the chestnuts – rich in property e nutritional values to be explored – they are the fruit of the chestnut tree, whose botanical name is Castanea sativa. With a delicious and slightly sweet flavor, chestnuts are characterized by interesting benefits, and are incredibly versatile enough to be used in a long string of recipes. Consequently, they can be combined with a wide variety of dishes: from desserts, to rustics, from the filling of savory pies or fresh homemade pasta to salads, soups and much more. Do you want to know more? Read on.
Origins and diffusion of chestnuts
The chestnut is a native European species that in the past was grown almost exclusively to use its timber, rather than for the production and marketing of the fruit. Even now, in our diet, chestnuts have a marginal role: production is limited to some quality qualities and the relative farina.
In Italy, the cultivation of chestnuts is widespread above all in Calabria, Tuscany, Liguria and Piedmont. The most valuable qualities are destined for the confectionery industry for the preparation of chestnut cream, a creamy jam, and marron-glacé.
On the stalls of our markets these fruits are present only for a limited period, which generally runs from mid-October until the end of November. There are two varieties on the market that differ both in size and in price: i browns, bigger and sweeter and the classic chestnuts. The latter are the fruit of wild trees, while the chestnuts are the fruits of plants grown and modified with subsequent and programmed grafts.
Let’s see what the nutritional characteristics of this fruit and how to use it as part of a diet balanced.
The nutritional values of chestnuts
Chestnuts have always been known as “bread of the poor“And this already says a lot about their composition in terms of macronutrients: these fruits are, in fact, a predominantly source of carbohydrates complex.
Nutritional Values of Chestnuts (100 g)
A portion of 100 gr of fresh chestnuts, approx 10 fruits, brings 193 calorie and has the following nutrient breakdown:
- 42 g di carbohydrates
- 2 g di proteins
- 2 g di fat
- 4.7 g in fibre
100 grams of boiled chestnuts instead they contain about 120 calories. Quite interesting is also the content of sali minerals: are a rich source of potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, iron, magnesium (such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or cashews) as well as vitamins such as C, B1, B2 and PP.
8 properties of chestnuts to know
Not only are chestnuts a delicious treat for the palate, but the nutrients they contain are linked to many health benefits. These affect the heart, digestive system and blood sugar. But that is not all. Here are what other properties they have.
Chestnuts contain a large variety of antioxidants. From vitamin C, to gallic acid, from ellagic acid to tannins. The benefits of antioxidants are well known: they help defend cells from free radical damage, which in turn is linked to various chronic diseases.
2. Heart health
Both gallic and ellagic acid help protect heart cells from oxidative stress. Can anyone with high blood pressure eat chestnuts? Absolutely yes. Potassium counteracts the hypertensive action of sodium and therefore reduces heart rate and heart rate blood pressure in a completely natural way. Finally, iron helps prevent microcytic anemia.
3. Gluten free
As well as hazelnuts, pecans and almonds, chestnuts are also a natural food gluten free (on the other hand, it has a nutritional content similar to that of cereals). For this reason it is often the basis of food production gluten free intended for celiacs.
4. Blood sugar
Being a good source of fibre, these fruits help balance blood sugar levels and prevent blood sugar spikes. But beware, chestnuts also have a high glycemic index, so they should be consumed in moderation. However, some studies have shown that the antioxidants present in them increase insulin sensitivity.
Chestnuts are rich in folate. This means that thanks to folic acid, essential for the formation of red blood cells and the synthesis of DNA, they are recommended during the peri-conceptional period as they help prevent malformations in the fetus such as neural tube defects.
6. Weight loss
This property is linked, once again, to fibers. By slowing down the digestion of food and curbing appetite, chestnuts prove to be excellent allies in weight loss thanks also to their low fat content.
Chestnuts contain some antioxidants, phenolic acids, which can help reduce theinflammation in the body caused by free radical damage.
