Cashews are a delicious snack and a good source of protein, magnesium and monounsaturated fats, according to NaturalHub.com. While cashews are a healthy addition to the diet, they contain only trace amounts of heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Add cashews to your diet for flavor, healthy fats, and antioxidants, but opt for other sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.
The cashew tree is native to South America, particularly Brazil and Peru. The cashew tree produces both a seed, the cashew, and a fruit, the cashew apple, according to VegParadise.com. Cashews may be pressed to produce cashew oil, used for cooking and other applications. Cashews have a caustic outer coating that must be heated to eliminate potential skin irritation, according to NaturalHub.com.
Cashew seeds and cashew oil contain only very small traces of Omega-3 fatty acids. According to an article in the October 2004 issue of the "Journal of the Canadian Medical Association," 100 g of cashew oil contains only 0.14 g of Omega-3 fatty acids. Other nuts, including almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts and hazelnuts contain even lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed oil, fish oil, or canola oil are better options for Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
While the total level of Omega-3 fatty acids in cashews is quite low, the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids is favorable. The World Health Organization recommends an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of less than 10. The Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio for cashews is 0.11, making cashews a good choice to reduce the overall ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, according to a 2007 article published in the "Pakistani Journal of Nutrition."
While cashews are low in Omega-3 fatty acids, they are a good source of protein, iron, magnesium and other minerals. Cashews are lower in fat than many nuts and somewhat higher in carbohydrates, reports VegParadise.com. Cashews contain approximately 45 g of fat per 100-g serving, and about 1/4 of the total fat is monounsaturated fat, ideal for heart health, according to NaturalHub.com.
Cashews are high in fat and calories and should be enjoyed in moderation as a part of a healthy diet. If you are looking for a nut or nut oil with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acid, walnuts are a better option than cashews, with walnut oil containing 10.4 percent Omega-3 fatty acids, according to the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association.