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Health Benefits of Hazelnuts

by Heaui

Hazelnuts are a popular nut that is enjoyed all around the world for their rich flavor and texture. Hazelnuts are not only delicious but packed with essential nutrients that offer several health benefits. Hazelnuts are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats that make them a valuable addition to any diet.

Hazelnuts are a good source of dietary fiber, protein, and healthy fats. They are also rich in vitamin E, which is essential for healthy skin, hair, and eyes. Hazelnuts are also a good source of magnesium, which is important for bone health, and potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure. Hazelnuts have been linked to several health benefits, including improved heart health, better brain function, and reduced risk of certain cancers.

Hazelnuts can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, from snacking on them raw to incorporating them into delicious dishes. In this article, we will explore the health benefits of hazelnuts and provide some tasty recipes that incorporate these nutritious nuts.

Nutritional Profile of Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are a nutrient-dense food that provides a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals. One ounce (28 grams) of hazelnuts contains:

  • Calories: 176
  • Protein: 4.2 grams
  • Fat: 17 grams (mostly unsaturated)
  • Carbohydrates: 4.7 grams
  • Fiber: 2.7 grams
  • Vitamin E: 21% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Thiamine (B1): 12% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 12% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 9% of the RDI
  • Copper: 24% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 87% of the RDI

Hazelnuts are also a good source of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease. They are also rich in antioxidants, which can help protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation.

Hazelnuts are also low in carbohydrates, making them a good option for people following a low-carb or ketogenic diet. The fiber in hazelnuts can also help promote feelings of fullness and reduce hunger, making them a great snack option for weight loss.

Cardiovascular Health Benefits

Hazelnuts are a great source of heart-healthy nutrients. They contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Reducing Cholesterol Levels

Studies have found that hazelnuts can help reduce cholesterol levels. Hazelnuts are rich in healthy fats, which can help lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and increase good cholesterol levels (HDL).

In addition, hazelnuts contain phytosterols, which are plant compounds that have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming 2 ounces of hazelnuts daily for four weeks resulted in a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol levels.

Improving Blood Pressure

Hazelnuts are also beneficial for improving blood pressure. They are rich in potassium, a mineral that is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension, consuming a diet rich in potassium can help reduce blood pressure levels. Hazelnuts are also a good source of magnesium, which has been shown to lower blood pressure levels.

Antioxidant Properties and Skin Health

Hazelnuts are a great source of antioxidants, which are essential for preventing and repairing damage to cells caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause oxidative stress, which can lead to various diseases and premature aging. The antioxidants in hazelnuts can help combat oxidative stress and protect the body from damage.

Combatting Oxidative Stress

The antioxidant properties of hazelnuts are due to the presence of compounds such as vitamin E, phenolic acids, and flavonoids. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, hazelnuts contain high levels of antioxidants, which are comparable to those found in other nuts such as walnuts and almonds. The study also found that roasting hazelnuts increased their antioxidant activity.

Promoting Healthy Skin

Hazelnuts can also promote healthy skin due to their high content of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect the skin from damage caused by UV radiation and environmental pollutants. It also helps to moisturize the skin and improve its elasticity. Hazelnuts can be incorporated into the diet as a snack or used in various dishes to reap the benefits of vitamin E.

In addition to vitamin E, hazelnuts also contain other nutrients that are important for skin health, such as copper and manganese. Copper is essential for the production of collagen, a protein that gives skin its elasticity. Manganese is involved in the production of collagen as well as the formation of connective tissue.

Weight Management and Dietary Fiber

Hazelnuts can be a great addition to a healthy diet, especially for those looking to manage their weight. Hazelnuts are high in dietary fiber, which can help people feel fuller for longer periods of time, leading to reduced calorie intake throughout the day.

According to WebMD, a 1-ounce serving of hazelnuts contains 2.7 grams of dietary fiber. This is about 11% of the daily recommended intake of fiber for women and 7% for men. Hazelnuts are also low in carbohydrates, making them a great snack for those following a low-carb diet.

