Chestnuts are edible nuts (although typically a fruit) produced by the shrubs and trees of deciduous trees in the beech family, which grow in Asia, Europe, and North America. In this article, we will explore chestnut benefits.
There are various types of chestnuts, but they all have similar qualities. The common types include Chinese chestnut, American chestnut, Korean or Japanese chestnut, and European chestnut also known as Spanish chestnut or sweet chestnut.
However, the European chestnut is the most common type and the most popular in grocery stores.
Chestnuts have a smooth, shiny, dark brown shell and grow in clusters of up to 7 nuts enclosed inside spiny husks, both of which must be removed before eating.
They can be eaten raw, roasted, or cooked in various dishes, including soups, salads, toppings, stuffings, and many more. They can also be ground into flour and be used for baking. Raw chestnuts are slightly bitter, while roasted or cooked ones are sweet, soft, and buttery.
Chestnuts are rich in various nutrients, including antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
This article gives you in-depth benefits of consuming chestnuts.
Chestnut Benefits for Health
1. They promote digestion
Your digestive system is responsible for breaking down food and extracting nutrients from food that your body needs to function. If your digestive system is working properly, you’ll be able to digest food, eliminate waste products efficiently, and keep your immune system functioning at its best.
There are several factors that can impact your digestion, including diet, lifestyle choices, and health conditions. However, one of the most important things you can do for your digestive system is to eat a balanced diet that includes foods high in fiber and nutrients, such as chestnuts.
Chestnuts are a great source of fiber which is important for digestion. Fiber can help promote better digestion by preventing constipation, maintaining healthy bowel movements, and acting like prebiotics to help feed the good gut bacteria. In addition, chestnuts contain trace minerals such as magnesium and potassium, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels and maintain healthy nerve function.
If you’re looking to improve your digestive health overall, adding chestnuts to your diet is a great way to start.
2. They are rich in anti-inflammatory properties
According to several studies, chestnut extract can reduce levels of prostaglandin E2, which is a fatty acid involved in inflammation. Inflammation is an immune system response that occurs when you get hurt or get sick. When you have a cut or are fighting off an infection, your body sends white blood cells and other molecules to heal it. The resulting swelling and redness are signs that your body is responding appropriately to injuries or illnesses. Prostaglandin E2 helps facilitate these inflammatory responses.
However, too much prostaglandin E2 could lead to chronic inflammation, which has been linked to heart disease and cancer. Eating chestnuts may help prevent chronic inflammation by reducing prostaglandin E2 levels in your body. In fact, one study found that consuming 30 grams of dried chestnuts per day led to a 20 percent reduction in inflammation markers over 12 weeks.
In addition, eating roasted unsalted chestnuts daily for six weeks significantly reduced C-reactive protein (CRP), another marker for inflammation, according to Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
3. They are good for your heart
Chestnuts are rich in nutrients that have been shown to promote heart health.
For example, they are a good source of potassium, with 10 kernels ( 84grams) of roasted chestnuts providing up to 11 percent of your daily potassium requirements.
Potassium is an essential nutrient that keeps the heart healthy by keeping the heart rhythm steady, relaxing the blood vessel walls causing blood pressure to fall, and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
According to research, potassium-rich diets can boost heart health and lower the risk of stroke by 24 percent and heart disease by 27 percent.
They are also high in antioxidants like ellagic acid and gallic, which have been shown to neutralize free radicals and protect the heart against oxidative stress, which increases your risk of cardiovascular conditions. Best Foods For Heart Health and Vitamins For Heart Health.
4. May promote proper blood glucose regulation
Uncontrolled blood sugar levels may increase your risk of developing insulin resistance, obesity, and type 2 diabetes or increase its complications if you already have a diagnosis.
High-fiber foods like chestnuts may help balance blood sugar by ensuring the body slowly absorbs the carbohydrates in the nuts. This helps prevent glucose spikes that may be dangerous, especially in diabetes.
If wondering how much fiber is present in chestnuts, 10 kernels of roasted chestnuts contain 4.3 grams, which is approximately15 percent of your daily fiber requirement. This can significantly boost your fiber intake in addition to other fiber-rich foods.
The antioxidants ellagic and gallic in chestnuts have also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and promote glucose uptake by the cells, thus regulating glucose levels.
However, keep in mind that, like other nuts, chestnuts may be high in calories, so always consume them in moderation. Best Foods To Lower And Regulate Blood Sugar.
5. It’s rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals in the body that may cause oxidative stress and cell damage leading to disease formation such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Chestnuts offer an incredible amount of antioxidants, including lutein, tannins, alkaloids, gallic acid, and ellagic acid. There are different antioxidants that can be obtained from other kinds of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Incorporating chestnuts with these foods will help lower the risk of disease and promote health and wellbeing.
6. Supports brain health
Chestnuts are rich in several B vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6, and folate. These vitamins play an essential role in promoting brain health and protecting against cognitive disorders.
In one study, increased intake of B vitamins was associated with improved cognitive functions in elderly patients with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment.
