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10 Nutrition and Health Benefits of Cashew Milk

Health + Wellness
Tzogia Kappatou / iStock / Getty Images

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Cashew milk is a popular nondairy beverage made from whole cashews and water.


It has a creamy, rich consistency and is loaded with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and other beneficial plant compounds.

Available in unsweetened and sweetened varieties, cashew milk can replace cow's milk in most recipes.

It may boost immunity and improve heart, eye and skin health.

Here are 10 nutrition and health benefits of cashew milk.

1. Loaded With Nutrients

Cashew milk contains healthy fats, protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals.

Most of the fat in this highly nutritious beverage comes from unsaturated fatty acids that boost heart health and offer other benefits (1, 2).

Store-bought varieties may have different amounts of nutrients than homemade versions.

Here's a comparison of 1 cup (240 ml) of homemade cashew milk—made from water and 1 ounce (28 grams) of cashews—to 1 cup (240 ml) of unsweetened, commercial cashew milk (3).

*indicates a nutrient that has been added through fortification.

Commercial cashew milks are typically fortified with vitamins and minerals and have higher amounts of some nutrients, compared to homemade versions.However, they generally provide less fat and protein and don't include fiber.

In addition, store-bought varieties may contain oils, preservatives, and added sugars.

Homemade cashew milks don't need to be strained, which increases their fiber content.

They're also packed with magnesium—a vital mineral for many body processes, including nerve function, heart health, and blood pressure regulation (4).

All cashew milks are naturally lactose-free and can replace cow's milk for those who have trouble digesting dairy.

Homemade versions have less protein, calcium and potassium than cow's milk but more healthy unsaturated fats, iron and magnesium (5).

Summary

Cashew milk is loaded with nutrients, including unsaturated fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Homemade varieties are usually more nutritious, though store-bought types may be fortified with vitamin D and calcium.

2. May Boost Heart Health

Studies have linked cashew milk to a lower risk of heart disease.

This plant-based drink is rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Consuming these fats in place of less healthy ones may decrease your risk of heart disease (6).

Cashew milk also contains potassium and magnesium—two nutrients that may boost heart health and prevent heart disease.

In a review of 22 studies, people with the highest potassium intake had a 24% lower risk of stroke (7).

Another review concluded that high magnesium intake, as well as high blood levels of this mineral, decreased heart disease risk factors, including diabetes and high blood pressure (8).

However, store-bought cashew milk tends to be lower in heart-healthy unsaturated fats, as well as potassium and magnesium, than homemade varieties.

Summary

Cashew milk contains heart-healthy unsaturated fats, potassium and magnesium—all of which may help prevent heart disease.

3. Good for Eye Health

Cashews are rich in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin (9).

These compounds may prevent cellular damage to your eyes caused by unstable molecules called free radicals (10).

One study found a significant association between low blood levels of lutein and zeaxanthin and poor retinal health (11).

Eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that causes vision loss.

Another study showed that people with the highest intake of lutein and zeaxanthin—and the highest predicted blood levels of these antioxidants—were 40% less likely to develop advanced AMD (12).

High blood levels of lutein and zeaxanthin have also been linked to a 40% lower risk of age-related cataracts in older adults (13).

Since cashews are a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, adding cashew milk to your diet may help prevent eye issues.

Summary

Cashew milk contains antioxidants that may lower your risk of retinal damage, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts.

4. May Aid Blood Clotting

Cashew milk is rich in vitamin K, which is vital for blood clotting (14, 15, 16).

Not getting enough vitamin K can result in excessive bleeding.

While vitamin K deficiency in healthy adults is very rare, people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other malabsorption issues are more likely to be deficient (16, 17).

Consuming foods rich in vitamin K, such as cashew milk, can help maintain sufficient levels of this protein.

However, an increased dietary vitamin K intake may decrease the effectiveness of blood-thinning medications (18).

If you're taking blood-thinning medications, consult your healthcare provider before making changes to your diet.

Summary

Cashew milk is rich in vitamin K, a nutrient vital to blood clotting. Thus, it may help you maintain adequate levels. If you're on blood-thinning medications, consult with your healthcare provider before increasing your intake of vitamin-K-rich foods.

5. May Improve Blood Sugar Control

Drinking cashew milk may help with blood sugar control—especially in people with diabetes.

Cashews contain compounds that may promote proper blood sugar control in your body.

One study found that a compound in cashews called anacardic acid stimulated the uptake of circulating blood sugar in rat muscle cells (19).

Research on a similar nut also containing anacardic acid found that extracts from the nut's milk significantly decreased blood sugar levels in rats with type 2 diabetes (20).

In addition, cashew milk is lactose-free and therefore has fewer carbs than dairy. Using it in place of cow's milk may help with blood sugar control in those with diabetes.

Still, more research is needed to better understand the benefits of cashew milk in managing diabetes.

Summary

Certain compounds in cashew milk may help with blood sugar control in people with diabetes, but more research is needed.

6. Good for Your Skin

Cashews are loaded with copper (3).

Therefore, milk derived from these nuts—especially the homemade kind—is rich in this mineral as well.

