Hazelnuts, with their rich, buttery flavour and delightful crunch, have been enjoyed for centuries as a versatile and nutritious food. Not only do they add a delightful taste to various culinary creations, but hazelnuts also offer a wide range of health benefits that contribute to overall well-being. Whether enjoyed as a standalone snack, incorporated into recipes, or used to enhance the nutritional value of meals, hazelnuts are a true nutritional powerhouse.
In this article, we will delve into the world of hazelnuts and explore their impressive nutritional profile. We will uncover the essential nutrients packed within these small wonders and examine the scientific evidence supporting their health benefits. Additionally, we will compare hazelnuts to other popular nuts, discuss their role in a balanced diet, and explore the diverse culinary uses of hazelnuts.
By the end of this article, you will have a deeper understanding of why hazelnuts are not only a delicious treat but also a valuable addition to a healthy lifestyle. So, let’s embark on a journey to discover the nutritional treasures hidden within hazelnuts and uncover how they can contribute to your health and wellness goals.
An Overview Of Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are edible nuts native to Europe and have been cultivated and enjoyed for their flavour and nutritional benefits for centuries. Today, hazelnuts are widely consumed around the world and cherished for their distinctive taste and versatility.
Appearance: Hazelnuts are small, round nuts that typically measure around 1.5 to 2 centimetres in diameter. They have a hard, woody shell that encloses the edible kernel or meat. The shell is usually light brown in colour and has a rough, textured surface. Once cracked open, the kernel inside is creamy white or pale yellow in colour.
Taste: Hazelnuts have a unique and pleasant flavour that combines nutty, buttery, and slightly sweet notes. Their taste is often described as rich and earthy, with a hint of sweetness. When roasted, hazelnuts develop a deeper, more intense flavour profile, enhancing their natural sweetness and adding a delightful aroma.
The delightful taste and distinct crunch of hazelnuts make them a popular choice for both sweet and savoury dishes. They can be enjoyed raw, roasted, or incorporated into various culinary preparations, ranging from desserts and baked goods to salads, sauces, and spreads.
Nutritional Profile Of Hazelnuts
According to USDA, 100 grams of hazelnuts contain the following nutrients
Calories: 600 kcal
Protein: 16.67 g
Fat: 53.33 g
Carbohydrate: 16.67 g
Fibre: 13.3 g
Total Saturated Fatty Acids: 3.33 g
Calcium: 133 mg
Iron: 4.8 mg
Health Benefits Of Consuming Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts are packed with essential nutrients that offer numerous health benefits. Let’s explore the detailed advantages of incorporating hazelnuts into your diet:
1. Heart Health
Hazelnuts are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, specifically oleic acid. Research links this fatty acid to reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and improved cardiovascular health. By lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels, hazelnuts can help lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.
2. Antioxidant Powerhouse
Hazelnuts are a great source of antioxidants, including vitamin E, which according to research, protects cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Studies show that antioxidants help reduce inflammation, prevent chronic diseases, and promote overall health and well-being. The potent antioxidant properties of hazelnuts contribute to their anti-inflammatory effects and may help reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders.
3. Weight Management
Despite being calorie-dense, hazelnuts can support weight management. The combination of healthy fats, fibre, and protein in hazelnuts helps increase satiety and reduce hunger cravings, leading to better appetite control. Including hazelnuts as part of a balanced diet can help manage weight by preventing overeating and promoting a feeling of fullness.
4. Brain Health and Cognitive Function
Hazelnuts contain vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that plays a crucial role in maintaining brain health and cognitive function. As per studies, Vitamin E helps protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline, including conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. Consuming vitamin E-rich foods like hazelnuts can support brain health and preserve cognitive abilities.
5. Bone Health
Hazelnuts are a good source of several minerals essential for bone health, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Research proves these minerals contribute to the development and maintenance of strong and healthy bones. Adequate intake of these minerals, combined with hazelnuts’ vitamin K content, can help prevent bone loss, osteoporosis, and fractures.
