Hazelnut is the fruit of the hazel tree (Corylus avellana L.), an energetic and easily digestible food; these are oily seeds rich in good fatty acids and vitamin E, as well as mineral salts and vitamins from group B. Thanks to their properties, hazelnuts bring many benefits to our body: they help prevent cardiovascular diseases, strengthen bones, help reduce bad cholesterol and more. They are excellent to consume as a snack to eat for breakfast or as a snack, although it is good not to abuse as they provide a high caloric intake. Let's find out more about this type of dried fruit: what are its properties, how to consume them and how much to eat per day.
Properties and benefits of hazelnuts
Among the oily seeds, hazelnuts are the richest in vitamin E, which protects the skin from the harmful effect of ultraviolet rays and therefore from premature aging, in addition to performing an antitumor action, also thanks to the presence of manganese, an enzyme antioxidant produced by cells and which shelters the body from cancer. This dried fruit also contains good fatty acids and phytosterols that help prevent cardiovascular diseases and keep under control bad LDL cholesterol levels. Hazelnuts are indeed rich in unsaturated fats, such as oleic acid, which raises the levels of good HDL cholesterol.
Thanks to the magnesium content, moreover, hazelnuts help to strengthen the bones, this is why they are considered an alternative source to calcium: useful also for the welfare of muscles and joints. Hazelnuts also contain B-group vitamins: vitamin B6 is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system, as it is a substance necessary for the creation of myelin, which increases the effectiveness of nerve impulses. It is also important for the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin, neurotransmitters of the nervous system. Hazelnuts also contain vitamin B9, or folic acid, useful for the synthesis of hormones; vitamin B2, necessary for the health of red blood cells and vitamin B3 which promotes the normal functions of the digestive and nervous systems.
Hazelnuts are also a very energetic food and provide a high caloric intake: 100 grams of hazelnuts contain about 630 Kcal, but they are easily assimilated precisely because it is one of the most digestible oil seeds. From the seeds of hazelnuts you can also obtain hazelnut oil, rich in unsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E used above all for skin and hair care: it has nourishing, toning and emollient properties.
How to consume and store hazelnuts
Hazelnuts can be consumed in many different ways: at breakfast you can add them to yogurt, along with other dried fruits or cereals. They can then be consumed as a meal or as a snack, ideal especially when practicing sports, as they are very energetic. Hazelnuts can be also used to make sweet and savory recipes: if you toast them, moreover, they are much more digestible, and the toasting also enhances the flavor. Hazelnuts are also used for the production of chocolate, comfits and various desserts, as well as in the composition of muesli. To best enjoy the nutritional properties of hazelnuts, it would be ideal to soak them: this helps to reduce the amount of phytic acid contained in these oil seeds, improving the availability of vitamins, mineral salts and nutrients.
Buy the hazelnuts with the shell, to prevent the acids it contains from going rancid. If you buy the shelled hazelnuts, store them in well-sealed containers, or put them in bags to keep in the refrigerator: this way you can preserve them for a long time.
How many hazelnuts to eat per day?
As we have seen, hazelnuts are very caloric, which is why the recommended daily quantity is 20-30 grams per day, which corresponds to around 20-25 hazelnuts: this is the amount recommended by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent cardiovascular diseases. The best time to consume them is in the morning as, during the day, you can burn the calories you have taken.