Growing from the chestnut tree, there are several different chestnut species that can be spotted around the world. The one that most of us are accustomed to is the European chestnut that have been used for thousands of years. Some people use chestnut trees for timber, fuel and much more, but we’re going to look at what happens when you eat them. The texture of a chestnut has been described as that of a potato, which can make it a bit odd to eat, but the taste is sweeter than most nuts.
Here in the United States, chestnuts are commonly thought of as a holiday food, especially thanks to the infamous Christmas carol “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”. However, we’re here to tell you that chestnuts should be something that’s eaten all year. To show you why chestnuts are great for your diet, let’s take a look at the nutritional value and proven health benefits you get from chestnuts.
Nutrition of Chestnuts
It can be a bit difficult to fit a 100 gram (about 3.5 ounce) serving of chestnuts into a weight loss plan, as they contain 245 calories. However, you’ll be able to take smaller amounts and still get some great nutrition! The recommended serving size that we mentioned has more than three grams of protein while providing 20 percent of your daily recommendation for dietary fiber. Chestnuts are packed with vitamin C and nearly half a day’s worth, and you’ll also get a quarter of your daily vitamin B6.
Other significant vitamins between 10 and 20 percent daily value include vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin and folate, with smaller amounts of niacin and pantothenic acid. As for the minerals, chestnuts have nearly 60 percent of your daily manganese and a quarter of your daily copper. Phosphorus and potassium are both over 10 percent, while there are smaller (yet significant) amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Chestnuts only have 2.2 grams of fat and no cholesterol to top it all off.
Great For Digestion
The most important thing that you can get for your digestive health is dietary fiber, and there are more than five grams in each serving of chestnuts. That’s a nice dent in the 25 to 30 recommended grams, which more than 90 percent of Americans aren’t reaching on a daily basis. When you eat more dietary fiber, your body has more probiotics that get rid of harmful bacteria. You’ll also avoid a lot of ailments that can happen in your digestive system.
This means if you have irregularity, diarrhea, constipation and just about anything else, getting more fiber in your diet can take care of that. Fiber will also help you feel more full throughout the day so you’re not feeling hunger cravings and can even prevent serious diseases down the road such as colon cancer and diabetes. There’s a reason why fiber has become so trendy lately, so make sure you’re getting enough.
Speaking of fiber’s ability to prevent diabetes, foods that tend to be high in fiber and low in carbohydrates carry a low glycemic index. Chestnuts are certainly among these foods, meaning that your blood sugar won’t have any quick spikes or crashes, stabilizing your blood sugar to prevent diabetes. This is also helpful for those that have diabetes, as maintaining healthy insulin and glucose levels is a natural remedy to avoid serious issues.
The carbohydrates within chestnuts are the type that you want for long term energy instead of the short bursts. That’s because these carbs are complex ones that digest slowly into the body, giving you a natural increase in energy over time. There are 10 grams of sugars in chestnuts, but that’s not a concern for your overall blood sugar.
We’ve already shown you that chestnuts can help you prevent diseases such as diabetes and colon cancer, but chestnuts can help prevent just about any others that you can think of. Chestnuts have a lot of antioxidants, and are extremely high in vitamin C with about half a day’s recommended value. This allows your body to create white blood cells that will prevent foreign bodies from invading your body making you sick.
The antioxidants overall attack the free radicals that can be doing damage to your cells, which is the basis of chronic illness such as all forms of cancer. Antioxidants in chestnuts have been especially helpful against lung and stomach cancers. So whether you’re trying to prevent illnesses that can drag you down throughout the year like the cold or flu, or trying to prevent deadly illnesses, chestnuts will certainly help.
Good For the Heart
When you’re trying to manage your heart health, there are certain nutrients that you’ll want to take in, and you’ll want to avoid saturated fats. Thankfully, chestnuts are great in both departments, containing just 0.4 grams of saturated fats. While zero grams might sound more desirable, your body does need some to protect the vital organs of your body. Overall, there’s just 2.2 grams of fat in chestnuts.
Important minerals for the heart include potassium (17 percent daily value) that flush out excess sodium and relax the blood vessels for a more balanced blood pressure. Manganese and magnesium also benefit the heart, and you get a massive amount of the latter in chestnuts. Overall, you’ll be able to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase your HDL (good) levels by eating more chestnuts.
Taking care of your brain will make sure that you avoid problems that can drastically alter your quality of life later on. To do that, you should eat foods such as chestnuts because of the high count of B vitamins such as folate and thiamin. These minerals will make the blood flow more efficient, allowing for better cognitive function and memory retention. When your neurotransmitters are working at their highest levels, you’re less prone to neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases. Combining chestnuts with vegetables high in vitamin K make for the ultimate brain food.
Summing it Up
Just like with any food, there are certain things that you have to look out for when eating chestnuts. For starters, the high calorie amount can start to get away from you when eating chestnuts, which could lead to quick weight gain. However, for those that are looking to gain weight in a healthy way, chestnuts are a great option. People that should stay away from chestnuts are those that have an allergy, but those with a tree nut allergy will be fine.
When eating raw chestnuts, there are certain ways that you have to prepare them, so it’s easier just to roast them to make sure chestnuts are safe. For most people, there won’t be any problems eating roasted chestnuts, though doctors do suggest you speak with your personal doctor before eating if you’re pregnant or nursing. With all of that in mind, chestnuts are great in terms of overall health, and will make a great part of your diet!