Chestnuts are very different from everyonethe other nuts.
For one, they are a source of carbohydrates rather than fat.
But what nutritional value do they provide?
This guide examines the potential health benefits - and concerns - of chestnuts.
What are chestnuts?
First of all, chestnuts are botanically a “true nut”.Andculinary sense. For example, we think of almonds as nuts, but botanically they are drupes/seeds.
Peanuts? You are a legume, but again,we think they're crazy.
Chestnuts are a real nut, along with other types of nuts such as hazelnuts.
Chestnuts have been a popular part of the human diet for thousands of years, with historical records showing cultivation going back to at least 2000 BC.1).
Today, the nuts are popular around the world, and roasted chestnuts are synonymous with the festive season in the western world.
Unlike most nuts, chestnuts are a starchy food with a sweet taste.
types of chestnuts
There are dozens of chestnuts grown around the world, but there are five main types.
These chestnut varieties include;
- Castanea crenata:known as "Japanese chestnut" or "Korean chestnut".
- chestnut toothed:a species of American chestnut that grows in the eastern parts of the United States.
- Soft chestnut:the "Chinese" chestnut. China produces more chestnuts than any other country in the world (2).
- Castanea pumila:another American chestnut that grows predominantly in the eastern and southern states. It also bears the name "dwarf chestnut".
- Castanea sativa:this can also be referred to as "European chestnut", "sweet chestnut" or "Spanish chestnut". It grows throughout Europe and some regions of Asia.
key point:Chestnuts are a real nut with a long history of human cultivation.
The tables below show the complete nutritional facts for roasted chestnuts per 100 gram (3.5 oz) serving (3).
|Saturated Fatty Acids||0,4 g|
|Monounsaturated fatty acids||0.8g|
|Polyunsaturated fat||0,9 gr|
|Vitamin C||26,0 mg||43 %|
|Vitamin B6||0,5 mg||25 %|
|Folate||70,0 µg||17 %|
|Vitamin K1||7,8 µg||10 %|
|Niacin||1,3 mg||7 %|
|pantothenic acid||0,6mg||6 %|
|Vitamin E||0,5 mg||2 %|
|Vitamin A||1 µg RAE||0 %|
|copper||0,5 mg||25 %|
|Potassium||592 mg||17 %|
|Magnesium||33,0 mg||8 %|
|calcium||29,0 mg||3 %|
|Selenium||1,2 µg||2 %|
|Sodium||2.0 mg||0 %|
key point:Chestnuts are primarily a source of carbohydrates and offer a pretty decent array of vitamins and minerals.
Health benefits of chestnuts
Chestnuts offer several benefits, mainly due to the vitamins and minerals they contain.
1) Reich an Vitamin C
It's rare to find vitamin C in nuts, but chestnuts provide a fairly large amount of the nutrient.
100 grams of chestnuts provide 26 mg of vitamin C, which is 43% of the daily value for the vitamin (4).
In addition to vitamin C, chestnuts are also a good source of B vitamins.
key point:Chestnuts provide a good amount of vitamin C.
2) Chestnuts are an important source of polyphenols
Polyphenols are bioactive compounds found in plant foods that can have beneficial effects on our health.
With more than 1,215 mg polyphenols per 100 grams, chestnuts offer more of these compounds than almost any other food (7).
The majority of these compounds come from the phenolic acids ellagic acid and gallic acid.
It's worth noting, however, that most of this research comes from cell (test tube) and animal studies using potent extracts. As such, there is no evidence at this time that food-based dosages of ellagic acid can have these effects.
Regarding gallic acid, a recent randomized controlled trial showed that a small daily amount (15 mg) reduced plasma oxidized LDL and C-reactive protein by 24%. For comparison: 100 grams of chestnuts provide 480 mg of gallic acid (10,7).
That being said, there is very little human research on these compounds.
key point:Chestnuts are one of the foods richest in polyphenols.
3) Good source of copper
Copper is one of the main nutrients that we can find in chestnuts.
A 100 gram (3.5 ounce) serving contains 0.5 mg of copper, which is 25% of the mineral's Daily Value.
Copper is an essential mineral that plays critical roles in the central nervous system, energy production, and iron metabolism (11).
In addition to their copper content, chestnuts are also an excellent source of manganese, potassium and phosphorus.
key point:Chestnuts contain a variety of minerals and provide large amounts of manganese and copper.
4) Chestnuts are moderately high in fiber
With 53 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams, chestnuts are certainly a high-carb food.
However, 5.1 grams of these carbohydrates come from fiber.
The fiber content of carbohydrates, in particular, may help slow postprandial (after eating) spikes in blood sugar (12).
Because of this, whole fruit, for example, has less of an impact on blood sugar levels than ultra-processed sugary drinks (13).
