The hazelnut, the fruit of the hazelnut tree (Corylus avellana L.), is an easily digestible food, very energetic and capable of providing a high caloric intake. Widely used in the food industry, it is rich in oleic acid useful against bad cholesterol. Let's find out better.
1. Properties and benefits of hazelnuts
2. Ally of
3. Does hazelnut make you fat?
5. Description and variety of hazelnut
6. How hazelnut is consumed
7. Curiosities about hazelnuts
Properties and benefits of hazelnuts
The hazelnuts, like all dried fruit, they are a very energetic food that can provide a high calorie intake (100 g provide about 655 Kcal easily assimilated, it is, in fact, the oily seed richer in fats and in the meantime more digestible).
The high energy value is given by the good content in fats (64%), in particular in monounsaturated fats (theoleic acid is the highest with values between 71 and 83% of total fatty acids) and linoleic. It has been widely demonstrated that oleic acid (also contained in extra virgin olive oil) is an excellent "scavenger" of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides, helping to carry out a preventive and protective action against heart diseases.
As for the minor constituents, these are highly variable and influenced by multiple factors such as variety, geographical origin, harvesting period, agricultural practices. Among these we find the Vitamin E, whose content is higher than in olive oil: 35 mg / 100g against 11 mg / 100g. In addition to hindering free radicals and counteracting aging, thanks to its antioxidant power, Vitamin E performs an important function of protection from oxidative processes and strengthens the walls of the capillaries.
In addition to vitamin E, hazelnuts show good amounts of B vitamins (niacin and thiamine), in particular hazelnuts are rich in vitamin B6 whose content is between 0,55 and 0,88 mg / 100g.
The nutritional value of hazelnuts is finally increased by the significant presence of trace elements (iron, copper, zinc and selenium) and other mineral compounds such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Hazelnut, an ally of
Some scientific evidence has advanced the hypothesis of a beneficial effect of hazelnuts on human health:
- in cardiovascular diseases; a study of the Physicians' health study (2002) subjected 21454 subjects for 12 months to the regular intake of dried fruit (4 or more servings / week). Intake is associated with a 30% reduction in the risk of death from vascular disease;
- in dyslipidemia; in particular, the content in antioxidants and the composition in fatty acids would determine positive effects on the mobilization of cholesterol, decreasing the levels of LDL and total cholesterol and increasing the quantities of HDL (good cholesterol).
Furthermore, the high content of tocopherols (vitamin E) and ß-sitosterol also has an effect on the control of some types of tumors (colon, prostate and breast).
Does hazelnut make you fat?
Does hazelnut, like all dried fruit, make you fat?
A consumption of dried fruit it is not associated with weight gain although the calories introduced increase. There are three hypotheses as to why this happens. Dried fruit could induce:
- an increase in energy expenditure;
- an increase in satiety;
- less absorption of other nutrients.
Dried fruit, therefore, in the context of nutritional schemes that take into account the total caloric intake, can become a functional food to control dyslipidemias and, paradoxically, body weight.
Therefore it can be recommended to children, athletes, students and anyone engaged in intellectual or physical activity, indicated for diabetics and dyslipidemics, it can be consumed in adequate portions at breakfast, as an aperitif or at the end of a meal, or as a quick and healthy snack.
Also discover the properties and benefits of hazelnut oil
Description of the plant and variety
Hazel (Corylus avellana L.) is a plant with bushy habit, smooth and compact bark, dark green and ovoid leaves. The most important species are Corylus avellana (common hazel), Corylus maxima and Corylus colurna (Turkish hazel).
Native to Europe and Asia Minor, it has been cultivated since ancient times by the Greeks and Romans who appreciated its properties; it is, in fact, one of the oldest plants grown by man. For the Celts and in the beliefs of the Piedmontese peasants, the hazelnut tree was a magical tree: stories and legends tell that magical creatures hid among the bushes.
Production today is concentrated in the countries bordering the Mediterranean: Turkey, the country, Spain, Greece and France, but Turkey, with around 700 tons, is the world's leading producer (70%); el country is the second, with 100-125 thousand tons, grown in only four regions: Campania, Lazio, Piedmont and Sicily.
The quality of el paesene hazelnuts is internationally recognized. In particular, the varieties such as the Tonda delle Langhe (Piedmontese) and the Tonda di Giffoni (Campania) - both IGP mark - represent qualitative excellence.
The main users of hazelnuts are the Swiss (2 kg / person / year) who use them as an ingredient for chocolate.
How hazelnut is consumed
The consumption of hazelnuts, for 90% of the total production, is destined tofood industry whose use can take place in different forms depending on the type of product to be obtained:
- whole: in pralines, nougats and chocolate bars;
- grains: for the fillings of snacks, nougat, chocolate and for the toppings of sweets and ice cream;
- hazelnut paste: for obtaining chocolate-based creams and for ice creams;
- hazelnut flour: in biscuits and cakes.
The remaining 10% of the hazelnuts is intended for direct consumption such as nuts in shells and as toasted hazelnuts. Hazelnuts can be eaten fresh or toasted or frozen.
The fresh fruit è covered with a small skin sometimes difficult to remove (just put them in the oven for a few minutes and then rub them). It keeps for a few weeks, then it becomes bitter while with the shell it lasts up to three months if put in a dry place.
In the past, alternative uses of hazelnuts have also been proposed: in particular the use for thehigh quality oil extraction.
In fact, hazelnut oil (extracted by cold pressing of the fruits) could be used by the confectionery industry to replace other low quality vegetable oils (palm oil, rapeseed, etc.) currently used in confectionery preparations, this oil also having a sweet taste and a delicate aftertaste.
Curiosities about hazelnuts
Nothing is thrown away from the core, everything is used: from the trunk to the fruit. The leaves they are used in phytotherapy (they are a natural anti-inflammatory) and infused in hot water for healthy herbal teas; placed in the freezer they become a compress that can relieve dark circles.
THEoil extracted from the fruit it is the basis of many creams, because it is easily absorbed and has soothing properties. It has a purifying action, which is why it is suitable for oily skin: both as a cleanser (also found in soap bars) and as a natural make-up remover.
I shells they are an excellent fuel and can be used to protect the base of outdoor plants from frost. With the wood of the hazel a very fine embers are produced, used in the manufacture of drawing charcoal.
La hazel rod it is used by dowsers to search for water.
Hazelnuts among the dried fruit of December