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Almond vs Cashew - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Almond
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Cashew

Introduction

Almonds and cashews are classified as nuts that are highly rich in minerals and different vitamins. They are very versatile in the ways that they can be consumed and used in the culinary world. 

Almonds originated in western Asia and minor Asian regions. The almond tree was domesticated since the early bronze age (3000 BC) in that region. They can be used to make flour, milk, spread, and even consumed raw or roasted. 

Cashews are native to the tropics region, Central America, and the Caribbean islands. They are widely used in Asian cuisines mostly in India and China and are consumed roasted. 

Both Almond and Cashew milk are now widely used as an alternative to dairy milk, especially within the vegan community, and lactose intolerant individuals. 

In this article, we will be comparing the nutritional content of each, the health impact, accessibility and storage, and their downsides. 

Nutritional content comparison

Almonds and cashews are similar in their content of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Both are considered to have a high content of proteins and fats, however, relatively, almonds have higher macronutrients per 100 grams. That difference is negligible on the scale of comparison. 

Almonds are relatively richer in their dietary fiber content at 12.5g compared to cashews 3.3g.

The most remarkable aspect of macronutrient composition in both nuts is their amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Both, the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, are considered to be among the healthy fats which are essential to the normal functioning of the body. 

Almonds and cashews have 31.5g and 23.8g of monounsaturated fats respectively, and the recommended daily intake is at <33g. 

In addition to that, almonds and cashews have 12.3g and 7.8g of polyunsaturated fat content respectively, and the daily requirement is at <22g. 

From this data, we can conclude that both almonds and cashews are good sources of healthy fats, and both are rich in protein, dietary fibers, and carbohydrates. Almonds are slightly richer in protein, fats, and dietary fibers, while cashews are richer in carbohydrates. 

Vitamins comparison

Almonds and cashews are rich in their vitamin compositions. However, they don't have similar content when it comes to vitamins. 

Almonds are considered one of the nuts that have the highest content of vitamin B2 (riboflavin). The daily requirement of vitamin B2 is at 1.3mg a day for males and 1.1mg a day for females. As a matter of fact, almonds contain 1.14mg of vitamin B2 per 100g.

Almond is also rich in vitamin E, having 25.6mg, with the daily requirement being 15mg a day. 

Cashews, on the other hand, are considered to be rich in vitamin K at 34.1μg and vitamin B complex, specifically, B1, B6, and B5.  

Minerals comparison

Almonds and cashews are considered to be food sources that contain a high amount of minerals. 

They have similar content of potassium and magnesium with slight differences. 

Almonds are rich in calcium, and manganese, while cashews are richer in iron, copper, zinc, and phosphorus. Cashews are considered to be a good source of iron. 

Health impact

It was always believed that the consumption of almonds and cashews, or nuts in general, contributes to weight gain. However, with research around this subject, it was concluded that this is a false statement. Given that they are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, they are high in calories. In addition to healthy fats, they are rich in vitamins and minerals, which altogether have a bioactive role in healthy digestion and metabolism. (1)

Almonds and cashews have a positive impact on lowering blood cholesterol levels, which in turn results in lowering the risks of coronary heart diseases (CHD) by 20%. If left untreated and unmonitored, this will cause a myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack. Another impact is on the vessels of the body. Consumption of almonds and cashews at least 5 times a week decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). These diseases are related to the heart and blood vessels that increase the risk of blood clots and plaque formation around arteries. (2)

Almonds being rich in calcium help maintain healthy bones. They are considered a good source of calcium in vegan diets, as 1 serving of almonds is equivalent to ¼ cup of dairy milk. (3)

The vitamin E content of almonds acts as an antioxidant protecting the brain tissues from being covered with amyloid plaques, which is the reason for developing Alzheimer’s disease. This contributes to lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Also, almonds have promising results in showing restorative measures after diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease. (4)

Cashews, on the other hand, contain zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthins are yellow-pigmented antioxidants that have a role in protecting the eyes. The zeaxanthins present in cashews, after ingestion, get absorbed by the retina and protects the retina from ultra-violet light. This contributes to the prevention of the disease called, Age-related Macular Degeneration AMD. AMD causes blurring of vision usually while driving or reading, and is that is common after the age of 60. (5)

Daily consumption of cashew in diabetic patients resulted in lowering their total levels of insulin, thus helping to control Diabetes Mellitus. (6)

Accessibility and Storage

The best way to store nuts is to put them in a dark environment. This is because of the photooxidative effect. The healthy fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, can break down and lose their properties if exposed to light for long durations. (7)

Almonds when roasted or processed lose some of their nutritional values. Therefore, the most effective and optimal way to consume these nuts is in their raw state. However, when it comes to cashews, they should be consumed roasted or steamed due to the fact that they contain urushiol which is a toxic compound found in poison ivy. So the processing of cashews makes it free of urushiol.In addition to that, almonds and cashews are being used as alternatives to unhealthy snacks. When it comes to the vegan community and individuals who are lactose intolerant, almond and cashew milk are a good alternative to dairy milk, most specifically almond milk due to their rich content of calcium.

