Cashew nuts, a richly sweet product of the cashew tree, have gained popularity in North America and Europe not only for their succulent flavor but for health benefits, too. Whether roasted, salted, sugared or covered in chocolate, the cashew nut, often used as a flavorful complement to appetizers, main dishes and deserts, packs a mix of nutrients and minerals not found in many common foods.
Cashew nuts, native to equatorial South America, are actually seeds, found growing on the end of the cashew apple, an edible and nutrient rich South American treat that is too fragile to export to North America or Europe .
Also known by the botanical name Anacardium occidentale, the cashew is a close relative of mangos, pistachios, poison ivy and poison oak. It was first introduced on a worldwide scale by Portuguese explorers in South America in the 16 th century, but international trade didn’t take off until the 1920s.
Sometimes called “nature’s vitamin pill,” cashew nuts, which now rank #1 among nut crops in the world with 4.1 billion pounds produced in 2002 , have been used to promote wellness for centuries.
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