Hazelnuts are not only a sweet and delicious fruit but also have nutritional properties that should not be underestimated. In addition to being one of the main ingredients of the famous Nutella, they also have beneficial effects on health
The hazelnut plant, scientific name Corylus avellana, is native to Asia minor and belongs to the Betalaceae family. The core can reach a height of 7 meters and grows spontaneously especially in countries with a Mediterranean climate.
That of hazelnuts is a very old plant, so that the Greeks and Romans already appreciated the therapeutic properties.
In Italy their cultivation is mainly located in a few regions: Piedmont, Sicily, Campania and Lazio. In Piedmont the variety called Tonda Gentile Trilobata is cultivated, to which the PGI mark has been attributed. This, thanks to strict production rules and a respective control body, guarantees its quality.
- Chemical Composition
- Free Radicals
Thanks to their properties, Piedmont hazelnuts are considered the best in the world. The oil which is extracted from this fruit is used as a base or carrier in medicine and aromatherapy.
|Chemical composition per 100 g of product|
Amino acids: aspartic acid and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, isoleucine, cystine, glycine, phenylalanine, histidine, leucine, lysine, proline, methionine, serine, tyrosine, tryptophan, valine and threonine.
The hazelnuts are a very caloric food, 100 grams have a yield equal to 628 kcal.
Hazelnuts: Properties and Benefits
They are characterized by good digestibility and a good content of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant capable of slowing down cellular aging and counteracting the action of free radicals.
These fruits also have the highest content of proanthocyanidins, a class of polyphenols with antioxidant activity. These compounds are also present in red wine , in cranberries in dark chocolate.
Scientific research has shown that proanthocyanidins have a greater antioxidant activity than other compounds. For example, their antioxidant power is greater than that of vitamins C and E.
Studies have also shown that these compounds are effective in slowing down aging and preventing disease. Proanthocyanidins have proven helpful in treating urinary tract infections. Here you can consult a study carried out on proanthocyanidins present in cranberries. Another study says that to benefit the maximum of the antioxidants present in the hazelnut, it is best to consume it with the peel that covers it. (1)
Recent studies have shown that the alpha-tocopherol of vitamin E contained in hazelnuts can significantly reduce the risk of bladder cancer. Recent studies suggest that vitamin E reduces the risk of prostate, breast, lung and colon cancer. (2)
There are other studies demonstrating manganese’s potential anticancer properties. A study published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry highlighted its anticancer potential for mitochondria. (3)
They are a very energetic food with a remineralizing effect. For this reason they are very suitable in convalescence states, for those who play sports or for those who have feelings of exhaustion, both physical and mental.
Also in this case manganese proves to be very important for increasing muscle strength. At the same time it helps to avoid cramps, pains and fatigue.
They Lower Cholesterol
Like all dried fruit, hazelnuts are a food very rich in fatty acids. Omega 6 and in particular Omega 3 which are usually present in fish. Furthermore, the oleic acid present in these fruits also contributes to the reduction of excess bad cholesterol.
All types of dried fruit have beneficial effects on the heart and hazelnuts are no exception. As we have just seen, the fibers and fatty acids present in this delicious fruit reduce bad cholesterol in the blood.
There are some studies published in the European Journal of Nutrition that demonstrate the beneficial properties of these delicious fruits. According to these studies, diets rich in nuts lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and positively affect blood fats. (4)
The American Heart Association recommends, for good heart health, to consume monounsaturated fats that are those present in hazelnut. ( 5 )
The B vitamins present are used throughout the body, in particular to bring benefits to the health of the nervous system. This is why hazelnuts relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
They are Good for the Brain
They contain flavonoids such as quercetin and kaempferol, these substances are known for their contribution to the proper functioning of the brain. They are also useful for decreasing the symptoms associated with allergies.
In a recent study, the neuro protective properties of these fruits were analyzed. The results suggest that their consumption has beneficial effects on aging, memory and anxiety. (6)
They are gluten-free and therefore suitable for people with celiac disease, gluten intolerant and people allergic to wheat. Thanks to copper, hazelnuts facilitate the absorption of iron and are therefore suitable for anemics.
Monounsaturated fats are an important component in the diet of diabetics. In addition to the health benefits, these fats also allow you to keep weight under control. This is a factor not to be overlooked for diabetes sufferers.
A study of 2015 published on the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows the effects of nut consumption in people with diabetes. The results found that in addition to lowering cholesterol, their consumption also reduced the percentage of fat in the blood. (7)
According to another study , the high levels of manganese in the fruit also improve sugar intolerance in diabetics. Further benefits also come from taking magnesium which appears to have preventive effects on diabetes. A support is a study of 2007 published in the US National Library of Medicine . (8, 9)
The leaves of the core are instead used in phytotherapy thanks to their purifying properties and for their anti-inflammatory, healing and astringent effect.
The hazelnuts are excellent for stimulating the metabolism. A study has shown that those who consume a lot of nuts lose more weight and see their metabolism increase. The thiamine, which helps convert carbohydrates into glucose, it is important to maintain the proper functioning of metabolism. (10)
Also the manganese appears to have an important role in weight loss. This its properties is due to its ability to stimulate the digestive enzymes.
Finally, the abundance of dietary fiber and fat increases the sense of satiety. This sensation prevents the intake of additional calories with beneficial effects on the line. ( 11 )
They Protect the Fetus
They are rich in folate. These substances protect unborn babies from neural tube defects and are therefore indicated as food for pregnant women.
The hazelnut oil is obtained by squeezing the seeds and is intended mainly for the cosmetic industry but also for the preparation of colors. Thanks to its properties soothing, invigorating and nourishing is very used for massage and facial care.
Some time ago an enormous illicit turnover was discovered concerning hazelnut oil. This was added to the finest extra virgin olive oil , with very high revenues for counterfeiters.
The hazelnut is a fruit sure that like other foods should not be consumed in doses excessive. However, some people may experience allergies to its components. In general, the allergic reaction occurs against tree pollen rather than fruit.
The symptoms of this allergy may include itching around the lips, tongue and throat. In subsequently, swelling of the lips and throat may also occur which may cause difficulty in breathing.
The hazelnuts when they are fresh, have a thin cuticle that covers that can be difficult to remove. To overcome this small inconvenience, you can put them in the oven for a few minutes to dry them.
Then they must be rubbed vigorously with a cloth, thus removing the skin easily.
The harvest is done in the autumn when they have reached full maturity and are easily detached from the plant.
The most valuable varieties , grown in Italy, are the red nocella, the white nocella and the gentle trilobata of the Langhe which, as we have seen before, has taken on the PGI mark. The latter is one of the basic ingredients of the famous Ferrero cream spread and known all over the world under the name Nutella.
The therapeutic properties of hazelnuts had already been highlighted by the Greek physician Dioscorides about 1,800 years ago. In his writings it was read that pounded and eaten with honey cured cough while, eaten with black pepper, they were a remedy for the cold.
The Celtic population considered the hazel a magical tree. Its seeds were often used in their religious rites to obtain the favors of the gods.
For their robustness and flexibility, the wood of the core is used to build the arches.
The famous Hazelnut witch is a Disney character, so probably called in reference to the magical properties conferred on hazelnuts in antiquity.
Maybe Not Everyone Knows That
The shell that contains the hazelnut is called pericarp, has a very hard consistency and is an excellent fuel. It can be used in new generation stoves which, in addition to using pellets, can also burn biomass.
Il più grande produttore di nocciole nel mondo è la Turchia, seguita dall’Italia e dagli Stati Uniti.
Hazelnuts: Properties and Benefits
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