Who can resist hazelnuts? The sight of chocolate covered hazelnuts can send any chocolate lover into delirium. But here’s a secret: this sweet, cream colored nut can not only tickle your taste buds but can also give you a plethora of health benefits!
Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are slightly sweet and tasty nuts belonging to the Betulaceae family. Hazel is a deciduous tree native to Europe and Turkey. It is cultivated all across the world, but is grown extensively in Turkey, Italy and the US.
The hazel fruits are borne in clusters and are held in a short, leafy capsule. The nut is yellowish to brown in color and is spherical to oval in shape. This marble sized nut is packed with a wide range of benefits. Apart from being a tasty indulgence, hazelnuts can help reduce weight and maintain the health of the heart.
Benefits of Hazelnuts for Health and Skin
Hazelnut is touted for its ability to protect the body from several diseases. Some of the hazelnuts benefits include:
Unlike most other nuts, hazelnuts are an excellent source of folate. A 100 gram serving provides 113 ug of folate, amounting to 30% of the daily-recommended value. Folate is highly beneficial for pregnant women. It helps to prevent megaloblastic anemia and neural defects in babies.
2. Vitamin E:
100 grams serving of hazelnuts provide 15% of the daily-recommended value of vitamin E. Hazelnut oil is a well-known source of vitamin E. Vitamin E prevents the disintegration of the red blood cells, reducing the risk of anemia. A proper circulation of blood also strengthens the immune system, keeping fever, cold, and other illnesses at bay.
Hazelnut is believed to eliminate the factors that lead to the development of cancerous cells. It defuses the malicious cells present in the body, preventing the possibility of cancer. Beta-sitosterol, a compound found in hazelnuts, reduces the risk of breast and prostate cancer. Several studies have concluded that hazelnuts contain alpha-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E that reduces the risk of bladder cancer by half.
4. Heart health:
Hazelnuts are rich in unsaturated fats that are extremely beneficial for the heart. The oleic acid in hazelnut lowers the bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol in the blood. Regular consumption of hazelnut decreases cholesterol by 27%. Studies have also revealed that eating hazelnuts reduce the oxidation of bad cholesterol that stick to the artery walls, obstructing the blood vessels. According to a research, people who consume hazelnuts on a regular basis have 50% less risk of dying due to heart attack. It also contains magnesium that promotes healthy rests between the contractions, preventing the overexertion of the heart.
Magnesium plays a very important role in regulating the amount of calcium that goes in and out of the body. The proper amount of calcium promotes muscle contraction and allows the muscles to relax when they are not needed. This prevents muscle tension, soreness, spasm, fatigue, and cramps. The high levels of magnesium also help increase muscle strength.
6. Bone and Joint Health:
Hazelnuts are also rich in manganese, a mineral required for the growth and strength of bones. Magnesium in hazelnuts can be very useful for building the structure and strength of the skeletal system. It increases bone mineral density and fights osteoporosis.
7. Nervous System:
Hazelnuts are rich in Vitamin B6, which is required for the creation of myelin, the sheath of the nerve that increases the speed and efficiency of electrical impulses, enabling the nervous system to operate properly. Hazel nuts are also instrumental in the synthesis of neurotransmitters like melatonin, serotonin, and epinephrine.
8. Digestive Tract Health:
Manganese in hazelnut acts as a catalyst in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol. It also facilitates the protein and carbohydrate metabolism. The high fiber content in hazelnuts promotes regular movement of food and waste in the digestive tract. It balances the chemicals and microorganism necessary for a healthy digestive system. Eating high amounts of fiber assists in managing weight by keeping you satiated longer.
9. Skin Health:
Vitamin E protects the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays, reducing the risk of skin cancer and dark spots. Vitamin E is also required for maintaining the integrity of the cell membranes, preventing premature ageing. It also protects the skin from harmful free radical attack. Regular facial massage with hazelnut oil protects the skin from dryness too.
Uses and Storage:
- Hazelnuts can be purchased shelled, unshelled, chopped and with or without skin. Unshelled nuts are much better than the processed nuts. The nuts should be brown to yellow in color and should be uniform in size. Store shelled hazelnuts in an airtight container or in a refrigerator to prevent them from getting rancid.
- One of the biggest advantages of hazelnuts is that they can be eaten raw, without any addition. Raw hazelnuts are a better alternative to the roasted ones as they retain the goodness of the nutrients present in it. You can also blend hazelnuts with milk, sugar, and fruits to make a delicious smoothie. However, if you do not like the taste of raw nuts, you can roast them in an oven at home.
- Hazelnuts are used in confectionery like chocolate truffle and praline. Powdered hazelnut is also added to coffee.
- Hazel nuts are also used to make hazelnut butter. This butter is ideal for people who suffer from peanut allergy.
- Hazelnut oil is extracted from the nuts and is often used as carrier oil for medicinal uses. The oil is also used for cooking purposes.
Hazelnuts Nutritional Value:
Hazelnuts contain several nutrients that are extremely vital for the health and development of the human body. Hazelnut contains protein, carbohydrate, beta-sitosterol, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It comes packed with B complex vitamins like riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, pyridoxine, and pantothenic acid. It is a rich source of minerals like calcium, folate, zinc, potassium, iron and manganese. A hundred gram serving of this tasty nut provide 328 calories. According to a research, hazelnuts contain 20 times more antioxidants than Vitamin C and 50 times more than Vitamin E! Hazelnuts or filberts nutrition is as follows:
|(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)|
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||60.75 g|
|Dietary Fiber||9.7 g|
|Pantothenic acid||0.918 mg|
|Vitamin A||20 IU|
|Vitamin C||6.3 mg|
|Vitamin E||15 mg|
|Vitamin K||14.2 µg|
Roasted hazelnuts taste extremely delicious with rich chocolate. It is combined with cocoa powder to make nutella, an extremely delicious chocolate spread. Hazelnut chocolate bars are equally popular among people of all age groups.
A healthy food that tastes yummy? Can anything be better than that? Go, indulge yourself, for once you need not feel guilty about eating something tasty! Hazelnuts are a great way to stay healthy without compromising on taste.
Do you enjoy eating hazelnut? How do you like to eat it—raw or roasted? Do you have some special hazelnut recipes to share with us?