Downsides

In some cultures, both almonds and cashews are consumed with kernels and other nuts which are often roasted and salted. One must be careful when consuming them in their salted processing, as the sodium content of both nuts will be elevated

Almonds and cashews might cause allergic reactions. These reactions can range from low severity, a simple itching of the lips for example. Or can have high severity that will lead to shortness of breath (anaphylaxis) and require medical intervention. 

In some people, consuming high amounts of sweet almonds while taking diabetes medications might cause severe hypoglycemia which means a severe decrease in blood sugar levels.

Almonds and cashews have moderate amounts of oxalate. When high amounts of these nuts are consumed over the long term, risks of kidney stone formation increases. These stones are calcium oxalate stones, which lead to Oxalate Nephropathy (commonly known as kidney stones). (8)

Summary

In summary, Almonds and cashews are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Almonds are rich in vitamin B2, E, calcium and manganese. Cashews are rich in vitamin K, B1, B6, B5, iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus. Overall they are among the healthiest nuts to consume.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5748761/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5762129/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20947104/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2937319/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770730/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6408729/ 
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6400731/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5359106/

Infographic

Almond vs Cashew infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Almond
3
:
5
Cashew
Contains more Calcium +627%
Contains more Potassium +11.1%
Contains less Sodium -91.7%
Contains more Iron +80.1%
Contains more Copper +112.9%
Contains more Zinc +85.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +23.3%
Equal in Potassium - 660
Equal in Magnesium - 292
Contains more Calcium +627%
Contains more Potassium +11.1%
Contains less Sodium -91.7%
Contains more Iron +80.1%
Contains more Copper +112.9%
Contains more Zinc +85.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +23.3%
Equal in Potassium - 660
Equal in Magnesium - 292

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Almond
4
:
5
Cashew
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin E +2747.8%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +1862.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +240.7%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +106.3%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +83.4%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +204.4%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin E +2747.8%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +1862.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +240.7%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +106.3%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +83.4%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +204.4%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

Summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfils human daily needs, the more the summary score is
Vitamin Summary Score
59
Almond
29
Cashew
Mineral Summary Score
96
Almond
128
Cashew

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Protein
127%
Almond
109%
Cashew
Carbohydrates
22%
Almond
30%
Cashew
Fats
230%
Almond
202%
Cashew

Comparison summary table

Pay attention at the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Almond Cashew
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Sugars ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

Which food is preferable in case of diets?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Almond Cashew
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

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Comparison summary

Which food is richer in minerals?
Cashew
Cashew is relatively richer in minerals
Which food contains less Sugars?
Almond
Almond contains less Sugars (difference - 1.56g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Almond
Almond contains less Sodium (difference - 11mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Almond
Almond is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 3.981g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Almond
Almond is lower in glycemic index (difference - 12)
Which food is cheaper?
Almond
Almond is cheaper (difference - $0.1)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be definitely stated which food is richer in vitamins. See charts below for detailed information.

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

In the column "Opinion" we made some assumptions which could be controversial. For instance we are assuming that less saturated fats is good for you. Please ignore this column if you have your own opinion.We marked the nutrients, comparison of which we considered as not meaningful, as "N/A"
Nutrient Almond Cashew Opinion
Calories 579 553 Almond
Protein 21.15 18.22 Almond
Fats 49.93 43.85 Almond
Vitamin C 0 0.5 Cashew
Carbs 21.55 30.19 Cashew
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 3.71 6.68 Cashew
Calcium 269 37 Almond
Potassium 733 660 Almond
Magnesium 270 292 Cashew
Sugars 4.35 5.91 Cashew
Fiber 12.5 3.3 Almond
Copper 1.031 2.195 Cashew
Zinc 3.12 5.78 Cashew
Starch 0.72 23.49 Cashew
Phosphorus 481 593 Cashew
Sodium 1 12 Almond
Vitamin A 2 0 Almond
Vitamin E 25.63 0.9 Almond
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.205 0.423 Cashew
Vitamin B2 1.138 0.058 Almond
Vitamin B3 3.618 1.062 Almond
Vitamin B5 0.471 0.864 Cashew
Vitamin B6 0.137 0.417 Cashew
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 0 34.1 Cashew
Folic acid (B9) 0 0
Trans Fat 0.015 Cashew
Saturated Fat 3.802 7.783 Almond
Monounsaturated Fat 31.551 23.797 Almond
Polyunsaturated fat 12.329 7.845 Almond
Tryptophan 0.211 0.287 Cashew
Threonine 0.601 0.688 Cashew
Isoleucine 0.751 0.789 Cashew
Leucine 1.473 1.472 Almond
Lysine 0.568 0.928 Cashew
Methionine 0.157 0.362 Cashew
Phenylalanine 1.132 0.951 Almond
Valine 0.855 1.094 Cashew
Histidine 0.539 0.456 Almond
Fructose 0.11 0.05 Almond
The main source of information is USDA Food Composition Database (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Dietary Guidelines for Americans is used as the primary source for advice in this web resource
Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.