Cashews not only an excellent source of protein, they also have other nutritional benefits that improve psychological health. For years, taking pills and therapy have been the treatment of choice for mood disorders – yet these methods do not help cure all cases of depression.
In fact, taking these kinds of pills may have numerous ill side-effects on the body.
Depression And Serotonin
Depression can be caused by a traumatic event, disease process, or aging – either way, managing it is something not to be taken lightly. While it is a multi-faceted condition that cannot be explained with science alone, it has been found that low levels of serotonin, a chemical neurotransmitter, is one of the major biologic causes. The body “manufactures” serotonin from its “precursor” substance – tryptophan – which can be obtained either from the diet or through supplementation.
Low tryptophan levels in the diet have been found to correspond to low serotonin levels in both the blood and brain.  Several studies have associated low-levels of tryptophan to contribute to mood disorders, with depleted tryptophan levels found in people suffering depression.
Drugs have been developed to increase the amount of serotonin in the body but they are not 100 percent effective.  People can spend years trying to make medical treatments work for them when the right diet and food choices may be of great value.
Tryptophan: The Anti-Depressive Nutrient
Tryptophan is one of the major nutrients found in cashews. It is a substance that is able to stabilize mood by increasing serotonin levels in the blood – the natural way!  This is because tryptophan is a pre-cursor to serotonin, meaning it turns into serotonin as it is absorbed and processed naturally by the body.  Eating foods rich in tryptophan has been suggested to fight and reduce the symptoms of depression and improve sleep by producing more of “the happy hormone” serotonin. 
Because serotonin isn’t readily available as a supplement, the only way to increase its levels in the blood is by tryptophan intake. The results of several studies suggest that tryptophan is able to improve social interaction  and sleep quality.  This is because depression not only affects a person’s mood, but also affects personal and professional relationships, quality and length of sleep, and work and school performance.
Simple Tips For Including Cashews In Your Diet
Cashews are easier to include in your diet than you think. One of the easiest is as a snack. Roast cashews with spices and little bit of sugar and you have a delicious and nutritious snack at your fingertips. Nuts are incredibly easy to store as well; just remember to keep them in a dry and sealed container and they can last for months.
To make a salad a little more hearty and protein-y, add a handful of cashews instead of bacon or meat! The same goes for stir-fried vegetables; cashews can be an alternative to meat. A popular Asian dish is stir-fried shrimp, green peas, and cashews – an excellent main dish you can have for lunch or dinner.
Instead of spending time and money on expensive drugs and treatment, why not try to adjust your diet first – the safer, and often better, alternative.
Other valuable tryptophan rich foods include turkey and grapefruit.
NOTE: If you are using any form of antidepressant medication – such as SSRIs (for example Prozac) – it’s strongly advised to check in with your doctor before consuming tryptophan-rich foods or tryptophan supplementation as these may be contraindicated in combination with such medications. As always, this page is not medical advice.
 Young, S. (2007). How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2077351/
 Ogawa, S., et. al. (2014). Plasma L-tryptophan concentration in major depressive disorder: new data and meta-analysis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25295433
 Marley, M. (2014). The Case for Cashews. http://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/nutrition/the-case-for-cashews-20140305
 Badawyy, A. (2013). Tryptophan: the key to boosting brain serotonin synthesis in depressive illness. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23904410
 Bell, C. (2001). Tryptophan depletion and its implications for psychiatry. http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/178/5/399
 Moskowitz, D., et. al. (2001). The effect of tryptophan on social interaction in everyday life: a placebo-controlled study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11425511
 Moskowitz, D., et. al. (2012). Tryptophan-enriched cereal intake improves nocturnal sleep, melatonin, serotonin, and total antioxidant capacity levels and mood in elderly humans. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22622709