In addition to supporting weight management, dietary fiber also has other health benefits. It can help regulate bowel movements, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Hazelnuts are also a good source of healthy fats, protein, and various vitamins and minerals.

There are many ways to incorporate hazelnuts into your diet. They can be eaten raw as a snack, added to salads, or used in baking. Hazelnuts can also be ground into a paste, which can be used as a spread or added to smoothies for extra flavor and nutrition.

Hazelnut Allergies and Considerations

Hazelnuts are a delicious and nutritious food that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. However, it is important to note that some people may be allergic to hazelnuts.

According to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, hazelnuts are the main culprit of nut allergy in Europe, while walnut and cashew are more common in the USA [1]. The estimated prevalence of hazelnut allergy in Italy and Europe is around 0.2%, while the estimated pediatric prevalence of hazelnut allergy in the USA is 0.5% [2].

Symptoms of hazelnut allergy can range from mild to severe and may include nasal congestion or runny nose, wheezing or coughing, itching of the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, or any other area, and hives [3]. In some cases, hazelnut allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention.

If you have a hazelnut allergy, it is important to avoid hazelnuts and foods that contain them. Hazelnuts can be found in a variety of foods, including baked goods, chocolate, and spreads like Nutella. Always read food labels carefully and ask about ingredients when eating out.

It is also important to note that hazelnuts are often processed in facilities that also process other nuts, so cross-contamination can occur. If you have a severe hazelnut allergy, you may want to avoid all nuts and nut-containing products altogether.

Incorporating Hazelnuts into Your Diet

Hazelnuts are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some ideas for incorporating hazelnuts into your diet:

Snacking and Salads

Hazelnuts make a great snack on their own or mixed with other nuts and dried fruits. They can also be added to salads for a crunchy texture and nutty flavor. Try making a salad with mixed greens, sliced pears, crumbled blue cheese, and toasted hazelnuts.

Baking and Desserts

Hazelnuts are a popular ingredient in baking and desserts. They can be used to make cakes, cookies, brownies, and more. Try making a chocolate hazelnut cake or hazelnut macarons for a decadent treat.

Hazelnut Butter and Spreads

Hazelnut butter and spreads are a delicious alternative to peanut butter and other nut butters. They can be spread on toast, used as a dip for fruit, or added to smoothies. Try making your own hazelnut butter by blending roasted hazelnuts in a food processor until smooth.

Overall, hazelnuts are a nutritious and delicious addition to any diet. They are high in healthy fats, protein, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Try incorporating hazelnuts into your meals and snacks for a tasty and nutritious boost.

Selecting and Storing Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are a versatile and nutritious nut that can be used in a variety of dishes. When selecting hazelnuts, it is important to choose ones that are fresh and of high quality to ensure the best flavor and texture.

To select the best hazelnuts, look for nuts that are plump and firm to the touch. Avoid nuts that are shriveled or have a rancid smell. It is also recommended to buy hazelnuts that are still in their shells, as this helps to protect them from moisture and air.

Once you have purchased your hazelnuts, it is important to store them properly to maintain their freshness and flavor. Hazelnuts can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to six months. Alternatively, they can be stored in the freezer for up to a year.

To prepare hazelnuts for use in recipes, they can be roasted to enhance their flavor and texture. To roast hazelnuts, spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake them in a preheated oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes, or until they are golden brown and fragrant. After roasting, allow the hazelnuts to cool before removing the shells.

Sustainability and Environmental Impact

Hazelnuts are a sustainable crop that can provide a range of environmental benefits. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, hazelnuts require less water, sequester more carbon, and reduce soil erosion and nitrogen pollution compared to other crops. They also have a low input requirement after the establishment period, which means that they can thrive with minimal maintenance.

Hazelnuts are also a renewable energy source. The oil from the nuts can be used for cooking and biofuel, which reduces the reliance on fossil fuels. This is an important factor in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change.

In addition to their environmental benefits, hazelnuts are also a nutritious food source. They are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, and have been linked to a range of health benefits, including improved heart health, cognitive function, and digestive health.

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