Chestnuts are a fruit loved by all and lend themselves to various types of cooking. In addition to having a good nourishing power, they also have therapeutic properties that we will now see
The chestnuts are a fruit with discrete nutritional properties, the tree that produces them is the Castanea sativa, a plant belonging to the Fagaceae family.
The chestnuts are a very versatile food and can be consumed in various ways: roasted on the fire, boiled, baked and dry. They are appreciated all over the world for their unique flavor and also for their wealth of nutrients. ( 1 )
The decoction obtained from the leaves of the plant has been widely used, in folk medicine, for the treatment of various respiratory diseases such as asthma, coughs, colds, bronchitis, expectoration and bronchial affections.
- Chemical Composition
- Intestinal Regularity
- Roasted Chestnuts
The chestnut, in ancient times, have been a valuable source of food for many people, especially for China, Japan, Korea and the Mediterranean area.
The plant is very long-lived and can easily reach 30-35 meters in height. No later than a few decades ago chestnuts represented the basis of the daily diet of mountain populations. A follow-up, with the arrival of well-being, their use has been greatly reduced in favor of more refined products.
The chestnuts provide high levels of dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, compounds antioxidants ,beneficial fats and other important constituents that are part of a healthy diet. They are particularly rich in polyphenols, bioactive compounds present in plants, which have beneficial effects on our health. With about 1.215 mg / 100 g, these fruits have the highest content of polyphenols than other foods. ( 2 )
Amino acids: aspartic acid and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, glycine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, histidine, leucine, lysine, proline, methionine, serine, tyrosine, tryptophan, valine and threonine.
Considering 100 grams of fresh chestnuts the caloric intake is equal to 196 kcal. If instead we take into consideration the boiled ones the calories go down to 130, the roast chestnuts 190 and the dry ones 290.
Chestnuts: Properties and Benefits
The chestnuts do not contain gluten and are therefore consumable by all people affected by celiac disease.
Studies tell us that chestnuts contain antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and improve heart health. They have a good potassium content which, according to a 2013 study, could lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke by 24%. ( 3, 4 )
The chestnut is a known source of bioactive phenolic compounds, in particular of tannins. Several studies indicate that these have anti-atherogenic, anti-thrombotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic properties and antioxidant activity. ( 5, 6 )
Proanthocyanidins (condensed tannins), classified into different subgroups, are important components of food and are abundant in red wine, green tea and chocolate. ( 7 ) Those obtained from grape seeds have been extensively studied for their ability to reduce cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and peripheral vascular risk. Proanthocyanidins, together with resveratrol, have recently been shown to be responsible for the cardioprotective effect of red wine. ( 8, 9 )
The cardioprotective properties of proanthocyanidins have been attributed to their strong antioxidant activity and their ability to relax blood vessels. ( 10 )
Rich in Minerals
The potassium is useful to strengthen the muscles, the phosphorus collaborates to the constitution of the nervous tissue, the sulfur is an antiseptic and disinfectant, the sodium is useful to digestion, the magnesium acts on nerve regeneration.
Being rich in minerals, chestnuts are particularly suitable for those suffering from chronic fatigue, for those who need to regain their strength after the flu and for children and the elderly.
The chestnuts have a high content of vitamins B group that are essential for the proper functioning of the brain. According to scientific research, vitamin B1 deficiency can lead to delirium. The lack of folate and vitamin B12 on the other hand can compromise brain development. ( 11, 12 )
One 2016 study found that folic acid supplementation for one year has improved the cognitive function in the elderly. ( 13 )
Another study in 2014 found that the increase in vitamin B intake improves cognitive function in elderly people with Alzheimer. ( 14 )
In a recent Italian study, chestnut bark extract could be a valid support as a food supplement, combining beneficial neuroprotective effects with high antioxidant activity. ( 15 )
They are a fruit rich in vitamin C that we know have antioxidant properties very useful for the health of the organism. The vitamin C is also very useful for the formation of collagen, a protein responsible for the elasticity of our tissues, skin in particular. Greater collagen production is equivalent to more elastic skin, less wrinkles and therefore a more youthful appearance. ( 16, 17 )
A 2011 study found that chestnut extract causes death by apoptosis of gastric tumor cells. The study also reported beneficial effects on prostate and breast cancer. The best results, however, are those related to gastric cancer. ( 18 )
A recent Italian study suggests that the chestnut’s bark extract could be considered an interesting anticancer agent. Its activity in fact induces apoptosis in tumor cells without cytotoxic effects on healthy cells. ( 19 )
Nowadays, polyphenols have received considerable interest due to their therapeutic properties. Indeed, there is evidence indicating the biological effects of polyphenols on the prevention of various diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and tumors. ( 20 )
Numerous epidemiological studies have shown that polyphenols inhibit or attenuate the onset, progression and spread of different types of cancer. ( 21 ) Numerous studies have shown the presence in the waste of chestnuts of compounds with beneficial properties on health and human well-being. ( 22 )
The analysis of chestnut leaves, flowers, skins and fruits highlighted the presence of phenolic bioactive molecules, characterized by a good antioxidant activity. ( 23 ) The advantages of polyphenols as anticancer agents are their high accessibility, low toxicity and specificity of the biological response. ( 24 )
Don’t get Fat
Because of these nutritional properties one might think that this fruit is a food that makes you fat, but in reality the chestnut contains little fat, a lot of water and its caloric intake is not very high. For these reasons chestnuts can be introduced into our diet without problems as regards weight control.