Copper plays a large role in the creation of skin proteins and is important for optimal skin health (21).

This mineral regulates the production of collagen and elastin, two proteins that contribute to skin elasticity and strength (22).

Maintaining optimal levels of collagen in your body promotes skin health, while inadequate collagen can lead to skin aging.

Consuming cashew milk and other copper-rich foods may boost your body's natural production of collagen and keep your skin looking healthy and young.

Summary

Since cashew milk is high in copper, it may improve skin health by boosting collagen production in your body.

7. May Have Anticancer Effects

Test-tube studies suggest that compounds in cashew milk may prevent the development of certain cancer cells.

Cashews are particularly high in anacardic acid, a compound that may fight free radicals that are thought to play a role in cancer development (23, 24, 25).

One test-tube study found that anacardic acid stopped the spread of human breast cancer cells (26).

Another showed that anacardic acid enhanced the activity of an anticancer drug against human skin cancer cells (27).

Consuming cashew milk can provide your body with anacardic acid that may help prevent the growth of cancer cells.

However, current research is limited to test-tube studies. More studies—especially in humans—are needed to better understand the potential anticancer properties of cashews.

Summary

Anacardic acid found in cashews has been shown to stop the spread of certain cancer cells and enhance the effects of anticancer medications in test-tube studies. Still, more research in this area is needed.

8. Boosts Immune Health

Cashews and milk derived from them are loaded with antioxidants and zinc (3).

This may help boost immunity.

Studies show that nuts may decrease the inflammatory response in your body and improve immunity, likely because they're an excellent source of antioxidants and other compounds that fight inflammation and disease (28, 29, 30).

In addition, your body uses zinc to create immune cells that help fight disease and infection. This mineral may also act as an antioxidant that can stop cell damage involved in inflammation and disease (31, 32).

One study associated low blood levels of zinc with increased levels of inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) (33).

The zinc in cashew milk may help decrease inflammation in your body and improve immunity.

Summary

Cashew milk contains compounds like antioxidants and zinc that may fight inflammation and boost immunity.

9. May Improve Iron-Deficiency Anemia

When your body doesn't get enough iron, it can't produce adequate amounts of the protein hemoglobin that helps red blood cells carry oxygen. This results in anemia and leads to fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, cold hands or feet, and other symptoms (34).

One study found that women with low iron intake were roughly six times more likely to develop anemia than those with adequate iron consumption (35).

Therefore, getting enough iron from your diet is important for preventing or improving symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia.

Since cashew milk is high in iron, it may help you maintain adequate levels. However, your body better absorbs this type of iron when consumed with a source of vitamin C (36).

To increase your absorption of iron from cashew milk, try blending it in a smoothie with fresh strawberries or oranges that contain vitamin C.

Summary

Cashew milk is loaded with iron and may prevent iron-deficiency anemia. To increase your absorption of iron from this nondairy milk, consume it with a source of vitamin C.

10. Easily Added to Your Diet

Cashew milk is a versatile and healthy addition to your diet.

Since it's free of lactose, it's suitable for those who avoid dairy.

It can be used in place of cow's milk in most recipes—including smoothies, baked goods and cold or hot cereals. You can also add it to sauces to make them creamier or even use it to make ice cream.

What's more, since cashew milk has a rich, creamy texture, it tastes delicious in coffee drinks, hot chocolate or tea.

Keep in mind that even though it can be substituted for cow's milk, cashew milk has a nuttier, sweeter taste.

If you're interested in adding cashew milk to your diet, you can purchase it at most stores or make your own. Look for unsweetened varieties that don't contain unnecessary ingredients.

Summary

You can add cashew milk to smoothies, coffee drinks, cereals, baked goods and many recipes. It's available at most stores or you can make it at home.

How to Make Cashew Milk

Making cashew milk is incredibly easy.

Plus, the homemade version is more concentrated and thus contains more nutrients than commercial varieties.

You can also control how much sugar and other ingredients you add.

To make cashew milk, soak 1 cup (130 grams) of cashews in very hot water for 15 minutes or in room temperature water for 1–2 hours or longer.

Drain and rinse the cashews, then add them to a blender with 3–4 cups (720–960 ml) of water. Blend on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until smooth and frothy.

You can add dates, honey or maple syrup to sweeten, if desired. Other popular additions include sea salt, cocoa powder, or vanilla extract.

Unlike most other plant-based milks, you don't have to strain cashew milk through a thin towel or cheesecloth.

You can keep your cashew milk in a glass jar or container in the fridge for up to three to four days. If it separates, simply shake before use.

Summary

Making cashew milk is incredibly easy. Blend 1 cup (130 grams) of soaked cashews, 3–4 cups (720–960 ml) of water, and a sweetener of choice until smooth.

The Bottom Line

Made from whole cashews and water, cashew milk is lactose-free and loaded with heart-healthy unsaturated fats, protein and several vitamins and minerals.

Drinking this type of milk may boost heart health, improve blood sugar control, promote eye health and more.

To add cashew milk to your diet, you can make your own or find commercially prepared products at most stores.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

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