Cashew Butter: History, Flavor, Benefits, Uses

Cashew butter is made from the kidney-shaped cashew nut. The cashew nut is a tree nut from Brazil that was discovered by Europeans in the 16th century. At first, the Portuguese who had ventured to Brazil thought the nut to be inedible because of its toxic properties. The shell of the cashew nut contains a chemical that irritates the skin. Local native American tribes showed them how to safely process it.

Cashews were brought back to Europe and from there were sent to Asia and Africa. The Portuguese took cashew nuts to their colony in Goa, India. The nuts quickly became a popular staple, and the Indian climate was ideal for the cultivation of cashew trees. In Europe, both the seeds and the fruit were used. The seeds were eaten directly, and the fruit was used for making wine.

Cashews became popular in the US at the start of the 20th century. Early mentions of cashew butter occur in advertisements from the late 19th century. It may have been a product of the period when John Harvey Kellogg’s nut butters were a popular fad. It showed up in cookbooks throughout the 20th century and has recently become a popular alternative nut butter.

Cashew butter flavor profile

Roasted cashew butter’s flavor is best described as subtly nutty with a slight sweetness. The raw version lacks nuttiness, so its flavor profile is closer to neutral. Both kinds of cashew butter have similar creamy textures to peanut butter.

Health benefits of cashew butter

Cashew butter has a strong reputation for its health benefits, which come from nutrients like:

  • Vitamins: You can get some of your daily vitamin requirements from cashew butter as it contains B vitamins like thiamin and pyridoxine as well as folate.
  • Minerals: Cashews are renowned for their magnesium content, which is among the highest of all tree nuts. You can also get iron and potassium from cashew butter.
  • Healthy fats: Cashew butter does contain less fat than other nut butters, but it is a good source of monounsaturated fats.
  • Protein: Cashew butter is a good source of essential amino acids. You can get much of your daily protein requirement from a serving of cashew butter.

If cashew butter is a regular part of your diet, you may be able to treat or prevent health problems like:

  • Gallstones: Nut butters like cashew butter can help to reduce your risk of gallstone problems.
  • Poor bone health: The magnesium and other minerals in cashew butter can help to make your bones stronger, which means that you can use it to treat osteoporosis.
  • Diabetes: Cashew butter is believed to help with blood sugar regulation, which means it may be useful for diabetes prevention.

Health concerns

Salted cashew butter can contain significant amounts of sodium, which can cause or exacerbate high blood pressure and related health issues. While relatively low in fat, cashew butter still contains a significant amount of it. Some of the fat in cashew butter is the unhealthy saturated kind. Unhealthy fats can increase your blood cholesterol and contribute to heart disease.

Common uses

The easiest way to use cashew butter is as a spread for toast, bagels, or crackers just like peanut butter. Alternatively, you can use it in your oatmeal or smoothies as a vegan protein source. It works in salad dressings as and as a peanut butter substitute in the sauce for satays. You can also use it in baked goods like cookies and muffins.