About Cashew tree and its fruitsDo you know about the origin of Cashew trees? It originally belongs to Brazil but Portuguese traders intelligently used it as a soil retainer to stop erosion on the coasts. Its introduction to Mozambique and India during 16th century for that reason by the Portugese yielded different results and cashew nut production has become rich commercial crop in East Africa and throughout the tropical lowlands of northern South America, Central America and the West Indies.
We all are well aware of the fragrance and excellent flavour of the cashew nut, but I sincerely doubt many of us have not tasted the juicy fruit of this plant. Strictly speaking the true fruit is none other than the nut that is much in demand and the "fruit" that is rarely available in the market during the Summer season for eating is a swollen stem and also called as Cashew Apple.
Cashew fruit and meWhen I visit my native place and the surrounding places, I search for this rare fruit tastes a bit tart but sweet and sometimes tastes like a pine apple. The ripe fruit would be juicy with a faint rose perfume.
Being very juicy, we almost always spoiled our clothing when eating them. I still remember those days when my father used to scold us for my craziness about the fruit and spoiling my cloths. I was at Delhi and miles away from my place but being my mother's beloved son, she used to get them for me exclusively when I go there for vacation. They have to be absolutely ripe before you eat them, or they just taste bad. They won't be available at big places and cities as transportation of these fruits require fast movement as they are too fragile to make it through transit. So, they are much abundant during summer in rural part and hilly terrain.
On the bright side, the acid has medical uses -- it's mildly antibacterial and antifungal, and it's sometimes used to relieve toothaches.
One of the most popular cash crops and widely known in tropical region of Asia is Cashew tree. It is rich in medicinal properties. All of us are well versed with the nut and happy to consume in its raw form or dried one or a fried one. But many of us rarely know about a false fruit known as the cashew apple from which the nut protrudes.
(Cashew fruits - Photgraph taken by the author)
A three and five inches in length, the cashew apple has a smooth, shiny skin that turns from green to bright red, orange or yellow in colour as it grows. This sugar rich fruit also contains good amount minerals minerals, mainly calcium, iron and phosphorous. They also provide enough essential minerals like manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium for deficiency disease prevention.
Health benefits that can be derived from Cashew Apple are plenty by virtue of its medicinal values. Those who believe in home remedies and follow Ayurvedic treatment very often suggest this little fruit.
Health benefits of Cashew fruits
1. We know that Orange is rich in Vitamin C while its degree of content would be 5 times more in a Cashew apple. It is also considered as good source of energy.
2. Medically they are used for preventing cholera and curing scurvy and diarrhoea. Its application is very effective to check neurological pain and rheumatism serve as an ointment for aches of rheumatism and neuralgia.
3. Cashew fruit is an edible food and we can remove the undesirable tannins and the cashew apples can be processed as juices, syrups, canned fruits, pickles, jams, chutneys, candy and toffee.
4. These fruits are used in manufacturing jams and soft and alcoholic drinks.
5. Wine is a very popular drink in West Africa prepared by squeezing Cashew Apples to make fresh juice and then fermented into cashew wine.
6. These fruits are a powerful remedy for colds and consuming 2-3 fruits would give immediate relief.
7. It is believed that a glass of cashew fruit juice would enhance the energy levels in males and females to enjoy their activities before going to bed. It also helps women who pass through the menopause to have their normal sleep patterns.
8. It is suggested as a home remedy as the fruits contain fats help in keeping the heart healthy and reduce the risk of heart diseases.
9. These fruits are rich in calcium and Vitamin C which help in enhancing healthy muscles and bones in the body.
10. The anti-bacterial properties in these fruits effectively work on treating stomach ulcers and gastritis.
11. Cashew apples are rich in antioxidants and used in the preparation of various creams and shampoos.
12. Cashew extract also prevents the spread of the cancer cells in a body and cashew apple juice can be given for chronic dysentery as an anti-diarrheal remedy.
13. These are also used to treat infant's thrush and sore mouth.
DisadvantagesCashew apples can't be stored for a long time and would get rotten within 2-3 days. They should be processed within two to three hours of picking to get the desired result for home remedies. The waxy layer of the skin is the main reason for its highly astringent and acrid taste which will have a chain affect on our tongue and throat after eating leading allergic reactions on the throat or tongue. It is not very popular because of its acidic taste, owing to the presence of this layer. The anacardic acid present init sometimes causes a skin rash on contact.
(Note: The information furnished is not medically proven but based on experience and information gathered from various sources. readers are requested to use their discretion before following any suggestion mentioned here as application of certain home remedies vary from person to person based on the conditions )
Jagdish Patro is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to ISC and other websites. Fond of reading books, novels and spends his leisure time by listening to music. He did his B.Sc in Applied Chemistry and his M.Sc in Resource Development Technology. He edited and published an in-house monthly journal by name ‘Srujana’ during 2009-2011 which was totally a private circulation.
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