"The Wise Gardener!"
The Sensual Pulse of the Tropics!

CASHEW FRUIT...Nutritional Powerhouse!

 


 

Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Anacardium
Species: occidentale
Ethnic Names: Cashew, Cashew Apple, Cajueiro, Cashu, Acajoiba, Acajou, Acaju, Cajou, Jocote Maranon, Pomme Cajou
Part Used: Pseudo-Fruit


 

 

DESCRIPTION
Properties/Actions: Nutritive, Tonic
Phytochemicals: Ascorbic-acid, Beta-carotene, Calcium, Hexanal, Iron, Leucocyanidin, Leucopelargonidine, Limonene, Niacin, Phosphorus, Protein, Riboflavin, Salicylic-acid, Thiamin, Trans-hex-2-enal
Cashew is a multi-purpose tree of the Amazon, and is frequently found growing wildly on the drier sandy soils in the central plains of Brazil. It grows up to 15 meters in height and has a thick and tortuous trunk and branches so winding that they frequently reach the ground. The cashew tree produces many resources and products. The bark and leaves of the tree are used medicinally, the cashew nut has international appeal and market value, and even the shell around the nut is used medicinally. Then there is the "cashew fruit". The cashew fruit is very peculiar as it really isn't a fruit at all. Cashew Fruit is actually a swollen peduncle that grows behind the real fruit which yields the cashew nut. This large pulpy and juicy part is a pseudo-fruit with a fine sweet flavor and aroma and the cashew nut grows externally in its own kidney shaped hard shell at the end of this pseudo-fruit or peduncle. This peduncle however, is commonly referred to as "Cashew Fruit" or the Cashew "apple".

Native to the northeast coast of Brazil, cashew was domesticated long before the arrival of Europeans at the end of the fifteenth century. It was "discovered" by Europeans and first recorded in 1578, and from there take to India, then to East Africa where it soon became naturalized. In sixteenth century Brazil, cashew fruits and their juice were taken by Europeans to treat fever, to sweeten breath, and to "cnnserve the stomach". The cashew tree and its nuts and fruit had been used for centuries by the Indigenous Tribes. Indigeous use is well documented. The Tikuna tribe in northwest Amazonia considers the fruit juice to be medicinal against influenza. James Duke reports that the green fruits are used to treat hemoptysis, the fruit juice is used for warts, the Tikunas tribe use the "apple" juice for flu and that the fruit juice contains three antitumor compounds (JAFC 41:1012. 1993.) Cashew fruit contains calcium, phosphorous, iron and vitamin C (ascorbic acid).

The pseudo-fruit is the pulpy part is used. In the form of a juice it has been used as an anti-scorbutic (antiscurvy) due to its high content of vitamin C (up to 20,000 ppm). In cosmetics, it is considered as a rich source of vitamin C, which is the focus of a great deal of research and is indicated as one of the substances capable of capturing free radicals. In addition, the high amount of mineral salts gives cashew fruit skin remineralizing properties. It also has some conditioning activity due to its proteins and mucilage. Besides making great tasting and highly nutrititve snacks and juices, Cashew fruit extracts are also used in body care product. Because of its high amount of vitamin C and mineral salts, cashew fruit is used as coadjutant in the treatment of premature aging of the skin and to remineralize the skin. It is also a good scalp conditioner and tonic, often used in shampoos, lotions and scalp creams.

 

Footnotes:

  • Smith, Nigel, Williams, J., Plucknett, Donald and Talbot, Jennifer. 1992. Tropical Forests and their Crops. Comstock Publishing, NY.
  • Schultes, R., Raffauf, R., 1990, The Healing Forest, Dioscorides Press.
  • Duke, James A., Vasquez, Rodolfo, 1994, Amazonian Ethnobotanical Dictionary, CRC Press.
The above text has been quoted from the book, Herbal Secrets of the Rainforest

 

Also see Cajueiro

 

Clinical References

  • Kubo I, et al. Tyrosinase inhibitors from Anacardium occidentale fruits. J Nat Prod, 1994 Apr
  • de Souza CP, et al. [The use of the shell of the cashew nut, Anacardium occidentale, as an alternative molluscacide] Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo, 1992 Sep-Oct
  • Nagaraja KV. Lipids of high-yielding varieties of cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.). Plant Foods Hum Nutr, 1987
  • de Oliveira F, et al. [Contribution to food microscopy of Anacardium occidentale L, Carica papaya L and Myrciaria cauliflora (Martius) Berg] Rev Farm Bioquim Univ Sao Paulo, 1975 Jul-Dec