They’re one of the world’s favourite snacks, but cashews have a surprising number of benefits other than their ease to munch on. In fact eating cashews before bed could ease anxiety and help you fall asleep, and that’s directly down to the nutrients contained within them.
Here, we’ll explain why, alongwith the other amazing benefits cashews have for your overall health.
Cashews before bed: The surprising sleep aid
Native to South America but cultivated around the world for centuries, cashews are eaten as a snack, in recipes (like curries), and even in cashew butter.
They’re packed with nutrients too, many of which can effect sleep duration and quality.
Cashews are rich in tryptophan – an essential amino acid that we don’t produce naturally, and which we must obtain through diet. Supplementing with this amino acid appears to decrease time it takes to fall asleep. That’s because tryptophan helps your body produce serotonin – a hormone that helps with our mood, well-being and happiness. Serotonin also has a role to play in inducing sleep, and is needed in order for the body to produce melatonin – a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Therefore eating cashews before bed can directly help in the production of melatonin.
In fact individuals who are struggling to sleep, or have been diagnosed with insomnia, are often prescribed melatonin. As such the consumption of cashews can naturally up your levels of this crucial sleep hormone.
It doesn’t end there either. An ounce of cashews contains around 20% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium. Why’s that important? Well supplementing with magnesium has been shown to help relieve symptoms of insomnia such as sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset. It’s also been shown to reduce anxiety – one of the leading causes of insomnia.
However there are a couple of caveats. Cashews are high in fat and therefore calories, and so eating too many before bed over a prolonged period may result in weight gain. Some individuals are also allergic to cashews, so take care if introducing cashews into your diet for the first time.
Eating cashews before bed could help sleep quality and onset due to the presence of tryptophan – which helps the body produce serotonin and melatonin – and nutrients like magnesium. All of which have been shown to have an effect on sleep quality.
cashews before bed: Any other HEALTH benefits?
This remarkable food is also an anti-inflammatory, and is loaded with antioxidants. Both are crucial to keeping your health in check, and can even reverse damage done to your body.
One study concluded that cashews counteract inflammation in the body, whilst another – albeit in an animal study – showed that cashews were able to reduce inflammation in the intestine. Furthermore, a huge study involving over 5000 people also came to the conclusion that a diet rich in nuts – like cashews and almonds – had the potential to reduce chronic inflammation.
That’s important because many major diseases like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are often linked to chronic inflammation. Therefore incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet – like cashews or Kiwi – is a no-brainer.
Cashews are also a great source of antioxidants – particularly polyphenols and carotenoids. That’s important as antioxidants appear to have a direct effect on sleep quality, as they support the immune system and help promote restfulness at night.
Antioxidant foods also help protect your body and can even reverse damage that has been done by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress comes about when there’s an imbalance between free radical molecules (which can cause harm) and antioxidants – that imbalance then causes illness and tissue damage. The result can be the development of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and many others. Therefore eating antioxidant foods – like cashews or garlic – should be a priority.
The science has been backed up too. A diet high in cashews has been shown to have an antioxidant effect that is protective against coronary heart disease, whilst another study concluded that cashews’ antioxidant properties exhibit significant potential health benefits.
Cashews have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Because of that, several studies have shown cashews to have a positive effect on health, boost immune system and protect against disease.
Cashews for sleep: Incorporating them into your diet
Cashews are tasty, relatively cheap and can be found around the world. They can also be eaten in their natural form, and so are easy to incorporate into your diet.
There are many other ways to incorporate cashews into your diet too. You can use them as a topping for porridge, yoghurt or muesli, baked into deserts, or even cooked in curry. You can also chop them up and add in a stir fry or noodles to add some ‘crunch’ to your meal.
For sleep benefits, a small handful one or two hours before bedtime will suffice.
Cashews before bed: Any side effects?
If you don’t have a cashew allergy then moderate consumption of cashews shouldn’t cause any side effects. However, eating too many cashews could make you feel bloated and gassy. Cashews are also high in oxalate – too much of this molecule can cause kidney stones – so eating cashews in excess could cause kidney problems.
As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor if undertaking a diet change, or if you have concerns about how a specific food may interact with any preexisting conditions or medicines.