I love it when the festive time arrives as Chestnuts become readily available in the supermarkets. I really feel Christmassy when I can go to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and get some sweet roasted chestnuts! This is an expensive way to eat them though!
They are so easy to roast at home and super nutritious to snack on during the day any time of the year. When it is not the festive holidays they can be bought cooked in vacuum packed bags or jars. I don’t recommend the candied / glace ones though – loaded with nasty sugar.
Chestnuts are, according to some researchers, probably one of the first foods eaten by men. There is a legend stating that in the Third Century B.C the Greek Army survived due to their stores of chestnuts during the retreat from Asia Minor.
Today there are four main species of chestnut known as Spanish / Sweet Chestnut, Chinese, American and Japanese. Chestnuts or Castanea, are actually a group of 8 or 9 species of shrubs and deciduous trees from the Fragaceae family, which is the same family as the beech and oak trees belong to. For this reason they are considered both a nut and a fruit.
MAIN HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHESTNUTS
Low in calories – 195 per 100 grams / Low in fat / Low in GI
Great source of Manganese – Boost bone health
One cup has 84 % of the RDA of Manganese.
The mineral Manganese is essential for normal cell function. It helps to control blood sugar, the thyroid and our metabolism.
43% of the body’s manganese is stored in our bones. So manganese, daily with other bone building minerals, such as Vit D, calcium, magnesium and boron, could prevent osteoporosis and keep bones strong.
The good levels of Copper in chestnuts will also boost bone health, nerve function and our immune system.
Manganese as an antioxidant also soaks up free radicals in our system, which otherwise would slow down our aging process, decrease our risk of cancer and heart diseases.
Excellent source of Fiber – Keeps you regular – Elevates constipation – improves digestion
100g gives 21% of RDA of fiber
Helps to keep us regular, lower cholesterol, balance our gut micobiome and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Rich in Vitamin C – Boost immune system
10 chestnuts give 36% of RDA of Vit C
Vit C stimulates the production of white blood cells and also acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing any free radicals in our body before the cause healthy cells to mutate and induce oxidative stress leading to diseases. This then means that our immune system is more vailable to focus on preventing illness.
Good levels of Potassium – Protect the heart
10 chestnuts give 14% of RDA of Potassium
Potassium helps to decrease risk factors of heart disease being a strong antioxidant and effectively lowering our blood pressure.
It also helps our body to manage stress, anxiety, enhances muscle strength, balances our electrolyes and prevents water retention along with kidney disorders.
Chestnuts with all their antioxidants and Vit B’s really do help to detoxify your body.
Diverse selection of Vit B – Improved brain function
Chestnuts have good amounts of thiamine, B6, riboflavin and folate especially.
All B vitamins regulate and control levels of homocystine preventing inflammation and damage to our blood vessels. They keep our brain healthy and protect against diseases including Alzheimer’s.
Low fat content – Weight control
Compared to all other nuts chestnuts are relatively low in calories and more starchy giving us sustained energy. They have less oil and fat that walnuts, macadamias etc so could help control our weight.
COOKING WITH CHESTNUTS
Chestnuts are super versatile and can be used in sweet and savory dishes.
I love using chestnut flour for baking everything and anything! It is gluten-free with a fabulous texture and natural sweetness.