Early research also suggests that fiber may play a positive role in gastrointestinal health. In this context, a systematic review of 64 studies found that dietary fiber increases the presence of so-called "good bacteria" strains in the gut (14).
key point:Chestnuts provide a moderate amount of fiber, which may provide health benefits.
Along with their health benefits, there are also some potential downsides to chestnuts.
1) Moderately high in oxalates
Oxalic acid (oxalate) is a type of anti-nutrient found in food that can cause problems in excessive amounts. This is especially true for people with a history of kidney stones (15).
Although chestnuts do not contain as much oxalate as other nutslike almonds, they still contain a large concentration of the compound.
Chestnuts contain about 72 mg oxalate per 100 grams (16).
According to kidney stone researchers, all foods are classified as containing more than 10 mg of oxalate per 100 grams"medium to high"Oxalate content (17).
In addition, the National Kidney Foundation advises that individuals with a history of kidney stones limit their daily oxalate intake to <50 mg (18).
key point:Chestnuts are unsuitable for a low-oxalate diet.
2) Note that chestnuts are high in carbohydrates (and low in fat).
First, being high-carb and low-fat isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Despite this, many people eat nuts for their “healthy fats.”
For those looking to increase their intake of dietary fat, chestnuts are a poor choice, and they're primarily a source of carbohydrates.
key point:Don't eat chestnuts for fat - they contain very little fat.
3) Chestnut allergies are relatively common
First, chestnuts belong to a different botanical class than nuts like almonds, walnuts, and Brazil nuts.
For this reason, chestnut allergies differ from general tree nut allergies (19).
In other words; people with almond allergiescouldbe ok with chestnuts (but maybe not).
It is always good for anyone with a nut allergy to take precautions and this may be worth checking with a doctor. A simple skin prick test can provide information about whether an allergy is present.
Again, for anyone with concerns about a possible allergy, this should be discussed with your doctor.
key point:Some people are allergic to chestnuts. People with latex allergies are at higher risk of reactions to chestnuts.
4) Do not confuse sweet chestnuts with (poisonous) horse chestnuts
Do not confuse sweet chestnuts with "horse chestnuts".
Horse chestnuts are also known as "conkers", especially in Great Britain.
Although the two look very similar, horse chestnuts contain a substance called glucoside aesculin. Unfortunately, this compound is toxic to humans (21).
For this reason, care should be taken when picking sweet chestnuts in an area where horse chestnuts grow.
Proper identification is key.
key point:Look out for horse chestnuts; They look very similar to sweet chestnuts, but contain a poison.
Nutritionally, chestnuts are very different from typical nuts, offering primarily carbohydrates and no fat.
That being said, chestnuts are quite nutritious and contain a good mix of vitamins and minerals.
As a snacking option, not many dishes can compete with hot roasted chestnuts on a cold winter's day.
For more about nuts,see this guide to pistachios.
While they are good for health, eating too many chestnuts can lead to constipation. About 5 to 10 chestnuts a day is considered enough. This edible nut has been used by the Chinese since neolithic times.Are roasted chestnuts healthy for you? ›
Chestnuts are a good source of many vitamins and minerals, such as copper, manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, thiamine, folate, riboflavin, and potassium. They are also a good source of fiber, with 15% of your daily needs in 10 roasted chestnuts.Are chestnuts a super food? ›
Native, healthy and irresistibly tasty: chestnuts rank top of the list of nutritious snacks.Are chestnuts high in sugar? ›
Chestnuts have certain nutritional characteristics similar to those of cereals. Even though they do not contain gluten, they do have a high content of sugars, especially starch.Do chestnuts raise blood pressure? ›
Controls blood pressure
As discussed earlier, chestnuts contain potassium and this is one of the most important minerals when it comes to lowering blood pressure. Potassium acts as a vasodilator, which helps in increasing the general blood flow, therefore decreasing the overall pressure.
Chestnuts are also a good source of potassium, which is important for regulating blood pressure.Are chestnuts anti inflammatory? ›
Chestnuts are anti-inflammatory. It helps reduce inflammation in the body. Chestnuts contain Vitamin C, gallic acid, ellagic acid, and other polyphenols. These are antioxidants that reduce inflammation.What does chestnuts do for hair? ›
The potassium B vitamins, zinc and vitamin E that is present in chestnut can be very advantageous for your hair and also eliminates the toxins in your body that damages and weakens your hair. Shampoos and hair ointments that contain chestnut is preferable for weak or damaged hair.
Per ounce, roasted chestnuts have about 70 calories, 0.9g of protein, 15g of carbohydrates, 1.4g of fiber, 3g of sugar, and 0.6g of fat. Chestnuts are packed with potassium (168 grams per ounce). Folate and Vitamin C are also contained in chestnuts.
