But here she was, Jeannie, a key employee of a local, prestigious law firm. Ironically, there on her desk, right in front of me, was an opened can of – guess what? – yes, cashews.
I smiled sweetly and asked if I could take some. For you see, I will never refuse a cashew. I only wish there was some way to combine cashews with Oreo cookies.
The cashew is an interesting nut. It hangs down below the apple-like fruit of a cashew tree, embedded in the fruit and with a sort of shell. The fruit is also good to eat, sweet tasting.
The shells are used in a variety of chemical products. But the nuts are much more well known.
The nut is commonly roasted or smoked. If you are smoking cashews, do so outdoors, as the smoke contains droplets of a shell-derived chemical that is a potent skin sensitizer for contact dermatitis.
Cashews are eaten in pieces or whole as snacks, ground into paste, pressed for oils or milk and used in all kinds of cooking, particularly in the Far East and India.
The cashew was first found in northeastern Brazil and taken to India by the Portuguese. The tree grows best in tropical climates and can become very large.
The major producers today are Vietnam, Nigeria, India, Ivory Coast and Benin.
Alcohols also are made from cashew fruit in the Caribbean.
Planters Nuts, started in 1906 in Pennsylvania by Amedeo Obici as a peanut and fruit vendor. It has grown huge and now is owned by the Kraft Foods Company. It is a major seller of cashews in the United States.
Cashews are good for you. A 100-gram serving provides 553 calories, 67 percent of the daily value (DV) in total fats, 36 percent DV of protein, 13 percent DV of dietary fiber and 11 percent DV of carbohydrates.
Cashews are a rich sources of dietary minerals (greater than 19 percent DV) , including particularly copper, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium (79 to 110 percent DV), and of thiamin, vitamin B6 and vitamin K (32 to 37 percent DV). Iron, potassium, zinc and selenium are present in significant content (14 to 61 percent DV). Cashews (100 grams, raw) contain 113 mg of beta-sitosterol. All of this is according to Wikipedia.
Cashew products can cause a serious contact dermatitis, as noted above, and the responsible oil is chemically like the oils responsible for poison ivy and poison oak dermatitis. Sensitive individuals must not touch the shells or fruit and certainly must never inhale the smoke.
Tree nuts also can cause more common allergic symptoms or even anaphylaxis such as hives, itching, an asthma attack and worse of all throat swelling or blood pressure collapse.
Fortunately, cashews are on the potency low end of tree nut allergens. Remember that peanut allergy is NOT tree nut allergy, since peanuts are legumes (of the bean family).
Improve your pecan pie with some shavings of cashew on top, but NEVER tell Jeannie.
Dr. Stephen Imbeau and his wife, Shirley, have been in Florence for more than 30 years and raised their three children here. He and Dr. Joseph Moyer started the Allergy Center about 17 years ago, and it is now one of the largest in South Carolina. Contact him at email@example.com.