Cashews vs almonds – which nut is healthier?
Despite both being a type of nut, almonds and cashews have a very different appearance, as can be seen from the image above. Almonds have a rough brown outer shell and a smooth white interior, whereas cashews have a smooth cream coloured texture throughout. Cashews and almonds also have very distinct flavours when compared to one another.
When it comes to their nutritional profiles, they have many similarities and also quite a few notable differences, which we will discuss below. To compare their nutritional profiles side by side, you can also use our healthy food finder tool.
Nuts contain far more fat than most other foods, which means they are also very energy dense. These two nuts have a similar number of calories; a 1 ounce (28 g) serving of cashews has 155 calories, whilst almonds have 161. If you are trying to lose weight, you may be concerned about including cashews and almonds in your diet, however studies have shown that nuts may in fact prove to be beneficial for weight loss if eaten in moderate quantities.
Almonds contain slightly more fat than cashews do, with a 28 g serving of almonds having 13.8 g of fat and a 28 g serving of cashews having 12.3 g of fat. In both cases, the majority of this fat is monounsaturated, which is considered to be the good kind. Studies have found that monounsaturated fat can bring about many health benefits such as improved heart health and a reduced risk of certain types of cancer.
Nuts are a very good source of plant based protein. A 1 ounce serving of almonds has 5.9 g of protein, whereas the same serving size of cashews has 5.1 g. Even though these nuts are not complete protein sources, including them in your diet together with other protein rich foods is a good idea because doing so ensures that you are getting adequate quantities of all 9 essential amino acids. Eating enough protein helps with blood sugar level stabilisation, weight management and the repair of muscle tissue.
What makes almonds and cashews that much more impressive is that they are also a good source of carbohydrate, meaning they provide all 3 macro-nutrients. However, these two nuts do differ quite a bit in the quantity and type of carbohydrate they contain. A 1 ounce serving of almonds has 6.1 g of carbohydrate, more than half of which is in the form of dietary fiber. On the other hand, a 1 ounce serving of cashews has 9.2 g of carbohydrate, 70% of which is in the form of starch.
Vitamins and minerals
Like is the case with other nuts, almonds and cashews are a potent source of numerous vitamins and minerals. Both nuts contain magnesium, potassium, iron, phosphorus and zinc in similar amounts. That said, almonds are superior to cashews when it comes to vitamin E and calcium. A 1 ounce serving of almonds will provide you with around a third of your daily requirement of vitamin E and 7% of your daily requirement of calcium, whereas cashews only provide you with around 1% of your daily requirement of each.
The health benefits of almonds
Besides vitamins and minerals, almonds are also loaded with antioxidants. Most of these antioxidants are concentrated in their brown outer skin, which means that almonds that have their skin left on are generally the better choice.
Antioxidants help to counteract the damage caused by free radicals in the body, which in turn reduces the risk of many life threatening diseases. For example, this study carried out on male smokers found that almond consumption reduced oxidative stress biomarkers by up to 34% over a period of 4 weeks.
Almonds come in second position in our list of vitamin E foods, just after sunflower seeds. This is great news because Vitamin E intake has been linked with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies have also shown that almond consumption can help with blood sugar control, thanks to the protein, fiber and magnesium they contain, making almonds the perfect snack choice for diabetics.
Finally, almonds may help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduce hunger and assist with weight loss.
The health benefits of cashews
Cashews are arguably one of the best tasting nuts out there, with a buttery, sweet and salty flavour. They have become increasingly popular over recent years, being used to prepare alternatives to dairy foods such as cheese and milk.
Cashews have many health benefits that are similar to almonds, including improved heart and brain health, cancer prevention, weight management and a lowered risk of diabetes.
Additionally, cashew nut consumption may help maintain bone health as well as reduce the duration and occurrence of headaches.
Both cashews and almonds are nutrient dense nuts that bring with them many health benefits, and whilst almonds do have a slight edge, it is difficult to crown one as being a healthier choice than the other. If it were up to us, we would recommend that you include both nuts in your diet, so as to reap the most benefit.