The cashew nuts actually is a tree in the family Anacardiaceae that generates a seed that is harvested as the cashew nut. Its English name derives from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree, caju, it is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew apples and nuts. The cashew fruit or cashew apple is one of the very rare fruits with seeds on the outside of the fruit. It has a very strong, intense, and exclusive smell that can be detected even in perspiration and urination.
The Cashew fruit is soft with a “flimsy” skin, therefore, it is not widely distributed but the nuts are removed in its place and sold commercially. This fruit tastes somewhat sweetish-pungent/astringent. If you ever do come across a cashew fruit, never try to take out the nut from the fruit as it has a chemical “Urushiol” that can reason of minor irritation/rash to the skin. The laborious cleaning process makes cashew nuts to be one of the most pricey of all nuts.
The cashew nut is a well-liked snack and food source. Cashews, unlike other oily tree nuts, contain starch for about 10% of their weight. The brown seed actually is the ‘cashew nut’. Normally the nut is separated from the rest of the fruit and the fruit itself is discarded. The nuts are then sun-dried and sold out. Cashew fruit’s outer skin gets charred and gives a distinct smokey flavor to the cashew nuts.
This is more effective than other nuts in thickening water-based dishes like soups, meat stews, and some Indian milk-based desserts. Several Southeast Asian and South Asian cuisines use cashews for this remarkable characteristic, rather than other nuts. The cashew nut shell is toxic, that is why the shell is removed before it is sold to consumers. Cashew fruit’s nutrition facts have a very high vitamin C content, called to be 5x more than an orange.
It has more than a few B vitamins and is rich in manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. Cashew nuts can lead to complications or allergic reactions, and contains gastric and intestinal soluble oxalates, albeit less than some other tree nuts; people with a tendency to form kidney stones may need moderation and medical guidance
Cashew nuts are produced in tropical countries because the tree is very frost sensitive; they have been adapted to various climatic regions around the world between the latitudes of 25°N and 25°S. Asian countries became the largest producer of cashew fruits. African countries were major producers in the 1980s. India, Vietnam, and Nigeria are considered the largest producer of cashew fruits.
Several parts of the cashew plant are used in the traditional medicine of the Patamona of Guyana. They grind the seeds into a poultice for treating snakebites, apply nut oil to cracked heels or as an antifungal agent, and use the fruits, bark, and leaves for many other purposes including anti-fungal activity, for sores and rashes, or as an antipyretic, and for antidiarrheal applications.
The leaf extracts with petroleum ether and ethanol inhibited the growth of quite a few species of bacteria and fungi. Chemicals recognized in cashew shell oil have been assayed against Streptococcus mutans, a bacterium responsible for several dental cavities, and started to have activity in vitro against this and other Gram-positive bacteria.