Chestnuts differ from other edible nuts for their distinctive nutritional profile. They are exceptionally rich in vitamin-C, and folic acid.
Health benefits of chestnut. Chestnuts, unlike other nuts and seeds, are relatively low in calories, carry less fat, but are rich sources of minerals, vitamins and phyto-nutrients that immensely benefit health. ... Vitamin C is required for matrix formation in teeth, bones and blood vessels.
In addition, they are a good source of vitamin C as well as vitamins B1, B2, and B6 and folic acid. The health benefits of chestnuts center on their nutritional content. However, unlike other nuts, chestnuts are a low-fat variety and do not provide the benefits of a high level of monounsaturated fat.
Chestnuts nutrition facts
Starchy, sweet, rich in flavor, chestnuts are popular edible nuts of the northern hemisphere origin. The nuts are native to the mountainous forests of China, Japan, Europe, and North America. Botanically, they belong to the beech or Fagaceae family, in the genus: Castanea. Scientific name: Castanea sativa.
Castanea species are large deciduous trees. They are monoecious; bearing both male and female flowers (“catkins”) on the same tree. They have a remarkable survival history to narrate. Early in the 20th century, the once mighty American-chestnut tree was almost wiped out by pathogenic fungus chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica). A renewed interest has been growing since then to revive native chestnut trees throughout of the USA.
Once pollinated, female flowers develop into large spiny burr or involucres, each enclosing about 2-3 edible kernels. The fruit is quite larger compared to other tree nuts like cashews, macadamia, etc. Each nut features smooth, glossy, dark-brown outer shell, 1-1.5 inch in diameter and weighing 8-12 g depending upon the species. Inside, its sweet and starchy kernel features outer brown but inner creamy white flesh.
Four main species of chestnut trees cultivated around the world for their nuts; Castanea sativa in Europe, C. dentata in North America, C.mollissima in China and C. crenata in Japan. The United States is the chief importer of chestnuts from the European Union, although China has been the largest exporter of nuts worldwide, especially to Japan.
Health benefits of chestnut
Chestnuts, unlike other nuts and seeds, are relatively low in calories and fats. Nonetheless, they are rich sources of minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients that immensely benefit health.
Another unique feature of chestnuts is that they primarily compose of starch (carbohydrates) in contrast to other kinds of tree seeds and nuts which are rather high in calorie, protein, and fat. Chestnuts nutrition composition is, therefore, comparable to that of other staple starch foods such as sweet potato, sweet corn, potatoes, plantain. Nevertheless, they are still good sources of minerals, vitamins and some good-quality protein than cereals and tubers.
They are an excellent source of dietary fiber; provide 8.1 g (about 21% of RDI) per 100 g. Fiber diet helps lower blood cholesterol levels by limiting excess cholesterol absorption in the intestines.
Chestnuts stand out from other edible nuts for their distinctive nutrition profile. They are exceptionally rich in vitamin-C. 100 g nuts provide 43 mg of vitamin-C (72 % of DRI). Vitamin-C required for matrix formation in teeth, bones and blood vessels. Being a strong antioxidant, it offers protection from harmful free radicals.
Again, chestnuts are rich in folates akin to green leafy vegetables, which is quite a rare but unique feature for nuts and seeds. 100 g nuts provide 62 µg of folates (or 15.5%). Folic acid is essential for the formation of red blood cells, and DNA synthesis. Adequate consumption of food rich in folates during the peri-conception period helps prevent neural tube defects in the newborn.
Like true nuts, they too are a rich source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid (18:1) and palmitoleic acids (16:1). Studies suggest that monounsaturated fats (MUFs) in the diet help lower total as well as LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels within the blood. Mediterranean diet which is rich in dietary fiber, MUFs, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants help prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
The nuts are an excellent source of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc, besides providing a very good amount of potassium (518 mg / 100 g). Potassium counters hypertensive action of sodium, lowers heart rate and blood pressure. Iron helps prevent microcytic anemia. Magnesium and phosphorus are essential components of bone metabolism.
