Are hazelnuts good for you? They are a type of tree nut that belong to the genus Corylus, and have been consumed for centuries and are commonly used in a variety of culinary dishes.
Aside from their delicious taste, many people wonder if hazelnuts have any nutritional benefits and whether they are good for their health.
In this article, we will explore the potential health benefits of consuming hazelnuts and examine why they should be included in your diet.
What Are Hazelnuts?
Hazelnuts are small nuts that come from the hazel trees, often growing in clusters. They also go by the names cobnuts and filberts.
Hazelnuts are often encapsulated within a hard shell that must be cracked open. The nut is round in shape but pointed on one end.
They have a creamy, nutty, and sweet flavor but can be slightly bitter when eaten with the skin. Most people liken the taste to that of chocolate, although it tastes nothing like chocolate.
Hazelnuts are grown in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America. Turkey is, however, the largest producer, followed by Italy and the United States.
You can enjoy hazelnuts raw, roasted, or ground. Hazelnut oil is another product that you can easily incorporate into your cooking and baking.
Hazelnut Nutrition Facts
One ounce (28 grams) of hazelnuts offers approximately
- Calories: 177
- Total fat: 17 grams
- Protein: 4.2 grams
- Carbs: 4.7 grams
- Fiber: 2.7 grams
- Vitamin E: 4.2 milligrams, or 21% of the DV
- Thiamin: 0.2 miligrams, or 12% of the DV
- Magnesium: 12% of the DV
- Copper: 0.5 milligrams, or 24% of the DV
- Manganese: 1.7 milligrams, or 86% of the DV
- Magnesium: 45.6 milligrams, or 11%of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 0.2 milligram, or 8% of the DV
- Folate: 31.6 micrograms, or 8% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 81.2 milligrams, or 8% of the DV
- Iron: 1.3 milligrams, or 7% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 4 micrograms, or 5% of the DV
- Potassium: 190 milligrams, or 5% of the DV
- Zinc: 0.7 milligram, or 5% of the DV
Why Are Hazelnuts Good For You?
These nuts are an incredible source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Regular intake has been shown to boost numerous benefits, including fighting inflammation, fighting cancer, improving blood sugar control, and aiding weight loss.
Here are a few of the best benefits of eating hazelnuts:
1. Hazel nuts can boost brain health
Hazelnuts are a good source of vitamin E, which has been shown to boost cognitive functions by protecting the brain against oxidative stress.
Hazelnuts are also rich in monounsaturated fats, which are known for their ability to promote brain development and function. These fats also help improve memory retention and may even alleviate depression symptoms.
Additionally, these nuts contain magnesium which regulates neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation, such as serotonin, helping with anxiety disorders or depression.
Moreover, hazelnuts contain flavonoids such as quercetin, kaempferol, and proanthocyanidins which have been linked with reduced risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Furthermore, these flavonoids possess anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce brain inflammation- a factor associated with various neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.
2. They are high in antioxidants
Antioxidants are natural compounds in plant foods like nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables that help fight free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can easily react with other compounds in the body to produce cell-destructive chemicals. This can result in various health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Hazelnuts are a rich source of various antioxidants, including phenolic compounds, which have been shown to fight cancer, prevent inflammation, and reverse aging.
While most people may prefer roasted and skinned hazelnuts, hazelnut antioxidants are high in the skin. Research further shows that these antioxidants can reduce when roasted.
Therefore, it’s better to consume your nuts raw and with their skin. Even if you prefer the roasted version, leave the skin on.
3. They may fight inflammation
Inflammation is a natural response by the immune system to injury or infection. However, chronic inflammation can lead to various diseases, such as arthritis and heart disease. Hazelnuts contain several compounds that help combat inflammation, including:
Vitamin E: Hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce oxidative stress in the body. This stress can cause inflammation and cell damage, leading to chronic diseases.
Monounsaturated fats: Hazelnuts are also a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body.
Flavonoids: Hazelnuts contain flavonoids such as quercetin and kaempferol, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Flavonoids are plant compounds that have been linked to lower rates of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Magnesium: Magnesium is another nutrient in hazelnuts that can help fight inflammation. One study found that magnesium supplementation could reduce various inflammatory markers in the body, including C-reactive protein (CRP).
Moreover, a study on individuals with metabolic syndrome found that combining other nuts with hazelnuts for 12 weeks improved inflammatory markers compared to a control group.
4. Heart health benefits
Nuts are known for their numerous heart benefits, and hazelnuts are no different.
As I mentioned earlier, they are a good source of monounsaturated fats, which can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
A study conducted by the American Society for Nutrition found that tree-nut-rich diets, including hazelnuts, fought inflammation, reduced cholesterol levels, and improved overall lipid levels.
In a different study, people obtaining 18-20% of their daily calorie intake from hazelnuts for one month resulted in low inflammatory markers and reduced triglyceride and LDL levels.
Hazelnuts are also a good source of magnesium, which is thought to help protect against cardiovascular disease by relaxing blood vessels and reducing blood pressure.
In addition, the high antioxidant levels in hazelnuts can help to protect against cell damage and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
5. Hazelnuts may lower blood sugar
Hazelnuts are a good source of monounsaturated fats, fiber, and minerals such as magnesium and manganese.
They also contain phytochemicals, including quercetin and kaempferol, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. All of these nutrients may help lower blood sugar levels.
