Cashews are a nutritious snack that are rich in healthy fats, fiber, and plant-based protein. A serving of cashews can provide a significant amount of protein to help support muscle growth and maintenance. But exactly how much protein is in 1⁄4 cup of cashews?
The Protein Content of Cashews
Most nuts provide a good amount of protein, and cashews are no exception. Here’s an overview of the protein content in 1⁄4 cup of raw, unsalted cashews:
- Calories: 207
- Total fat: 16.8g
- Total carbs: 16.2g
- Dietary fiber: 1.9g
- Protein: 5.2g
As you can see, a 1⁄4 cup serving of cashews contains 5.2 grams of protein, which is about 10% of the Daily Value (DV). This makes cashews a good source of plant-based protein.
Benefits of Cashew Protein
Here are some of the top benefits that the protein in cashews can provide:
- Muscle growth and repair – Plant proteins like cashews contain all the essential amino acids needed to support muscle synthesis after exercise.
- Satiety – Protein increases satiety, helping you feel fuller for longer between meals which can assist with weight management.
- Heart health – Replacing saturated fat with plant protein can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
- Diabetes management – Protein slows digestion, preventing unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels.
Additionally, cashews have a high protein digestibility score, meaning the protein is efficiently used by the body. The protein quality of nuts also remains relatively unaffected by roasting or processing. So you can enjoy cashew protein from raw nuts as well as cashew butter.
Cashew Protein Compared to Other Nuts
Cashews have a lower protein content than some other nuts. Here’s how the protein in 1⁄4 cup of cashews compares to other nuts:
|Nut||Grams of Protein (in 1⁄4 cup)|
Peanuts have the most protein per 1⁄4 cup serving at 8 grams. Almonds and pistachios are tied for second highest with 6 grams of protein. So cashews land around the middle of the pack for protein content among popular nuts.
Increasing Your Cashew Protein Intake
While a 1⁄4 cup of cashews has 5 grams of protein, there are ways you can easily increase your total cashew protein intake to meet your needs:
- Consume larger portions like 1⁄2 cup or 1 cup servings
- Enjoy cashews as a snack multiple times during the day
- Add cashews to meals like salads, stir-fries, and cereals
- Use cashew butter on sandwiches or apple slices
- Blend raw cashews into smoothies
- Make your own cashew milk for a protein boost
Aim for a total daily protein intake of around 0.36 grams per pound of body weight as part of a balanced, nutrient-rich diet.
Tips for Buying and Eating Cashews
Follow these tips to enjoy the protein benefits of cashews:
- Look for raw or dry roasted nuts instead of those cooked in oils. The calorie and fat content will be lower.
- Avoid heavily salted cashews which can drive up sodium intake.
- Portion into 1⁄4 cups servings to better control serving size.
- Store cashews in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer to prevent them from going rancid.
- Eat cashews as part of a varied diet with plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Recipes High in Cashew Protein
You can boost your cashew protein intake by including them in delicious recipes like these:
Maple Cashew Granola
This homemade granola is crunchy, satisfying, and packed with 5g of protein per serving. The cashews add healthy fats and plant-based protein.
- 2 cups old fashioned oats
- 1⁄2 cup raw cashews, chopped
- 1⁄4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
- In a large bowl, combine oats, cashews, maple syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt.
- Spread mixture evenly on baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool before serving. Store in an airtight container.
High Protein Cashew Chicken Salad
Chicken salads are an easy way to incorporate more protein into your diet. This recipe provides 39g protein per serving:
- 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
- 1⁄2 cup chopped cashews
- 1⁄2 cup diced celery
- 1⁄4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1⁄4 tsp each salt and pepper
- In a large bowl, combine chicken, cashews and celery.
- In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper.
- Pour dressing over chicken mixture and stir until evenly coated.
- Serve on bread, lettuce or crackers. Refrigerate leftovers.
Vegan Cashew Protein Balls
These no-bake energy bites pack 4g protein each. Cashew butter and protein powder provide plant-based protein.
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1⁄2 cup cashew butter
- 1⁄2 cup oats
- 2 tbsp vanilla protein powder
- 1⁄4 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Pulse dates in a food processor until small pieces form.
- Add cashew butter, oats, protein powder, vanilla and salt. Process until a sticky dough forms.
- Roll dough into 1″ balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
- Store protein balls in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
The Nutritional Benefits of Cashews
Beyond their protein content, cashews deliver several other key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants:
- Copper – Cashews are an excellent source of copper which helps form red blood cells and keeps the immune system healthy.
- Magnesium – This mineral is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. It promotes normal nerve and muscle function.
- Iron – Necessary for carrying oxygen throughout the body. Cashews provide non-heme iron which is more easily absorbed than iron from meat.
- Zinc – This mineral supports wound healing, DNA synthesis, and protects the body from infection and inflammation.
- Selenium – Has antioxidant properties and helps regulate thyroid function. Just 1 ounce of cashews meets over 1/3 of the DV.
The healthy fats in cashews are mostly monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid along with some polyunsaturated omega-3s. These provide energy, help absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and support brain function.
Additionally, cashews are rich in antioxidants like carotenoids and phenolic compounds. These counter inflammation and may lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer according to research.
Potential Downsides of Cashews
Cashews are very healthy when enjoyed in moderation as part of varied diet. However be mindful of the following downsides:
- High in calories and fat so portion control is important.
- Phytic acid content can hinder mineral absorption.
- May trigger allergic reactions in those with nut allergies.
- Toxic compounds are found in cashew shells which are removed during processing.
- Can interact with some medications like blood thinners.
As with most foods, cashews are best eaten as part of a nutritionally balanced diet while paying attention to serving recommendations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are cashews a good source of protein?
Yes, cashews provide a significant amount of plant-based protein with 5 grams per serving. They contain all the essential amino acids necessary for the body’s protein needs. Cashews offer a meatless way to meet daily protein intake goals.
Are cashews high in protein compared to other foods?
Cashews are relatively high in protein compared to other common plant foods. For example, 1⁄4 cup of cashews has 5g protein compared to 1g in 1⁄4 cup of rice or 2g in 1⁄4 cup of typical beans. However, animal proteins like meat, eggs, and dairy tend to be higher in protein per serving compared to cashews.
Can you eat too many cashews in a day?
It’s best to stick to the recommended serving size of cashews, which is around 1⁄4 cup. Consuming too many nuts can lead to excessive calories, fat, and phytic acid intake. Overdoing it on cashews may also displace other nutritious foods from your diet. Enjoy cashews in moderation as part of a varied, whole food diet.
Are cashews healthier than other nuts?
Cashews are very nutritious, but other nuts also provide benefits. For example, almonds are higher in protein while walnuts offer more omega-3s. All nuts provide healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals like magnesium, iron, and zinc. Vary the types of nuts you eat to get the fullest nutritional profile.
Can you eat cashews on a low carb or keto diet?
Cashews can be eaten on a low carb diet like keto, but portion size matters. Since a serving of cashews contains 16g net carbs, limit intake to about 1⁄4 cup per day if following a keto diet. Focus on nuts lower in carbs like pecans, macadamia nuts, and walnuts if restricting carbs.
The Bottom Line
A 1⁄4 cup serving of raw cashews contains 5 grams of plant-based protein, providing roughly 10% of the recommended daily intake. In addition to protein, cashews offer many other nutrients like healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidants. Enjoy cashews as a nutritious plant-based protein source as part of a balanced diet, keeping portions in check.