Further, they are also rich in many important B-complex groups of vitamins. 100 g of nuts provide 11% of niacin, 29% of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), 100% of thiamin, and 12% of riboflavin.
Chestnuts, like hazelnuts and almonds, etc., are gluten free food items. Moreover, for the same reason, they are one of the popular ingredients in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas intended for use in gluten-sensitive, wheat allergy, and celiac disease patients.
Chinese chestnuts (C. mollissima) are good in vitamin A; provide 202 IU per 100 g.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered:
"Chestnuts are the only low-fat nuts, containing just 1 gram of fat and a little less than 70 calories per ounce of dried or roasted nuts. Additionally, chestnuts are the only nuts that contain vitamin C; in fact, just 3 ounces of chestnuts supply about 45% of the recommended daily amount of this vital antioxidant nutrient. And they’re a great source of dietary fiber, which helps lower blood cholesterol levels. When chestnuts are in season, you can roast them in the oven. If you’re pressed for time, you can buy them prepackaged and ready to eat any time of year. You should eat up to 3 ounces of chestnuts a day to maximize their benefits."
Selection and storage
Chestnuts in South Korean market
Chestnuts in a market.
Chestnuts are cool season crops; available in the markets from October through March, peaking in December.
In the stores, choose big sized, fresh nuts. Since they are rich in starch and fewer fats than most other nuts, they tend to spoil rather quickly if exposed to air and excess humid conditions for a longer period. To verify freshness, cut open some sample nuts to examine meaty, creamy-white kernel inside since often it is difficult to figure out damaged nuts by their external outlook. Avoid those with greenish mold between the convoluted folds, on the kernel and its outer shell.
Chestnuts should be treated more like vegetables and fruits than nuts when it comes to storage. Once at home, pack them in a perforated bag and place in the refrigerator set at high relative humidity where they remain fresh for few weeks.
Preparation and serving methods
Chestnuts are pleasantly sweet and flavorful. In the olden times, the native Americans treated chestnuts as their staple foods, employed them much like modern-day potatoes.
Here are some serving tips:
Enjoy them raw, boiled or roasted. To roast, make few, small incisions over the dome-side to prevent them from busting.
In Japan, steamed chestnut rice (Kuri Gohan) is a popular autumn dish. In Korea, a kind of sweet dessert known as yaksik is prepared using chestnuts, jujube, and pine nuts mixed with glutinous rice for the New Year celebrations.
The nuts are used as one of the main ingredients in poultry stuffing, especially in the Thanksgiving turkey.
Chestnut flour is also sought after in many Tuscany recipes such as polenta, sweet bread, biscuits, cakes, soups, and ice-cream.
Marron glacé is a highly popular confectionary in the Europe where large-sized, high-quality European chestnuts (Marrone di Lucerna ) are employed. To prepare marron glacé; the nuts soaked in water, then dipped and heated in a gradual concentration of sugar vanilla syrup for several days. These candied nuts are then subjected to dry under heat/sunlight before packing.
They are also used to make the chestnut buttercream.
Dr. Michael T. Murray, ND , Naturopathic Medicine, answered,
"Chestnuts are an excellent source of manganese, molybdenum, and copper and a good source of magnesium. In addition, they are a good source of vitamin C as well as vitamins B1, B2, and B6 and folic acid.
The health benefits of chestnuts center on their nutritional content. However, unlike other nuts, chestnuts are a low-fat variety and do not provide the benefits of a high level of monounsaturated fat."
How do you eat chestnuts?
Method 2 Roasting Chestnuts in an Oven
1. Preheat your oven to 400ºF (205ºC).
2. Cut an "X" shape into the flat side of each chestnut. Use a sharp knife to do this. ...
3. Place the chestnuts on a baking sheet. ...
4. Roast the chestnuts for 15-20 minutes. ...
5. Crush their skins. ...
6. Peel the nuts. ...