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Are Cashews Good for Depression and Anxiety?

Published February 20, 2019 Read Time: 4 minutes
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

<article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">What is Depression and Anxiety?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">Depression and Diet</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">What’s Healthy About Cashews?</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">What’s the Deal with Cashews and Depression?</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">What About Cashews and Anxiety?</a></li> <li><a href="#section6">Are Any Other Nuts Good for Depression and Anxiety?</a></li> <li><a href="#section7">Wrapping Up</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>Cashews are in. Prozac is out. At least that was word on the street a few years ago. Information started to emerge about healthy nuts like cashews and their ability to fight off depression and anxiety. There seemed to be a connection. After all, cashews are packed with proteins, omega-3 fats, and many of the vitamins and minerals linked to improved mental health.</p> <p>But saying cashews can replace an antidepressant? That’s a bold claim. Here’s a short article that tackles this link between cashews and depression and describes all the benefits you should know about from adding cashews to your diet.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="sad-girl-black-and-white-0084"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section1"> <header>What is Depression and Anxiety?</header> <p> defines <i>depression</i> as a mood disorder that affects one’s life, listing symptoms like feeling sad or different, fatigued, or even having trouble sleeping <sup>1</sup>. It’s believed that at least one out of every twelve people suffer from depression in some way <sup>2</sup>.</p> <p><i>Anxiety</i> on its own is categorized as a natural response to stress, but <i>chronic anxiety</i> (lasting several months or more) can affect your mental, physical, and emotional well-being <sup>3</sup>. Nearly 30 percent of people deal with anxiety in some form or another, and women are more likely to than men <sup>4</sup>.</p> <div class="sub-head">How Do I Know If I Have Depression or Anxiety?</div> <p>Good question! Unfortunately, it’s one we can’t answer outright for you. You should consult your doctor if you think you’re suffering from symptoms of depression or anxiety.</p> <p>But we’ll still show you how your diet, and maybe even how adding healthy fats to it, can impact depression.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section2"> <header>Depression and Diet</header> <p>The old cliché ‘you are what you eat’ applies when it comes to mental health, depression, and anxiety. Unhealthy foods like saturated fats, sugars, and a lot of caffeine can exacerbate the symptoms of depression <sup>4</sup>. On the other hand, a whole-food diet (like our favorite, the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">ketogenic diet</a>) can actually promote your mental wellbeing.</p> <p>As we’ve talked about before, we can control depression and diet by selecting good coping mechanisms like exercise (<a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">at-home workouts</a> or <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">walking</a>, for example).</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section3"> <header>What’s Healthy About Cashews?</header> <p>Cashews are packed with proteins, healthy fats, vitamins E, B, and K, and minerals like copper, iron, and magnesium <sup>5</sup>. They improve eye and heart health and may even help fight off cancer. In terms of health benefits, cashews offer a lot.</p> <p>Cashews do have a lot of calories, and compared to other nuts, more carbs. While they offer a lot, you probably don’t want to eat a ton of them. <i>Too</i> many will make it hard to lose weight and stay in ketosis.</p> <p>Short answer: Cashews offer a lot of health benefits. But because they’re high in calories in carbs, it’s probably best to not overindulge. As a general rule, don’t go nuts on nuts.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="pills-in-hand-0084"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section4"> <header>What’s the Deal with Cashews and Depression?</header> <p>Somewhere around 2016, word on the street was that nuts like cashews were natural antidepressants. The catch phrase was: two handfuls of cashews per day can replace a drug like Prozac. This was popular for a while, then it kind of died off. Now it’s back, and people are asking questions.</p> <p>Is it true? Can nuts like cashews fight off depression? Well, the answer isn’t so simple.</p> <div class="sub-head">Vitamins and Mineral</div> <p>Besides being a healthy snack, there is plenty of research suggesting nuts are the perfect food for battling depression <sup>6</sup>. Cashews, for example, are packed with magnesium, which helps calm down your nervous system and reduce <i>cortisol</i> (also helping <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">with inflammation</a>).</p> <div class="sub-head">Tryptophan and Serotonin</div> <p>Maybe the most interesting thing about cashews is they are packed with the amino acid <i>tryptophan</i> (yes, that same thing in turkey that people say makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving). Tryptophan releases <i>serotonin</i>—the chemical responsible for the ‘happy’ or ‘high-spirited’ feeling in your brain—which obviously would help someone battling depression.</p> <div class="sub-head">What You Should Remember</div> <p>While the makeup of cashews is pretty compelling, it’s hard to outright state that ‘cashews prevent depression.’ Perhaps the initial statement that two handfuls of cashews was equal to taking Prozac was exaggerated.</p> <p>Still, there’s a ton of benefits to eating cashews, especially if you’re working to improve mental health. Nuts in general (just like <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">high-quality protein</a> and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">probiotics</a>) offer a ton of benefits for your physical, mental, and emotional health.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section5"> <header>What About Cashews and Anxiety?</header> <p>Pretty much the same deal here as with depression. Nuts like cashews are healthful for a ton of reasons. Given the science around tryptophan, magnesium, and high-protein helping to improve your mental health, we’d say cashews could only help you with anxiety.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="mixed-nuts-on-table-0084"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section6"> <header>Are Any Other Nuts Good for Depression and Anxiety?</header> <p>Yes, of course! Almonds and walnuts are also great because of their high vitamin and mineral content, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein <sup>4</sup>.</p> <p>Nearly half of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diet. Nuts are a natural source of these. As we mentioned, magnesium might help calm your nerves.</p> <p>It doesn’t hurt that they are also staples of the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">ketogenic diet</a>, our preferred nutritional approach for shedding body-fat and getting healthy. A <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">total body transformation</a> might cure those blues, too.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <section id="section7"> <header>Wrapping Up</header> <p>The nutritional profile of this tasty nut makes the connection between cashews and depression or anxiety at least interesting to consider. While we can’t one hundred percent prove that cashews are natural antidepressants, we feel pretty good about saying they can’t hurt!</p> <p>This high-fat, high-protein, vitamin-packed snack might help you cure the blues, and it’s also keto <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">grocery list approved</a>. For those reasons, we give cashews two thumbs up.</p> <p>Pop over to our <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer"recipes page</a> for tasty, keto-inspired meals and snacks.</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer"> Everything You Want to Know About Depression</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer"> Prevalence of Depression Among Adults Aged 20 and Over</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer"> What Are Anxiety Disorders?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer"> Essential fatty acids and mental health</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer"> Are Cashews Good for You?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer"> Foods and Nutrients for Mania and Depression</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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