There are a couple of dozen types of nuts that have been discovered around the world, and among the most popular is the hazelnut. Though not eaten as a snack as often as the almond or peanut, there are enough people that eat hazelnuts on a regular basis to make it as beloved as ever. Hazelnuts (which are also known as filbert nuts in some regions) have been around for thousands of years, with their origins tracing back to Scotland.
Since then, hazelnuts have sprouted up around the world, with a wide range of countries leading the way in production that include Turkey, Italy and the United States. Hazelnuts are delicious as a snack, but there’s a chance that most of the hazelnuts you eat are actually found within chocolate, as one chocolate company uses 25 percent of the world’s hazelnuts! Of course, eating hazelnuts on their own is going to be healthier, and bring a lot of great benefits. Let’s take a look at some of those benefits, and the nutrition that you get from eating hazelnuts.
Nutrition of Hazelnuts
If you’re willing to trade in some calories for great nutrition, then hazelnuts are a good way of doing that. There are 176 calories in a serving of hazelnuts, which doesn’t seem like a lot until you consider that’s only one ounce. That serving contains nearly 10 percent of your daily recommendation of protein and more than 10 percent of your daily fiber. There’s quite a bit of fat in hazelnuts with 17 grams, but only 1.3 grams of that are saturated, and there’s no cholesterol.
Vitamin E is the standout vitamin here with more than 20 percent daily value, and thiamin is over 10 percent. The other vitamins that are significant, but not over 10 percent, include vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6 and folate. Manganese is the most abundant mineral of the group with almost an entire daily serving, and a quarter of your daily copper. Magnesium is over 10 percent and smaller (yet significant) levels of minerals include iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
Good For the Heart
One of the reasons that certain nuts have become more popular over the past decade or so (somehow that was possible) is because of research that has been done to show how beneficial they are for the heart. Hazelnuts are no exception, as they contain a lot of healthy and unsaturated fats that boost your overall heart health. The most notable change hazelnuts can make is by raising your HDL (good) cholesterol.
Many of the minerals found within hazelnuts also play a big part in lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol for a solid 1-2 punch. One of these minerals is manganese, which you get a lot of from hazelnuts. Manganese levels off your blood pressure by balancing calcium and potassium in your body, so this food covers the two biggest aspects of being heart healthy.
The other big reason that people are flocking to nuts is because of the high protein content. Though hazelnuts aren’t quite as high in protein as other nuts with about 10 percent of your daily recommendation, it’s still a solid base to build upon. Outside of protein, hazelnuts help your muscles because of the high levels of magnesium. This mineral benefits muscles by reducing stress and tension, leading to fewer injuries and cramps.
This makes hazelnuts great for people that go to the gym and often feel the aches and pains associated with working out. You can even burn fat by eating hazelnuts compared to other foods of the same calorie content because of the extremely low carbohydrate content and high muscle building content. Making the swap can boost your metabolism so that you’re burning more calories, even while not at the gym.
Another aspect of being able to lose weight is by balancing your blood sugar, staying away from foods that are processed and packed with sugars. Hazelnuts don’t contain any unhealthy sugar, which is good news for dieters and diabetics alike. If you’re diabetic, or simply want to control your blood sugar, you should be getting plenty of monounsaturated fats, and hazelnuts are filled with them.
Studies have shown what type of impact hazelnuts can have on diabetic patients, finding that those who ate more were able to lower their cholesterol levels and lower their blood lipids. Doctors now suggest that diabetics should be eating hazelnuts (or other nuts found in trees) to manage their disease, while those that don’t have diabetes should still be eating them to reduce their chances thanks to the magnesium levels.
If you’ve read about some of the other great foods on our site, you may have seen us mention polyphenols. These are antioxidants that help your body fight off diseases and boost your immune system. Among the polyphenols are compounds called proanthocyanidins, which are found more commonly in hazelnuts than just about any other food. These are incredibly powerful antioxidants that are stronger than vitamins we often associate with immune boosting.
Because of these antioxidants, you can fight off anything from infections and the common cold to cancer. Hazelnuts also contain a solid amount of vitamin E, reducing inflammation that can lead to the growth of harmful cells. While we mainly think of fruits and vegetables as huge immune boosters, hazelnuts should certainly not go overlooked.
Not only do hazelnuts contain a lot of helpful vitamins and minerals, but you’ll also find omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential for your brain’s health, and have been linked with a large reduction in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Eating more hazelnuts in your diet can even help your day to day life, lowering your stress levels and signs of depression, even helping you to get to sleep at night. During the day, you can stay more alert and enhance your memory by eating hazelnuts, and it’s suggested that pregnant women eat them to increase the cognitive development of their children.
Summing it Up
Obviously there are two large components that you have to take into consideration with hazelnuts. The first is that many people are allergic to nuts altogether, so you’ll definitely want to stay away from hazelnuts if that’s the case. The other is the high calorie count in each serving. One ounce isn’t a very large amount, and people often find themselves eating much more than one ounce at a time. Be cautious, as one cup is well over 700 calories.
As long as you aren’t allergic and can contain your portion sizes of hazelnuts, they make for a tremendous addition to any diet. The taste, the availability and great health benefits all add up to hazelnuts being a tremendous food. With that said, just don’t go crazy with the amounts of hazelnuts and you’ll be good to go, while feeling better in the process!