Not only are chestnuts a very digestible fruit, but they are useful for preserving or restoring intestinal regularity. But be careful: it is advisable to eat them well cooked. Cooking, understood precisely as exposure to heat, reduces starch to simple sugar. This also ensures the sweet taste but, as mentioned, makes them unsuitable for large feasting for those suffering from diabetes.
What are chestnuts bad for?? Yes, because despite what has just been seen, they are not exempt from contraindications. The first factors to pay attention to are calorie content andhigh glycemic index. This means that, between who should not eat chestnuts or, at least, among those who must use it moderately and carefully, there are those suffering from obesity and severe overweight.
A frequently asked question is “People with diabetes can eat chestnuts? ‘”The answer is yes, but the same restriction as above applies. If you have type 2 diabetes mellitus you should limit your consumption.
Other contraindications are to be found in colitis or aerophagia, which could worsen after excessive consumption of these fruits. Finally, the high content of tannins can make them irritating to the intestinal mucosa.
When and how to eat chestnuts
As we have seen, they are fruits rich in carbohydrates: this characteristic must be carefully considered in the context of a healthy and balanced diet. How many chestnuts can you eat? To answer this question, it is enough to know that 10 chestnuts provide approximately the same amount of calorie and macronutrients of about half a portion of pasta: this means that eating them after a meal is possible provided, perhaps, to replace at least half of the first course. Same thing goes for how many chestnuts instead of bread.
That said, these fruits are delicious and easy to add to your diet thanks to their slightly sweet flavor and soft but firm texture.
How to weigh chestnuts
To calculate the weight of chestnuts just keep in mind that the weight of a single fruit is around 15 grams. Consequently, to get 100 grams, you just need to group about 7. A portion of cooked fruit should weigh between 60 and 80 g.
How to cook chestnuts
The cooking methods are different, all easy but with different results. To prepare the Roast Chestnuts you can roast them on a baking tray for 20-30 minutes at 200 ° C. Make sure you make a cut in their rind before cooking them to prevent them from exploding in the oven. To shorten the cooking times you can opt for the chestnuts in a pan O in the microwave.
To do the boiled chestnuts in their skinsinstead, you can boil them in a pot of water. Then bring to a boil and then lower the heat by simmering for about 30 minutes. Even in the case of boiled chestnuts the peel must be engraved. Once cooked, just peel them to be able to enjoy them as a delicious snack. They are also incredibly versatile. Here are some ideas.
The best recipes with chestnuts
Se the roasted chestnuts probably represent the recipe with chestnuts most popular, it is not the only one in which such delicious autumn fruits can find space. For example, they can be eaten as a snack, added to soups, salads or used in the preparation of delicious desserts. This is the case of the Chestnut jam, of the brown ice cream he was born in Montblanc.
But they also give great satisfaction in savory recipes, among the first courses there are chestnut gnocchi or cream of chestnuts and mushrooms. Among the second courses, however, roast pork with chestnuts or baked chicken, to which you can add or substitute potatoes.
Chestnut flour recipe: the castagnaccio
An interesting derivative of these fruits is the Chestnut flour: it is a useful ingredient in the kitchen, also because it is naturally gluten-free. This is the basic ingredient of weather in castagnaccio, a very popular cake in Piedmont, Liguria and Tuscany. Here is the basic recipe.
- 350 g of chestnut flour
- 150 g of water
- 60 g of raisins
- 40 g of chopped pine nuts
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- breadcrumbs and water as required
Mix the chestnut flour with water until it reaches a soft and dense mixture. Add the chopped pine nuts, the softened raisins and two tablespoons of oil. Pour the mixture into a non-stick pan lightly greased with extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 ° C for about 40 minutes.
A slice of castagnaccio at the end of a meal, as well as a slice of baked chestnuts, is certainly a delicacy that should not be given up: it will be enough to remember to eat only half a portion of the first course and avoid bread.
How to store chestnuts
Fresh chestnuts can be stored in the refrigerator in a paper bag for 2 or 3 days. Or, in an airtight container for up to 10 days. Fresh ones are best consumed within three weeks of purchase. The cooked ones can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Source: GreenStyle by www.greenstyle.it.
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