Chestnut or “acorn of the gods” (Castanea sativa) is the only nut fruit with vitamin C.
Chestnut fruit contains a large percentage of starch and sugar and does not contain oil and is therefore used in human nutrition cooked, baked, in some parts of the world it is served instead of flour and potatoes.
Chestnut is the only low-calorie nut: in 30 grams of roasted or dried chestnut it has 1 gram of fat and 70 kilocalories. It is a good choice for all those people who keep a good line and follow a diet for weight loss.
It originates from the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. There are also species of American, Japanese and Chinese chestnut.
Its fruit is one of the most nutritious foods: 53% is water, 2.9 g is protein, 44 g is carbohydrates, and the main ingredient is starch with about 44% in raw seeds, the amount of which is comparable to potatoes.
For this reason, flour is also produced from its fruits, which, mixed with cereal flour, gives nutrient-rich pastries and bread. Flour is characterized by a significant amount of sugar that is created in the dried fruit. Chestnut fruit is still rich in calcium, potassium, and also contains phosphorus, iron, most B vitamins.
Although chestnuts belong to the family of dried fruits, unlike the latter it is a low-fat food and for example gives more than twice less calories compared to the same amount of nuts, 100 grams of chestnuts gives approximately 200 kcal, while the same amount of nuts gives about 500 kcal !
10 reasons why you should definitely include it in your winter diet
1. Saturates quickly – Due to the high content of plant fibers and complex carbohydrates, chestnut quickly causes a feeling of satiety. Of course, this is desirable in weight control.
2. Good for teeth and bones – Due to the combination of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium has an exceptional effect on bone and tooth health. Stimulates the functions of the nervous system – Rich in minerals and B vitamins, promotes good health of the nervous system and prevents neurological changes and diseases.
4. Contains all essential amino acids – This is especially important for people who are on a vegan diet, the elderly and athletes.
5. Useful in the diet of diabetics – Due to the slow absorption of carbohydrates and the sudden rise in insulin in the blood, it is useful in the diet of diabetics.
6. Chestnut flour is a gluten-free food – This makes it ideal in the diet of people with celiac disease and people who are sensitive to gluten to varying degrees.
7. Chestnut is good in the fight against anemia – it is high in iron and in combination with some fresh fruit (due to vitamin C) helps with anemia and fatigue.
8. Chestnut has a cardio-shielding effect – By containing good fats and providing a good proportion of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, chestnuts protect the heart.
9. Preserves the intestinal system and immunity – Rich in plant fibers, enables good work of the intestinal system, good condition of the bacterial flora, prevents constipation and intestinal disorders, which all together have a beneficial effect on immunity.
10. Good for people with high blood pressure – Due to the low content of sodium and high potassium, it is excellent in the diet of people suffering from hypertension. Its diuretic effect, makes it suitable for people who retain water in the body.
Chestnut picking and storage
Chestnuts are on sale from October to March. Since chestnuts belong to the group of nuts, special attention should be paid to their storage. It is susceptible to oxidation when fats come in contact with moisture and air.
Choose larger fruits that are shiny and without holes in the shell. Store them in a cool place for up to two weeks. If holes appear during this period, remove the affected chestnut from the healthy one immediately.
Preparing chestnuts for eating
– Chestnut has an extremely pleasant sweet taste. It is used as a dessert, but also as an addition to savory dishes.
It is used raw, cooked or baked.
– Chestnut flour is used in Tuscan recipes as an addition to polenta, sweet bread, biscuits, cakes, soups or ice cream.
– In some kitchens, chestnuts are also used as sweet potatoes.
“Marron glace” is an extremely popular sweet in Europe. Coarsely peeled chestnuts are immersed in water. It is then dipped in vanilla and sugar syrup and heated. It should stay in the syrup for a few days. Afterwards, each chestnut is taken out of the syrup and dried in the heat or sun before packing.
Chestnut tree is related to beech and oak, long-lived, can grow up to 25 m in height with a lush, large canopy and can give over 200 kg of fruit per year. Its bark is smooth and gray-brown. It can reach an age of over 500 years. Botanists count chestnuts as fruits, but because of the way and place of growth, they also belong to forest trees.
Since the chestnut tree blooms late – in June and July, it is an excellent pasture for bees and then the only source of pollen and nectar. Chestnut honey has a beautiful light color, strong aroma, but a slightly bitter taste. It is very healing and helps with gastritis, protects the liver, and contributes to better circulation.
Wild chestnut or Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)
As a medicinal agent in phytotherapy is used wild chestnut bark, fruits and their skins, seeds, flowers.
Wild chestnut is well tested. The medicinal properties of wild chestnut are explained by its rich chemical composition.
The fruits of the wild chestnut contain toxic saponins, which give it a bitter taste. They are poisonous to humans.
Wild chestnut has taken its place in official medicine and its extract is used to make pharmacological preparations.
Wild chestnut has the following effects:
– Protects veins
– Tones veins: improves microcirculation in veins, eliminates spasms of blood vessels, lowers arterial pressure
– Antiplatelet effect: lowers blood viscosity
– Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, bactericidal action
– Antisclerotic: removes low-density cholesterol from blood vessels, dissolves cholesterol deposits
– Anticancer (antioxidant): removes harmful toxins, salts of heavy metals and radionuclides, used after chemotherapy
– Hemostatic: reduces capillary permeability
– Astringent effect: normalizes stomach acid, improves digestion
– Diuretic, decongestant effect.
Wild chestnut flowers contain flavonoids – derivatives of kaempferol and quercetin.
From ancient times, bookbinders used dried wild chestnut fruits, ground with flour and mixed with yeast to prepare a special bookbinding glue. Books, bound with such glue, were kept longer than others.