Cashews and Depression (Is there a connection)

In this blog post, we will understand the association between cashews and depression. We will see if this association extends to anxiety be

fore outlining for what else cashews are good. Finally, we will see what other foods are good for our mental health.

Cashews stem from cashew trees, originating from Brazil’s tropical areas, and are famous for massive leaves and pink flowers. These days, the trees are harvested in other regions, too, including India, Africa, and Vietnam. Cashew trees are quite humongous. However, nowadays, dwarf trees are cultivated as they bear fruit more rapidly. Cashews are the seeds of a fruit known as cashew apple, which carries a remarkable resemblance to pears.

Cashews are marketed without their shells, as these casings are known to be hazardous in their organic state. However, the covers have beneficial sides; their acidic aspects are used as an organic medication for various diseases, including diabetes and dental cavities. 

Cashews and Depression

In the past, several people have claimed that eating a few cashews is the same as a dose of Prozac, a commonly prescribed antidepressant. They added that big medical companies had suppressed these findings to make profits on their drugs. They noted that it contains up to 2000 milligrams of tryptophan, which is enough to improve your mood. 

This claim is somewhat risky as it does not stem from a clinically registered trial or a scientific study. The proponent of such claims is a nutritionist and not a mental health professional. 

There is a common misconception that tryptophan can substitute an antidepressant. Tryptophan utilizes the same passage as other amino acids and has to fight them to permeate the blood-brain barrier. It is the least prevalent amino acid. 

The only definite means of increasing tryptophan is through dietary supplements. When it is consumed in its pure form, it functions differently than when taken through natural foods. The amount of tryptophan is large enough to fight with other amino acids, and a lot of it enters the brain.

The claims were dangerous as a sudden termination of taking antidepressants is associated with severe somatic and psychological repercussions. There could be withdrawal (or discontinuation syndrome as antidepressants are non-addictive) symptoms, which have been noted in abrupt cessation of certain antidepressants like SSRIs, SNRIs, MAOIs, and TCAs.  

Sudden shifts from active antidepressants to placebo have been proven to evoke discontinuation syndrome.  

Cashews are rich in specific properties that can elevate your mood but are not therapeutically equal to a dose of Prozac as there is no scientific study to support this claim. Let us understand what the benefits of cashews are concerning uplifting your mood.  

Cashews contain many vitamins that help in stabilizing our moods, namely:

  • Vitamin B6; 
  • Magnesium; 
  • Niacin; 
  • Tryptophan; and
  • Healthy Fats  

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 also aids in the uptake of serotonin. It can help in evoking a sense of relaxation and improves our overall brain health. Other sources of vitamin B6 include pumpkin, sweet potato, avocado, banana, chia, and green vegetables. Vitamin B6 is also useful for converting tryptophan into serotonin and also aids magnesium to permeate the cells in our bodies.

 

Magnesium

Cashews are an excellent source of magnesium, which is vital for boosting our mood and improving our nervous system. It could help in alleviating some anxiety and depressive symptoms. It is also useful for maintaining our blood sugar levels.

Tryptophan 

Cashews are a great source of tryptophan, which is essential for the absorption of serotonin. Even if not directly implicated in treating depression, it does have specific benefits for our mental health. Researchers have reported that tryptophan can positively impact social behavior, such as reducing irritability, hostility, and tendencies to quarrel.   

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is important for maintaining a balance in our moods. Depression often results from a decrease in serotonin levels. Tryptophan, the amino acid responsible for producing serotonin, is also reduced in people with depression. 

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are essential for maintaining good health and a balanced mood. Even though a low-fat diet is recommended for people with cardiovascular issues, a decent amount of healthy fats is vital for your physical and mental health. This benefit is particularly true of mono-unsaturated fats found in seeds and nuts. Cashews are an excellent source of such fats.

Cashews and Anxiety

As described for depression, cashews are enriched with tryptophan, magnesium, vitamin B6, and other vitamins that help improve your overall psychological well-being. Although it may not substitute for anti-anxiety medications, it can help with boosting our health in general. 

For What Else Are Cashews Useful?

We have understood that cashews are useful for maintaining overall mental and physical well-being. As they are packed with essential minerals, vitamins, and healthy fats, they are beneficial for many of our organs.

Cardiovascular Health

Cashews are low in cholesterol and are enriched with essential antioxidants and oleic acid. Oleic acid is a monosaturated fat (also known as a healthy fat). It is related to reduced levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is excellent for maintaining the health of your heart. 

Weight Loss

Cashews are fantastic for incorporating into your diet if you are looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle or lose weight. As mentioned earlier, they contain healthy fats and are excellent replacements for unhealthy snacks and junk food. Even though cashews come with the same amount of calories and fats, it contains monosaturated fats, and so it helps in weight management.  

Nuts, in general, are also rich in protein and entail low carbohydrates, which aids in weight management.

Blood Pressure

As cashews are rich in magnesium, they can manage hypertension by lowering your blood pressure. 

