Wild parrots rely on nuts, like cashews, for sustenance. However, you may be concerned about cashews’ fat and calorie content, especially for sedentary pet parrots.
Cashews are good for parrots as long as they’re raw and unsalted. They’re an excellent source of selenium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and vitamins B6 and K.
Cashew nuts are linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke. Unfortunately, cashews are high in fat, calories, and salt (sodium).
As with all nuts, only feed a parrot a few cashews 2-3 times a week.
Are Parrots Allowed Cashews?
Cashews are among the safest nuts for parrots to eat. Of all parrot-safe nuts, they have the highest amount of copper and zinc.
While cashew nuts are high in fat, they contain healthy fats. However, you must restrict the number of cashew nuts a parrot eats. Also, avoid salted nuts and feed them raw.
When giving parrots cashews:
- Soak them in water to reduce the amount of phytic acid.
- Feed them whole so that the parrot can break the cashews open.
- Hang them on the cage with a piece of string, allowing the bird to pick at them when hungry.
Are Cashews Safe for Parrots?
Cashew nuts contain the following nutrients:
Cashew nuts are an excellent source of copper, which parrots need for heme (iron compound) synthesis. It also creates healthy blood vessels, bones, and connective tissue.
Even though parrots only need some zinc, it helps form insulin and allows vitamin A to function better.
According to Environmental Contaminants in Biota, selenium’s a chemical compound that boosts the immune system, growth, reproduction, and thyroid hormone production.
Parrots need iron because they use it to create hemoglobin, which carries oxygen around the body. Cashews minimize the risk of anemia, preventing parrots from feeling weak and lethargic.
However, excessive iron can cause Iron Storage Disease (ISD), an unpleasant health condition that causes excess iron to accumulate around the vital organs.
Magnesium is an essential mineral for the nerves and muscles. A 28.35 g serving of cashew nuts contains 82.8 mg of magnesium, which is more than spinach, cherries, and cauliflower.
Magnesium assists in the following ways:
- Bone development and growth.
- Temperature regulation.
- Seizure prevention.
Magnesium deficiencies can lead to calcium deficiencies (hypocalcemia), so you must feed the parrot foods rich in this mineral to keep it healthy, especially egg-laying females.
Manganese assists in the formation of healthy bones and eggshells. Female parrots need more manganese than males, allowing them to reproduce more successfully.
Without sufficient manganese, parrots are at risk of the following problems:
- Perosis, which leads to physical deformities.
- Poor muscle coordination.
- Tarsometatarsal joint dislocation.
Manganese is also found in bamboo, tea, seeds, whole grains, and leafy vegetables.
Phosphorus is found in a parrot’s bones and bodily tissue. It maintains healthy eggshells and improves bone formation. Phosphorus also assists in the following ways:
- Waste filtration.
- Repairing tissue and cells.
- Metabolizing fats and carbohydrates.
- Allowing the body to use lipids and proteins.
Vitamin K is among the most vital vitamins for parrots because it keeps the bones healthy and strong, reducing the probability of the following:
- Weak, brittle bones.
- Breaks and fractures.
- Heavy bleeding.
Parrots spend their days perching, so weak bones make this more difficult and uncomfortable.
Cashew nuts contain trace amounts of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), which can help parrots remain healthy. It turns carbs and proteins into energy, allowing birds to remain active throughout the day.
As Vitamin B6 is water-soluble, parrots must eat foods that contain it daily.
A 28.35 g serving of cashew nuts contains 5.16 g of protein.
Parrots are omnivores, so they need protein to stay healthy. Amino acids are the body’s building blocks, forming strong muscles, eggshells, and vibrant feathers.
Protein should account for 10-20% of a parrot’s diet.
Are Cashews Dangerous for Parrots?
Cashews aren’t toxic, but they should be consumed in moderation. Potential problems include:
Phytic acid is a natural substance in plant seeds, including cashew nuts. Unfortunately, it binds to certain minerals, hindering the absorption of the following:
Once this binding process occurs, the body can’t access the nutrients, contributing to mineral deficiencies.
Cashew nuts are high in fat, containing 12.4 g per 28.35 g.
Excess weight also puts much pressure on the legs and feet, making injuries much more likely.
Salted cashew nuts contain more sodium than is ideal. Parrots can’t excrete sodium, so an excess causes:
Polydipsia is when a parrot develops an excessive, abnormal thirst after consuming too much salt.
After eating salty food, you’ll notice the parrot drinks more water to flush out the sodium because the body needs to thin its blood to dilute the salt.
It’s normal for a parrot to have some salt in its urine, but too much causes it to stop going to the toilet as often as it should, affecting kidney health and function.
Nuts can be infected with Aspergillus, a toxin derived from mold. This can cause parrots to develop aspergillosis, an infection characterized by:
- Chest pain.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Shortness of breath.
Raw cashews can harbor Aspergillus. If a parrot eats moldy nuts, its health will decline.
To check if cashews are moldy, do the following:
- Cut each cashew in half. If you see discoloration, throw it away.
- Wash the nuts under hot water to remove hidden traces of mold.
- Only buy cashews from reputable sources, like grocery stores.
Can Parrots Eat Raw Cashews?
Raw cashews are fine if they’re free from additives, oils, and other harmful ingredients. As mentioned, raw cashews carry the risk of mold, so inspect them before feeding them to parrots.
Can Parrots Eat Salted Cashews?
Parrots shouldn’t eat salted cashew nuts because too much sodium leads to excessive thirst and high blood pressure (hypertension).
Can Parrots Eat Chocolate Cashews?
Chocolate is also harmful because it contains butter and milk. After all, birds lack the lactase needed to digest lactose. The high fat and sugar content can also lead to obesity.
If you inspect each nut for signs of mold, plain cashew nuts (unsalted and unseasoned) are a healthy dietary addition for parrots. Here’s some further information on feeding parrots nuts.