Home Ed. 2019 December Chestnuts: Is it a junk or health food?

Chestnuts: Is it a junk or health food?

“CHESTNUTS ROASTING ON AN OPEN FIRE”. . .as the song goes making it a part of christmas.


Chestnut, (genus Castanea), ge-nus of seven species of deciduous treesin the beech family (Fagace-ae), native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The burlike fruits contain edible nuts and several species are cultivated as ornamental and timber trees. Some members of the genus are known as chinquapins, which is also a common name for trees in the related genus Castanopsis.

Chestnut Nutrition

Chestnuts contain twice as much starch as potatoes, but unlike other nuts, are relatively low in fat. High in ?ber and vitamin C, chestnuts also contain a day’s worth of selenium in one nut. Legend has it that the Greek army survived on their stores of chestnuts during their retreat from Asia Minor in 401-399 B.C. The Japanese began cultivating chestnuts even before they began growing rice.

Chestnut Trees

Highly valued chestnut lumber resembles its cousin, the oak, in both color and texture. In colonial times, the rot-resistant wood and the edible nuts contributed to the burgeoning American economy. Also known for their tanning properties, the trees can live for 1,000 years and usually do not begin to produce fruit until they reach 40 years old.

The health benefits of chestnuts

Chestnuts are a unique fruit of the Castanea species of deciduous trees. This fruit is most common in Asia though it has also been linked to the tradition-al Italian cuisine for centuries. Chestnuts are appreciated for their characteristic taste and for the ductility with which they can be consumed: boiled, roasted, and dried, or in the form of jam or ?our. They are also excellent sources of vitamins and minerals (such as manganese, molybdenum, cooper and magnesium).

What are the nutrition-al value and the health bene?ts of chestnuts?
• Digestive health – chestnuts reduce cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar levels. They also reduce the risk of constipation and intestinal complications such as diverticulosis.
• Increased brain function – chestnuts contain fatsoluble B vitamins that promote healthy skin, produce red blood cells and improve brain function.
• Increased energy levels – chestnuts contain high amounts of carbohydrates, which are needed for short and long term energy. They also help with nervous system function.
• Stronger bones – chestnuts contain copper, which is a trace mineral that enhances bone strength and boosts the immune system.
• Decreased risk of developing disease – chestnuts contain manganese, which is a trace mineral that ?ghts off free radicals in the body and reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer. It also plays a key role in the aging process and helps prevent blood-clotting.
• Do not contain glu-ten – chestnuts are of great bene?t to patients with ce-liac disease, which is a disease that upsets the small intestine.

Some nutritional facts about chestnuts

Sabrina Oggionni, Dietitian at Humanitas Gavazzeni, provides some insight on the health bene?ts of chestnuts and individuals for whom consumption is recommended.

“Chestnuts are a part of the fruit group and some individuals classify them as dried fruit. However, in comparison to nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, etc), they have a low fat content. Chestnuts have certain nutrition-al characteristics similar to those of cereals. Even though they do not contain gluten, they do have a high content of sugars, especially starch. Chestnuts are rich in ?ber, as well as mineral salts such as potassium, phosphorus, and small quantities of iron. Lastly, they contain vitamins B2 and E. It is important to remember that the energy and nutritional characteristics of chestnuts are different from that of the remaining group of fresh fruits.”

while they are being cooked.”