Since chestnut trees are not self-sterile, you will need to plant two different cultivars. The only drawback to a chestnut in the back yard is the spiny husks that fall to the ground and create a barefoot hazard.
Raw chestnuts are safe to eat for most people. However, they do contain tannic acid, which means they could cause stomach irritation, nausea, or liver damage if you have liver disease or experience a lot of kidney problems.What nationality eats chestnuts? ›
Roasted chestnut is a popular autumn and winter street food in East Asia, Europe, and New York City. Asian chestnuts (Castanea crenata, C. mollissima) as well as European chestnuts (C.Are chestnuts good for arthritis? ›
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.Are chestnuts bad for diabetics? ›
Chestnuts have low glycemic index (GI) which are preferable for people with diabetes. Lower the glycemic index higher is the Fiber. Fiber in chestnuts improves blood glucose levels by helping insulin work more effectively. This is extremely important for people with diabetes type 2.Is A chestnut a nut or a fruit? ›
In botany terms, nuts are strictly a particular kind of dry fruit that has a single seed, a hard shell, and a protective husk. Chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts fit the true definition of a nut. Peanuts and almonds do not meet the botanical definition of a true nut.Are chestnuts bad for your teeth? ›
Chestnuts and many other kinds of nuts are great for your oral health because they are packed with protein to keep your teeth strong. Chewing them also increases saliva production.Can you eat too many roasted chestnuts? ›
A normal consumption of chestnuts has no contraindications, except those related to the high starch content. As with potatoes, in fact, excessive consumption can generate hypersensitivity in subjects suffering from gastrointestinal disorders.What country has the best chestnuts? ›
China is the world's largest chestnut producer
Food & Agriculture Organisation.
American chestnut might cause some side effects such as stomach and intestinal problems, kidney and liver damage.When should you eat chestnuts? ›
Chestnuts are typically harvested mid-September through November and are one of the easiest nut varieties to harvest and prepare for storage. Here's what you do: Wait for the chestnuts to fall to the ground. Gather up all of the nuts with open burrs.
Several types of nuts such as pistachios, chestnuts, hazelnuts, and walnuts are all great sources of phytoestrogens. These are naturally low in calories and carbohydrates, making them a great choice if looking to get a dose of phytoestrogen in the diet.What is the strongest natural anti-inflammatory? ›
Omega-3 fatty acids , which are abundant in fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, are among the most potent anti-inflammatory supplements.Are chestnuts good for your lungs? ›
The Lung Institute highlights 3 types of must that you should limit if you have chronic lung disease. These are pistachios, cashers and chestnuts. The reason being, these are lower in healthy fat than other nuts and higher in carbohydrates. A diet high in carbohydrates may increase levels of lung tissue inflammation.Which nuts are the most anti-inflammatory? ›
High in ALA, walnuts have the highest omega-3 content, and researchers studying their effects have found they lower C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and arthritis.What nuts make hair thicker? ›
Nuts. Nuts like peanuts, cashews, almonds and walnuts are great sources of protein, healthy fats, biotin and zinc which support healthy tissue development on the scalp and can help stimulate hair growth and prevent hair loss.Are chestnuts healthier than almonds? ›
Because carbohydrates have fewer calories per gram than fat—4 calories vs. 9 calories—chestnuts are far lower in calories than other nuts. A half-cup of chestnuts has 175 calories compared with 414 calories for a half-cup of almonds.
Chestnuts can be roasted or made into flour for cakes and bread. Stewed chicken with chestnuts is also a famous dish in many regions of China. From the wetlands along the coast to the dense rainforests hidden in the southwest, China boasts an array of plant species.Are chestnuts carbs or protein? ›
Unlike most other nuts, chestnuts contain little protein or fat and chiefly provide complex carbs.Why are chestnuts so expensive? ›
Though the American Chestnut tree technically still grows in the U.S., it's highly endangered because of the blight fungus which remains rampant along the eastern region of the United States. Once planted, the tree is guaranteed to die from the fungus.Who eats the most chestnuts in the world? ›
Origins: China is the biggest producer in the world, followed by Europe (Turkey, Italy, Greece, and France). The Greeks are the biggest consumers of chestnuts in the world.