The chestnuts are a good source of dietary fiber which limits the absorption of cholesterol in excess intestine. In this way it reduces blood levels with consequent health benefits.
A very recent Chinese study suggests that adequate dietary fiber intake increases levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and decreases bad cholesterol (LDL). ( 25 )
A US study found that fiber consumption at or above 22 g per day is associated with lower total and LDL cholesterol levels. ( 26 )
In addition to dietary fiber also monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid and palmitoleic acid help to lower cholesterol bad LDL and raise the levels of the good HDL. A diet rich in fiber, antioxidants and fatty acids helps prevent heart-related diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.
These autumn fruits have a good content of manganese which for about 43% is stored in the bones. Some studies suggest that taking manganese in combination with other minerals could help prevent bone loss, especially in older women. ( 27 )
Not everyone knows it but dietary fiber plays an important role in the prevention and management of diabetes. Foods with a high dietary fiber content have a low glycemic index. This means that the consumption of chestnuts causes a slow release of sugar in the blood.
This helps to avoid glycemic peaks that can be dangerous for people with diabetes. The blood sugar spikes are also a precursor signal in people who still do not have diabetes.
A study by the National University of Health Sciences in Illinois suggests that those who consume the highest amounts of dietary fiber may benefit from a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. ( 29 )
A British study shows an association between high intake of dietary fiber ( > 25 g per day in women and > 38 g per day in men) with a reduced risk of 20-30% developing type 2 diabetes. ( 30 )
These results are confirmed by a very recent Chinese study which states that soluble fiber reduces the risk of developing diabetes and may have therapeutic effects in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. ( 31 )
Thanks to the good fiber content, these autumn fruits are a valid aid for digestion. Their consumption improves intestinal motility, preventing inflammation and other problems. The benefits also extend towards the absorption of nutrients which is improved .
A study published in the journal Food Microbiology found that chestnut extract has beneficial effects on the prebiotics present in the gastrointestinal tract. Prebiotics are good bacteria that help keep the intestine healthy and improve digestion. ( 32 )
When we eat dietary fiber this is not digested and therefore reaches the feces, facilitating its passage through the body. This mechanism is useful for fighting constipation .
A 2012 study examined the effects of dietary fiber in our bodies. Test results confirmed that increasing fiber intake increases stool frequency. ( 33 )
The thyroid is the largest endocrine gland in our body. This gland controls different body functions related to hormones, so it is very important for health. The ellagic acid contained in the chestnut helps to support the thyroid function.
Roasted with the Microwave
For those who still do not know it, chestnuts can be cooked with the microwave and thus obtain a cooking very similar to that from which the roasted chestnuts are obtained.
To achieve this, however, it is necessary to have a microwave oven equipped with at least a grill, even better if it is a crisp plate.
The thing to which we must pay more attention are the cuts that are made on the chestnuts before cooking them. For each chestnut two or three incisions must be made, in a firm and profound way. This is to prevent them from literally “dirtying” the inside of the oven during cooking. In fact, the type of microwave cooking accentuates the possibility that these may explode.
As regards the adjustment of the cooking power, it is advisable to proceed with the combined microwave-grill cooking and to set the microwave to medium-high power.
If, on the other hand, you have a microwave oven with a crisp plate you can watch how to make roast chestnuts with the crisp plate .
Variety of Chestnuts
The distinction between chestnuts and chestnuts is not always easy. We can say that chestnuts are the fruit of the wild plant while chestnuts are the fruit of cultivated chestnut trees.
Because of the high starch content, if the chestnuts are not cooked well, their digestion can be difficult. In general, their consumption is not recommended for those suffering from colitis, aerophagia, diabetes, obesity and liver-related diseases.
To discard the bad ones right away, you can soak them in water for about an hour, those that come to the surface can be discarded as they are surely “failed”.
In the noble old days they used to preserve the chestnut after being boiled in white wine.
To lighten skin blemishes, it is advisable to boil them and to crush them as for mashed potatoes, then adding some lemon juice. Apply everything on the stains for about twenty minutes.
There are two types of dried chestnuts: a soft one that can be consumed immediately and a hard one that needs to be soaked for about half an hour before being consumed.
Maybe not Everyone Knows That
These fruits do not contain gluten so they can also be consumed by celiacs.
The wood of the chestnut, is compact and elastic, thanks to these properties is used in the construction of barrels and poles.
Chestnut cooking water can be used on blonde hair after washing to enhance its reflections.
The infusion of chestnut leaves is excellent for gargling in case of inflammation of the throat and mouth.
With chestnuts, an excellent flour is prepared which can be used to prepare bread, donuts, polenta, pancakes and cakes.
Good copper content can help prevent premature graying of hair.
Chestnuts: Properties and Benefits
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