I read a piece about research into cashews and blood sugar at 1 great day, based on  a piece of research originally published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research (published online July 5, 2010) entitled “Hydro-ethanolic extract of cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale) nut and its principal compound, anacardic acid, stimulate glucose uptake in C2C12 muscle cells”. The entire article is not available online (not for free at least) but the abstract can be viewed.

The upshot seems to be that an extract of cashew seed seems to have been effective in stimulating the uptake of glucose by muscle cells in rat livers. Nothing was tested on humans here, even though cashew seed extract does not sound especially hazardous. Hydroethanolic just means water and alcohol and appears to be a common means of preparing extracts of plant products.

It’s interesting to note that the study was partially funded by Institute of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods, so the production of a commercially available extract would seem to be a possible eventuality.

Since we don’t have access to cashew seed extract (in any form, as far as I know) it’s probably a good idea to just eat some whole cashews now and then. Extracts potentially have a few shortcomings compared to the foods they are extracted from:

  1. don’t taste as good
  2. cost more
  3. lack the other micro nutrients, fiber & fatty acids present in the original food

To get an idea of what might be missing I checked the USDA nutrient database for the nutritional content of 100 grams of raw cashews (which is not really a very large serving). Here’s the vitamin and mineral content.

A fairly wide array of nutrients. In addition there’s some fiber and a number of (primarily mono-unsaturated) fatty acids.

How much cashew you’d have to eat to get the effective dose mentioned in the article (“Significant synergistic effect on glucose uptake with insulin was noticed at 100 g/mL CSE”) I really don’t know and I’m not sure how you’d go about calculating that and translating it into an effective dose for a human.

So it might be a good idea to just eat some cashews now and then, since they’re probably pretty good for you anyways.