In a different study, a one-year supplementation of folic acid in elderly participants reduced inflammatory markers and improved cognitive performance.
Including one or two servings of chestnuts in addition to other protein-rich healthy foods will help promote your vitamin B intake, and of course, promote brain health. Vegan Brain Booster Foods.
7. May boost bone health
Chestnuts are rich in manganese, an important mineral that plays a central role in bone health, including increased bone density and strength. Manganese also promotes bone metabolism and is a co-factor for various enzymes involved in bone formation.
A deficiency may result in weak and brittle bones predisposing you to osteoporosis, easy fractures, and osteoarthritis, among other bone conditions.
Combining manganese with other bone-building minerals can help support bone health even more.
In one study, a supplement containing manganese along with zinc, calcium, magnesium, boron, and vitam9n D was shown to promote bone density in women with weak bones.
Consuming 10 kernels of chestnuts a day can provide up to 43 percent of your daily manganese requirements. 9 Ways to Improve Bone Health Naturally.
8. May aid weight loss
The high fiber content in chestnuts may keep you full longer by slowing the time it takes for food to empty from the stomach into the intestines. The fiber may also promote the production of enzymes that can curb your appetite while suppressing the hunger hormone ghrelin.
In addition, chestnuts may potentially lower cholesterol and belly fat. However, more human studies are needed to confirm these potential benefits. The Best Diet For Weight Loss, What Makes You Gain Weight?
9. Promotes joint health
A diet rich in chestnuts provides ample amounts of antioxidants, including quercetin, a flavonoid that has been shown to help slow cartilage deterioration. The high arginine content found in chestnuts also serves as an anti-inflammatory, while selenium helps ward off arthritis and other degenerative diseases.
Chestnuts are also rich in vitamin C which plays an important role in collagen production. Collagen is essential for maintaining strong and healthy joints. Vitamin C is also a natural antioxidant that has been shown to help promote joint health by protecting the cells against damage, fighting inflammation, and reducing pain and swelling. In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, supplementing elderly adults with vitamin C improved joint function by up to 34%.
In another study published in the American Journal of Nutrition, participants who took supplements containing 500 milligrams of vitamin C every day showed significant improvement in their joint pain scores and physical function compared to those who did not take supplements.
Additionally, clinical studies have shown that supplemental vitamin C not only reduces the risk of joint damage but also slows the progression of osteoarthritis.
For healthy joints, consume chestnuts daily. They’re tasty when eaten on their own or added to oatmeal or rice. If you don’t have time for roasting, simply toss them into your next stir-fry.
10. Chestnuts can lower cholesterol
Cholesterol is a lipid, or fat substance, found in every cell of your body. Its job is to help build cells, making sure they are healthy. However, high cholesterol levels may increase your risk of developing various health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, heart attack, and liver damage, among others.
One way that chestnuts may help lower cholesterol is through their high level of pectin.
Pectin is a type of fiber that can bind to cholesterol and other harmful substances in the body, leading to their removal.
According to one study, people who ate two ounces (56 grams) of chestnuts per day had significantly lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) than those who didn’t eat chestnuts.
The researchers believe that the pectin content in chestnuts is responsible for this effect. However, it’s important to note that not everyone who eats chestnuts will see benefits like this, especially if your diet and lifestyle are generally poor.
11. They can fight cancer
Chestnuts are a great source of antioxidants, and according to several studies, they may be helpful in fighting cancer. In one study, scientists found that people who ate a lot of chestnuts had a lower risk of developing lung cancer. Another study found that chestnuts can help reduce the amount of DNA damage caused by cancer cells.
Also, chestnuts are a good source of chromium, a mineral that helps fight cancer. A study published in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” found that chromium helped prevent the growth of cancer cells in lab tests. In addition, another study published in “Food Science and Technology” found that chromium improved the effectiveness of chemotherapy against ovarian cancer cells.
12. Promotes body detoxification
Detoxification is a process that takes place in our bodies to remove chemicals, toxins, and dead cells. Chestnuts are known for their purifying properties, especially in liver detoxification.
In fact, chestnut extracts have been used since ancient times as a cure for jaundice and other symptoms associated with liver malfunctioning. One study proved that regular consumption of whole chestnut extracts by people affected by hepatitis significantly increased their survival rate.
Risks and Side Effects
Unlike other nuts such as peanuts, chestnut allergies are pretty rare. However, if you have allergies to other nuts, you may want to avoid chestnuts.
Or if you experience swelling, itching, redness, wheezing, or swelling after eating chestnuts, you could be having an allergy, so discontinue use and consult your doctor immediately.
Chestnuts are flavorful nuts with numerous health benefits, including boosting your fiber and antioxidant intake, promoting heart health, aiding weight loss, increasing brain function, improving digestion, controlling blood glucose levels, and strengthening bones.
However, if you have nut allergies, chestnuts may not be a good option for you. Also, if you experience any signs of allergies, discontinue and seek medical attention.
Also, remember that chestnuts may be high in calories, so always consume them in moderation.
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