Are Cashew Nuts Good for Pregnancy? Safety and Benefits

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Cashew nuts are rich in nutritional benefits and creamy flavor, but many pregnant women wonder if they are safe to consume during pregnancy regularly.

Cashews are safe during pregnancy when consumed in moderation. They have many health benefits, including improved digestion, a lower risk of cashew allergy in the child, and much more. However, the cashew fruit must be eaten in small amounts during pregnancy to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

Cashews are a favorite snack for those looking to grab a quick protein-packed handful or are a clever plant-based alternative as cashew butter, cashew milk, or cashew cheese. So let’s dive into the benefits and safety of cashew nuts during pregnancy!

The Benefits of Cashew Nuts During Pregnancy

The American Heart Association recommends a serving of nuts each day to replace red meat, fried foods, or desserts. However, since nuts, including cashews, are high in calories and fats, consume nuts in moderation during pregnancy with no more than the recommended amount.

Not only does it promote heart health from the unsaturated fats in the nuts, but it also replaces a saturated fat source that is often rich in empty calories. 

roasted and salted cashew nuts

Therefore, a serving a day of nuts has been shown to prevent weight gain and obesity. A serving, or “handful,” of cashew nuts is approximately 18 cashews weighing one ounce (source: Global Cashew Council). 

Many pregnant women wonder if consuming peanuts or tree nuts, such as organic cashew nuts, during their pregnancy could create a nut allergy in their child. Actually, the exact opposite is true! There is no need to worry about consuming cashews, or any tree nut or peanut, during your pregnancy, unless you have a peanut or tree nut allergy. 

A study found that pregnant women who consumed peanuts and tree nuts during their pregnancy, including cashew nuts, had a reduced risk of their child developing a peanut or tree nut allergy in the future (Source: JAMA).

Cashew nuts are rich in essential vitamins, macronutrients, and minerals that help to support the pregnant body and developing fetus. Let’s discuss some of the key players. 

Cashews contain a significant amount of protein. Protein is vital during pregnancy, with the recommended daily amount at 75 to 100 grams of protein (source: American Pregnancy Association). During pregnancy, protein is needed to grow body tissue, whether tissue in the developing fetus or the mother’s breast and uterus. Also, protein increases blood supply which is necessary during pregnancy.

Magnesium is an essential mineral found in cashew nuts that supports so many biological reactions in the body, from blood sugar control to nerve and muscle functioning (source: National Institutes of Health). It also plays a role in bone development, DNA production, and heart rhythm. 

Cashew nuts are also a rich source of folate or folic acid. Folic acid is essential during pregnancy in preventing neural tube defects in the developing fetus. It is so critical that it should be consumed by all women of childbearing age even before they become pregnant.  

Cashews also contain iron, a mineral essential in creating healthy red blood cells that can adequately transport oxygen around the body. Oxygen is especially needed for metabolism and breaking down the food you eat into energy the body can use.

Additionally, cashews have fiber which is beneficial to a healthy digestive system. Fiber also acts as a prebiotic, feeding the healthy bacteria in the gut, also known as the gut microbiome.

However, many cashew nuts you can find in the grocery store’s aisles may be heavily salted or seasoned. Therefore, consuming low sodium or unsalted cashew nuts will help to limit excess salt during pregnancy. 

Are Cashew Nuts Safe When Pregnant?

Cashew nuts are safe when consumed during pregnancy, as long as you do not have any cashew or tree nut allergies.

Studies show that the prevalence of cashew nut allergies is on the rise (source: Allergy). Cashew allergies are grouped amongst tree nut allergies and can cause severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Even a minimal amount can trigger a reaction for those with a cashew nut or tree nut allergy. 

Is Cashew Milk or Cream OK During Pregnancy? 

As non-dairy milk alternatives are on the rise, you may be considering cashew nut milk or cashew cream during your pregnancy. There is no evidence to indicate that cashew milk or cream is unsafe to consume during pregnancy. 

Cashew milk or cream is beneficial for those who are lactose intolerant or lactose sensitive and are looking for a dairy milk alternative. In addition, switching to antioxidant-rich cashew milk could increase your protein, folic acid, and iron intake to promote a healthy pregnancy.

cashew cheese sauce in a white sauce boat

Is Cashew Cheese Safe During Pregnancy?

Cashew cheese is safe during pregnancy. From cashew cheese slices and blocks to cashew cheese sauce and even cashew cream cheese, these products would be a great alternative to dairy-based cheese to provide protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals during your pregnancy. 

For vegans looking for a delicious cheese alternative, cashew cheese is famous. Cashew cheese is typically made by soaking organic cashews in water, draining, and blending together.

Is Eating the Cashew Fruit Safe When Pregnant?

When consuming cashew fruit products, such as juice with the tannin left in, it is essential to only have small amounts during pregnancy to prevent any vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

The cashew apple is a tasty fruit with a sour and sweet flavor. Whether used in drinks or jellies and jams, the cashew apple contains natural components called tannins (source: Purdue University). 

red and yellow cashew fruits

Tannins have many health benefits as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and more (source: Toxin Reviews). While tannins have to result in any adverse effects for pregnant women when consumed in moderate amounts, excess consumption of tannins can reduce the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the pregnancy diet, including iron. 

However, this is unlikely, so no need to worry if you have been consuming cashew apples, or cashew apple products. Limit your consumption for the rest of your pregnancy.

I hope you found this article helpful in discussing the safety and benefits of cashew nuts and the many cashew products on the market.