"They're bland, and a little like a soft potato. They're not a crunchy food. They're nice chopped up in cakes with sugar, or put into stuffing or used in a sauce. They're nourishing; they're just not that tasty."Are chestnuts good for the immune system? ›
The high vitamin C content in chestnuts boosts the immune system by: Increasing the production of white blood cells. Identifying and neutralizing free radicals inside the body before they cause oxidative stress in healthy cells.Can chestnuts make you gassy? ›
The fiber in the nut helps with digestion. However, eating too many chestnuts can cause bloating and flatulence. The fiber also helps keep blood sugars steady but remember to practice portion control because the carbohydrates in chestnuts can increase blood sugars.Are chestnuts hard to digest? ›
Rich in fiber, chestnuts can be useful to help with regular digestion, especially if you're struggling with constipation. Chestnuts can also help to fight anemia since they have such a high level of iron and folic acid, which is also useful for women during pregnancy.How do you eat chestnuts? ›
Microwave: First, cut through the shell of the nuts in an “X” pattern to prevent bursting. Cook nuts on High setting for 30 seconds. Cool, peel, eat. Vary cooking time to suit, overcooking will dry the nut and make it rubbery.
The high content of fiber which is a characteristic of chestnuts makes for a low-glycemic index food, suitable to avoid dangerous spikes in blood sugar concentrations. In contrast to other nuts these fruits are less rich in oxalate, a molecule that can promote the formation of kidney stones.Where in the US do chestnuts grow? ›
The American chestnut is native to southern and eastern parts of the United States, particularly along the Appalachian Mountains. It is present in parts of West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania.Is it better to roast or boil chestnuts? ›
You can either roast or boil chestnuts. Boiling will simply help you to remove the skins. Roasting will introduce more flavour into the chestnuts and is generally more preferred. Either way you need to start by cutting a small cross in the pointed end of each chestnut (a sharp vegetable knife is good for this).What state produces the most chestnuts? ›
These Michigan trees are the only ones in all of North America that were able to survive the blight and grow back.” Today, Michigan has the most acres of any state devoted to chestnut production and the largest number of chestnut-growing farmers, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture data.What food calms arthritis? ›
- Fatty Fish. Salmon, mackerel and tuna have high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Both of these have been found to help reduce inflammation. ...
- Dark Leafy Greens. ...
- Nuts. ...
- Olive Oil. ...
- Berries. ...
- Garlic and Onions. ...
- Green Tea.
Other good food choices for an anti-pain diet: avocados; nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, and Brazil nuts); lean proteins, such as chicken and turkey; beans; and cocoa.Why can't diabetics eat nuts? ›
Avoid nuts that are coated in salt — Dobbins notes that sodium is bad for your blood pressure — and sugar. More bad news if you love the sweet-and-savory combo: Chocolate-covered peanuts and honey-roasted cashews are high in carbs and not the best choice when you have diabetes, Dobbins says.Are chestnuts OK for pre diabetes? ›
Preserving a healthy bloody sugar level is critical if you have lifestyle-related diseases such as pre-diabetes or diabetes. The antioxidants within chestnuts (gallic acid and ellagic acid), not only work to regulate blood sugar levels, but it improve responsiveness to insulin.Can you eat chestnuts raw? ›
How to cook chestnuts. Fresh chestnuts must always be cooked before use and are never eaten raw, owing to their tannic acid content. You need to remove the chestnuts from their skins by either boiling or roasting them.Can dogs eat chestnuts? ›
Stick to ASPCA-approved chestnuts—like the American chestnut—for your dog. Sweet chestnuts are also dog-safe, but horse chestnuts are toxic for canines. Avoid pre-cooked chestnuts because they can contain seasonings or additives that may upset your dog's stomach.What tree do chestnuts come from? ›
Sweet chestnut is a deciduous tree which can reach 35m when mature and live for up to 700 years. They belong to the same family as oaks and beeches. The bark is grey-purple and smooth, and develops vertical fissures with age. The twigs are purple-brown and buds are plum, red-brown and oval in shape.Is chestnut good for arthritis? ›
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.Is it better to boil or roast chestnuts? ›
What is the best way to cook chestnuts? Oven-roasting chestnuts is the best way to bring out the fullest flavour (if you want to eat them straight away or chop them into your stuffing mix). Boiling them will give a smooth texture for cooking in soups or purées.Are chestnuts anti-inflammatory? ›
Chestnuts are anti-inflammatory. It helps reduce inflammation in the body. Chestnuts contain Vitamin C, gallic acid, ellagic acid, and other polyphenols. These are antioxidants that reduce inflammation.Should diabetics eat chestnuts? ›
Chestnuts have low glycemic index (GI) which are preferable for people with diabetes. Lower the glycemic index higher is the Fiber. Fiber in chestnuts improves blood glucose levels by helping insulin work more effectively. This is extremely important for people with diabetes type 2.
Raw chestnuts are safe to eat for most people. However, they do contain tannic acid, which means they could cause stomach irritation, nausea, or liver damage if you have liver disease or experience a lot of kidney problems.What foods detox your lungs? ›
Foods like green leafy vegetables, garlic, citrus fruits, berries, and ginger are great foods for detoxing the lungs and keeping them healthy.