Gallbladder

One study shows that apart from maintaining cardiovascular health, cashews are great for the prevention of gallstones. 

Oral and Dental Health

Cashews are enriched with copper and magnesium, both of which are excellent for oral and dental health. 

Disease Prevention 

The antioxidants in cashews are fantastic for combating toxins. It has the potential for the prevention of relapse of colon cancer. They are also packed with vital vitamins, such as thiamine, pantothenic acid, niacin, and riboflavin, which aid in the prevention of several medical conditions. They are also rich in vitamins like riboflavin, pantothenic acid, thiamin, and niacin that help prevent medical conditions like a type of anemia and a disease associated with inadequate niacin known as pellagra.

Other Foods that Are Good for Mental Health

Other foods that are good for mental health 

Avocado

Avocado is a superfood and is packed with tryptophan, vitamin B9, and omega-3, which is a vital fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties and is essential for maintaining brain health as it helps manage neurotransmitters.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is also an incredible source of Vitamin B6, which is vital for maintaining psychological health. Reduced vitamin B6 levels are related to depressive symptoms, making it necessary to replenish it. You can incorporate sweet potato in various dishes. It is incredibly versatile and can be steamed, baked, and even pan-fried.

Berries

We can often feel worn out and exhausted after a typical day. Diet habits that lead to high inflammation may be linked to depressive symptoms. Berries are known for the anti-inflammatory properties due to abundant polyphenol levels, which help in the recovery of our bodies. 

Spinach

Spinach is a superfood rich in tryptophan and vitamin B9 or folate, which is essential for metabolizing amino acids and increasing serotonin. As seen before, tryptophan aids in increasing serotonin levels. It can be used in salads, as toppings, in sandwiches, among other dishes. 

Conclusion

In this blog post, we understood the association between cashews and depression. We then saw how this association extended to anxiety before outlining what else for which cashews are good. Finally, we saw what other foods are good for our mental health.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions: Cashews and Depression

Can cashews cure depression?

No, cashews cannot cure depression, but they contain several vitamins essential for maintaining mood stability, such as tryptophan, vitamin B6, niacin, and magnesium. 

Which nuts are beneficial for depression?

All nuts are beneficial for maintaining mental health, including cashews, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, and walnuts, which are packed with omega-3 fats.

Can cashews make you happy?

Cashews are good for stabilizing one’s mood, and it could help boost your mood because of the presence of tryptophan, which helps increase serotonin levels.

How can cashews be harmful to you?

Cashews have relatively high oxalate content, which in large amounts can cause damage to your kidneys and other chronic conditions. Raw cashews are less safe than roasted ones.

What are the fruits and vegetables useful for depression?

Some of the fruits and vegetables that are good for mental health in general, and not specifically depression, include:

Apples
Berries
Grapefruit
Bananas
Kiwi
Citrus fruits
Carrots
Lettuce
Spinach
Cucumber 

Is milk useful for treating depression?

Although milk cannot treat depression, skim milk, low-fat cheese, and other dairy products contain minerals and vitamins like calcium, protein, and vitamin D, which are useful for physical and mental well-being. 

What are the harmful effects of eating cashews?

Cashews are generally safe even though they contain fat as these fats are monosaturated fats, which are suitable for your health in moderate use. However, raw cashews are deemed unsafe as they contain urushiol, which is commonly found in poison ivy. It is toxic and can cause skin irritation, like redness and blisters, in some people. 

What could happen if you consume cashews every day?

As long as you eat only 3 to 4 cashews a day, there is no adverse effect. It is suitable for your health as it is a source of healthy fats and decreases LDL cholesterol.

What is the maximum amount of cashews I can consume in a day?

Although cashews are beneficial for your health, not more than 4-5 a day are supposed to be consumed, leading to weight gain.

Which nuts are bad for losing weight?

Pecans and macadamia nuts are deemed harmful for weight loss as they have high calories and fats, and are low on protein. 

Which nuts are the most nutritious?

Following is a list of nuts that are the most nutritious:

Pistachios
Macadamia nuts
Hazelnuts
Almonds
Cashews
Brazil nuts
Walnuts
Pecans 

Do cashews have anti-inflammatory properties?

Yes, cashews have anti-inflammatory properties. Some nuts and seeds that are excellent for combatting inflammation include almonds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.

Is caffeine beneficial for depression?

An observational study suggested an association between caffeine and reduced symptoms of depression. Another study postulated a link between drinking coffee and not other beverages with caffeine and depression.

Which foods are good for boosting your mood?

Several foods are good for boosting your mood, including:

Mushroom
Quinoa
Dark chocolate
Mushroom
Grapes
Foods rich in folic acid
Probiotic foods

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/cashews-equivalent-to-a-dose-of-prozac/
https://hher24.com/cashews-and-depression/

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/abigail-keeso/5-foods-that-fight-symptoms-of-depression_b_9190300.html

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