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Chestnuts are edible nuts that belong to the Castanea genus, in the beech family Fagaceae. Chestnuts, particularly roasted chestnuts serve an integral part of Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. Chestnuts grow in green shells with spikes which when peeled the brown-coloured nut can be seen. They are enjoyed across the world for their slightly sweet and crunchy taste.
Interestingly, chestnuts are considered both a nut and fruit. Chestnuts shouldn't be confused with horse chestnuts or water chestnuts. Chestnuts are delicious and versatile and can be eaten either in roasted or cooked form.
- American chestnut
- Chinese chestnut
- Sweet chestnut (also called Spanish chestnut)
- Japanese/Korean chestnut
Chestnuts are praised for their wealth of important nutrients that benefit your health in many ways.
Nutritional Value Of Chestnuts
100 g of chestnuts contain 40.48 g water, 245 kcal energy and it also contains:
- 3.17 g protein
- 2.2 g fat
- 52.96 g carbohydrate
- 5.1 g fibre
- 10.6 g sugar
- 29 mg calcium
- 0.91 mg iron
- 33 mg magnesium
- 107 mg phosphorus
- 592 mg potassium
- 2 mg sodium
- 0.57 mg zinc
- 0.507 mg copper
- 1.2 mcg selenium
- 26 mg vitamin C
- 0.243 mg thiamine
- 0.175 mg riboflavin
- 1.342 mg niacin
- 0.497 mg vitamin B6
- 70 mcg folate
- 1.5 mg choline
- 1 mcg vitamin A
- 0.5 mg vitamin E
- 7.8 mcg vitamin K
Health Benefits Of Chestnuts
1. Improve digestion
Chestnuts can help improve your digestion. They are a good source of fibre, which helps regulate your bowel movements and supports the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. A study found that chestnut extract had a protective effect on the strain of probiotics found in your gastrointestinal tract .
2. Promote heart health
Chestnuts possess antioxidants, which can lower inflammation and boost your heart health . Chestnuts also contain magnesium and potassium that can help lower the risk factors associated with heart disease.
3. Enhance brain function
The presence of several B vitamins, including vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamine and folate in chestnuts have the potent ability to keep your brain healthy and protect against neurodegenerative disorders. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food showed that the inner skin of chestnut could improve learning and memory function and prevent neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease .
4. Support bone health
Chestnuts contain a significant amount of calcium, vitamin K, magnesium and copper, all these essential nutrients help in improving bone health. Studies have shown that vitamin K can not only increase bone mineral density in osteoporotic people but also reduces fracture rates . Magnesium is another essential mineral that helps in the formation of bones . Calcium and copper also plays a major role in maintaining bone health  .
5. May control blood pressure
As chestnuts contain a good amount of the essential mineral potassium, it helps the kidneys flush out the excess sodium from your body through urine, because too much sodium causes high blood pressure, and it helps the walls of the blood vessels to relax, which further helps in reducing blood pressure.
6. Boost immunity
Chestnuts are a good source of vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant. This vitamin plays an important role in supporting immune function and lowering the risk of infections.
7. Prevent chronic diseases
The antioxidant activity of chestnuts prevents chronic diseases such as cancer. A 2010 study published in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry showed that chestnut flower extract exhibited potent antioxidant and anti-melanogenic properties that can help manage cancer risk .
Side Effects Of Chestnuts
Nut allergies are common, and if you are allergic to nuts then it's best to avoid the consumption of chestnuts. Chestnut allergy causes symptoms like redness, swelling and wheezing. It is advisable to speak to your doctor before consuming chestnuts .
Ways To Eat Chestnuts
- Roasted chestnuts are popular and eaten as a snack. Roast them in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Puree chestnuts and add it to pancakes or crepes.
- Add roasted chestnuts to salad.
- Use chestnut flour to bake cakes.
- Use chopped roasted chestnuts as a topping for soups, stews and stir-fries.
- Sprinkle chestnuts over sprouts or stir it into a stuffing mixture.
Roast parsnip and chestnut salad
- 500 g parsnips, quartered
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 200 g cooked and peeled whole chestnut
- 2 rosemary sprigs, chopped
- 1 tsp honey
- 140 g mixed salad leaves (you can use spinach, lettuce, collards or any leafy greens)
- Heat oven to 200 degree Celsius. On a baking tray, add parsnips and pour olive oil. Toss it and roast for 20 minutes.
- Then take out from the oven and add chestnuts and rosemary to it. Drizzle honey over it and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes. Then allow the mixture to cool.
- Toss the salad leaves with some olive oil and seasoning and place it on a plate. Add the mixture to it and serve .