Cashew nuts that are sold commercially in grocery stores primarily come from Africa and India; however, the cashew nut is actually a native of the tropical regions in Brazil. The cashew nut is found growing on cashew trees.
The cashew tree grows long and fleshy stalks. At the end of each stalk, which is called a cashew apple, the cashew nut grows. Wild animals enjoy eating cashew nuts just as much as their human counterparts, but the animals can only eat cashew nuts that have fallen and are cracked open. The cashew nuts protect themselves with a double shell that has a poison known as anacardic acid. This poison is similar to the poison found in poison ivy and is the reason why cashew nuts are always sold without their shells, unlike nuts such as peanuts or pistachios. Cashew nuts sold for commercial use are most often dried and then roasted in order to remove the toxic and potentially lethal oils.
Cashew nuts have a number of nutrients including vitamin E, copper, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, zinc and heart-protective monounsaturated fats. These nutrients provide antioxidant defenses in the body, increase energy production, help to build strong bones and blood vessels, protect the heart, help to prevent gallstones and even help to lower the risk of weight gain.