety (n.d.) Psychology and I.  

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.

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