Hazelnuts are also a good source of oleic acid, which has been shown to protect against insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone that carries glucose from the blood into the cells, where it’s used for energy. However, in some cases, such as in type 2 diabetes, the cells are resistant to insulin, which can cause glucose accumulation in the blood.
The hazelnut’s ability to prevent insulin resistance can help promote glucose uptake by the cells, which can boost glucose levels in people with diabetes or lower the risk of developing it.
6. Hazelnuts may prevent cancer
Compared to other nuts, hazelnuts are a very rich source of proanthocyanidins, a powerful group of antioxidants that have been shown to protect the body against inflammation and oxidative stress that can cause cancer according to lab studies. More human studies are, however, needed to prove these benefits.
Hazelnuts are also a good source of vitamin E, which has been shown to protect against various types of cancer, including breast, colon, and prostate cancer.
Vitamin E can fight oxidative stress, inhibit carcinogenesis, stimulate cancer cell death, and prevent tumor growth.
In one Meta-analysis, of 12 studies with over 150,000 participants, vitamin E was shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer and was thus recommended as a preventative measure in men with increased risk for prostate cancer.
In addition to fighting prostate cancer, various lab studies show that hazelnut extract could fight against breast, liver, cervical, and colon cancer.
7. Weight management
Another benefit of eating hazelnuts is that they can help you lose weight due to their high fiber content. Fiber helps us feel fuller for longer periods of time, which can lead to reduced calorie intake overall.
Additionally, the healthy fats found in hazelnuts have been linked to increased satiety, which again will cause you to eat less but still feel satisfied.
In addition, hazelnuts contain thiamine, which plays an important function in maintaining a healthy metabolism by converting carbs into glucose, your main energy source.
However, consuming too many hazelnuts may lead to weight gain due to their high-calorie count. A single serving of 1 oz (28 grams) contains about 177 calories – that’s quite a lot for such a small amount!
If you’re not careful with your portion sizes or eat them as snacks throughout the day without accounting for their caloric value, you could easily exceed your daily calorie needs.
That said, there’s no need to avoid hazelnuts altogether if you’re trying to lose weight; just be mindful of how much you eat.
Try incorporating them into meals as a garnish or ingredient rather than snacking on them by themselves. You can also keep track of portions if eating them for a snack.
8. Hazelnuts can boost healthy hair and skin
Hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that helps protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E also helps keep the skin hydrated and can improve the appearance of skin tone.
In addition to vitamin E, hazelnuts are also a good source of biotin, which is essential for healthy hair growth. Biotin deficiency can lead to hair loss, so including hazelnuts in your diet can help to prevent this.
9. They can promote a healthy digestive system
Hazelnuts contain high amounts of dietary fiber, which is essential for maintaining good gut health. Fiber helps promote regular bowel movements and prevents constipation by adding bulk to the stool. It also feeds the friendly bacteria in our gut, promoting the growth of beneficial microorganisms.
Hazelnuts are loaded with antioxidants like vitamin E and flavonoids that help reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation can lead to various digestive issues like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Possible Risks or Concerns with Consuming Hazelnuts
While we’ve seen various reasons as to why are hazelnuts good for you, there’re a few things to keep in mind:
1. Allergies to tree nuts
While most people can enjoy hazelnuts without a problem, tree nut allergies, including hazelnut allergies, are quite common among sensitive individuals.
According to studies, hazelnut allergies also tend to be severe and potentially life-threatening. They are often common in people with hay fever or tree pollen allergy.
Common symptoms may include swelling, itching, and a burning sensation in the mouth and throat after ingesting hazelnuts or hazelnut-containing products.
In severe cases, one can develop anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction with various symptoms including shortness of breath, wheezing, and rapid and difficult breathing.
2. High-calorie content
While hazelnuts are healthy and a great addition to any diet, they can be quite high in calories, which can hinder your weight loss efforts.
Even though most of these calories are due to their fat content, it’s still good to consume them in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
3. Digestive issues
When it comes to your digestive system, more is not necessarily better. Eat too many hazelnuts, and you may start to experience digestive discomfort, including bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.
While hazelnuts are a good source of fiber, they contain natural plant compounds like phytates and tannins, which can be difficult to digest when taken in high amounts.
If you find yourself experiencing digestive discomfort after eating hazelnuts, it’s best to cut back on your intake.
Remember, everyone’s tolerance for hazelnuts (and other foods) is different, so pay attention to your body and how it reacts to what you eat.
How to Incorporate Hazelnuts into Your Diet:
Here are some ideas on how to incorporate them into your meals and snacks:
- Add hazelnuts to your morning oatmeal or yogurt
- Top your salad with hazelnuts for a crunchy addition
- Make a homemade trail mix with hazelnuts, dried fruit, and seeds
- Spread some hazelnut butter on whole-grain toast for a nutritious snack
- Chop up hazelnuts and add them to roasted vegetables
- Use hazelnut flour to make healthy pancakes or muffins
- Include hazelnuts in homemade energy bars or granola recipes
Hazelnuts are a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants that offer numerous health benefits.
Regular consumption of hazelnuts can help improve heart health, reduce inflammation in the body, enhance brain function, and promote weight loss.
However, they should be consumed in moderation as they are high in calories and can lead to weight gain if eaten excessively.
Overall, adding hazelnuts to your daily diet is an easy way to boost your nutrient intake and improve your overall health and well-being.
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