Barely unheard of in the United States but prevalent in leaner nations like Japan and Korea, chestnuts are a dieter’s mainstay, a holiday treat and a Godsend to the average health nut.
Chestnuts are eaten raw as a crunchy snack, roasted or heated for a softer texture. The nutty flavor reminds you of corn. These nuts are often used in Italian entrees, but also work well in desserts, main courses and side dishes around the world.
Inside the Chestnut
Chestnuts contain a hefty dose of water, vitamin C and potassium, as well as a little protein, dietary fiber, iron, folate, and natural sugars. Chestnuts are also cholesterol free, with only about 1/6 of the fat found in the average nut. They are, however, quite starchy and almost half full of complex carbohydrates. Chestnuts are referred to as fruits and nuts.
What’s So Good About Chestnuts?
Cancer Contender – Chestnuts contain trace amounts of fiber and folate and a good amount of vitamin C, which all play a role in punching out cancer – in particular, stomach, colon, breast and bladder cancers. Fiber is a cleanser of toxins, while vitamin C builds the immune system to keep those defenses up when cancer is present.
Heart Helper – Low in fat and containing the good kind of fat too (monounsaturated), chestnuts keep cholesterol levels in check by reducing bad cholesterol and total cholesterol and maintaining the good cholesterol that’s already present. Cholesterol is nothing to play with, because it’s what causes the fatty plaque buildup in your blood and arteries that can eventually cause clots, high blood pressure, respiratory distress, heart attack, or stroke.
The chestnut is one type of nut that you can eat quite a bit of and not have to worry about fat nor cholesterol, because fat is virtually nonexistent and chestnuts contain no cholesterol.
Weight Watcher – Again, chestnuts have hardly any fat, unlike most nuts. They also contain quite a bit of water. As a result, chestnuts are an excellent snacking option that will satisfy your hunger, provide some hydration, and help keep your weight under control. At just 300 calories per cup, your weight loss goals won’t be thrown off course by snacking on these babies.
They are naturally sweet, crunchy and appetizing too, so you will enjoy munching on them. Also, because chestnuts contain lots of complex carbohydrates, the sugar content is released slower into the bloodstream so your blood sugar won’t spike; and digestion is a little slower so you’ll feel fuller longer.
Judging by “The Christmas Song,” Nat King Cole likely had his share of chestnuts at Christmastime. Chestnuts are great served warm, so next time Jack Frost is “nipping at your nose,” serve up some roasted chestnuts and snack away.