Yesterday being National Hazelnut Cake Day got me to thinking more about hazelnuts. Did you realize they are a really great super health food?
What Makes Them Healthy Hazelnuts?
Hazelnuts are a high-quality source of protein and fiber for starters. They also have a bunch of antioxidants such as vitamin E and many phytonutrients that help the immune system.
Not only that, but of all the tree nuts, hazelnuts have the highest concentration of folate. Why is that so great?
Well, folate is a water soluble B vitamin that is especially important during periods of rapid cell division and growth. For instance, it reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects.
In addition, both children and adults require folic acid to produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia. Folate is also thought to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. That makes them healthy hazelnuts indeed!
A Hazelnut By Any Other Name
Hazelnuts are also known as filberts, which is actually the correct name for the tree and nut. It’s of French origin and the tree was likely first introduced into the US by early French settlers.
However, hazelnut is the name coined by the English and it was applied to the native species by early settlers. Nowadays, hazelnut is more commonly used term for these nuts.
The How And Where Of Hazelnut Growth
Hazelnuts are shaped a lot like acorns and grow on bushy trees. The main producers of hazelnuts are France, Spain, Turkey and Italy. In the United States, most hazelnuts are grown in Oregon and Washington.
They’ve been a food source for a long time, and are thought to have originated in Asia. There are Chinese manuscripts from 5,000 years ago that refer to the healthy hazelnut as a sacred food from heaven.
They have a rich flavor and work well in baked goods. Hazelnuts are also one of the main ingredients in Nutella spread, besides making hazelnut butter, meal, flour, paste and oil.
Heavenly Hazelnuts Are Healthy Hazelnuts
Besides being a great tasting food, hazelnuts have great health benefits.
- Hazelnut oil was used in ancient times to help quiet chronic coughs.
- Used externally, hazelnut oil is also thought to help rid the skin of cellulite.
- Hazelnuts are a rich source of the amino acid arginine that relaxes blood vessels.
- Eating hazelnuts have been found to help lower cholesterol levels, as they contain nearly 75 percent mono-unsaturated fat and less than 4 percent saturated fat.
- Hazelnuts have the highest proanthocyanidin content of any tree nut. These compounds may help reduce the risk of blood clotting and urinary tract infections.
The Many Ways To Enjoy Hazelnuts
There are many ways to incorporate hazelnuts into your diet. You can snack on the whole or cracked nuts. Along with diced nuts, they can be used in baked goods, entrees, salads, soups, cereals, bars, toppings, and even dairy products.
Hazelnut meal is finely ground and free flowing. It can be used to replace flour in baked goods, fillings and sauces, and even in ice cream. It’s especially good to use to make low carb foods, and is of course, excellent for use in health foods!
Even More Ways To Enjoy Healthy Hazelnut Benefits!
Hazelnut butter is similar to natural peanut butter, being made of finely ground hazelnuts and unsweetened. Not only does it add a special flavor, it adds protein to replace some carbohydrates, making it also good for low carb and health foods. An interesting side effect of using hazelnut butter with recipes containing chocolate is that it lowers the melting point of chocolate and makes the texture creamier.
Hazelnut paste is much the same as hazelnut butter, only besides the finely ground hazelnuts, it also has sugar added. It’s spreadable, but grainy. It is often used in bakery icings and fillings, confectionery, and dairy products.
Healthy Hazelnuts Add Pizazz To Your Diet!
A great tasting nut with a lot of uses, hazelnuts are also full of nutrients that are great for your body. They’re a champion on the Superfoods list! You can’t go wrong with hazelnuts!