Read More: Super Foods For Healthy Bones
6. Digestive Health
Hazelnuts are an excellent source of dietary fibre, which promotes healthy digestion and regulates bowel movements. According to reports by the Harvard School Of Public Health, fibre adds bulk to the stool, preventing constipation and supporting regularity. Additionally, fibre acts as a prebiotic, providing nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria, which supports a healthy gut microbiome and overall digestive well-being.
7. Blood Pressure Regulation
Hazelnuts are naturally low in sodium and high in potassium, minerals that help regulate blood pressure. Scientific studies show that potassium acts as a vasodilator, relaxing blood vessels and reducing the strain on the cardiovascular system. By maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, hazelnuts contribute to heart health and lower the risk of hypertension and related complications.
8. Diabetes Management
Hazelnuts have a low glycemic index, meaning they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. The combination of healthy fats, fibre, and protein in hazelnuts helps regulate blood glucose levels, making them a suitable choice for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition. Including hazelnuts as part of a balanced diet can help maintain stable blood sugar levels.
9. Eye Health
Hazelnuts contain important nutrients for eye health, including vitamin E, vitamin C, and certain antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients help protect the eyes from oxidative stress, reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and promote overall eye health and visual acuity.
10. Improved Skin Health
The antioxidants found in hazelnuts, such as vitamin E and other phytochemicals, help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals and UV radiation. Studies show these antioxidants contribute to the maintenance of healthy skin, reducing signs of ageing, promoting skin elasticity, and supporting a radiant complexion.
Hazelnuts offer a range of health benefits, including improving heart health, providing antioxidant protection, aiding in weight management, supporting brain function, promoting bone health, enhancing digestion, regulating blood pressure, assisting in diabetes management, benefiting eye health, and improving skin health. They are a nutrient-dense food packed with healthy fats, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Including hazelnuts in your diet can contribute to overall well-being and help prevent various chronic diseases.
Hazelnuts and Nutritional Comparison with Other Nuts
Hazelnuts stand out among other nuts with their unique nutritional composition. Let’s compare hazelnuts with popular nuts to highlight their distinct advantages:
I. Hazelnuts vs. Almonds
While both hazelnuts and almonds are nutrient-dense, hazelnuts have a higher amount of vitamin E, folate, and copper compared to almonds. Hazelnuts also contain more monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health. Almonds, on the other hand, have a slightly higher protein content and provide more calcium and magnesium.
II. Hazelnuts vs. Walnuts
Walnuts are known for their high omega-3 fatty acid content, which is beneficial for brain health. However, hazelnuts have higher amounts of vitamin E, folate, and copper compared to walnuts. Hazelnuts also contain more monounsaturated fats and fibre, while walnuts have a higher omega-3 fatty acid content.
III. Hazelnuts vs. Cashews
Hazelnuts and cashews differ in their nutritional profiles. Hazelnuts contain more fibre, vitamin E, folate, and copper than cashews. Cashews, on the other hand, provide more iron and zinc compared to hazelnuts. Cashews also have a lower fat content overall.
IV. Hazelnuts vs. Pistachios
Pistachios are lower in calories compared to hazelnuts and contain more protein and potassium. However, hazelnuts have higher amounts of vitamin E, folate, and copper. Hazelnuts also contain more monounsaturated fats and dietary fibre compared to pistachios.
It’s important to note that each nut variety offers unique health benefits and nutrient profiles. Incorporating a variety of nuts into your diet can provide a broader range of essential nutrients and health advantages.
The Versatility of Hazelnuts in Sweet and Savory Dishes
Hazelnuts are incredibly versatile and can be used in a wide range of sweet and savoury dishes, adding a delightful flavour, texture, and nutritional value. Let’s explore their culinary potential in various preparations:
Baked Goods: Hazelnuts are a popular ingredient in baked goods, adding a rich, nutty flavour. They can be used in cookies, cakes, muffins, and breads. Hazelnut flour or meal can be used as a gluten-free alternative or as an addition to enhance the texture and taste of baked goods.
Nut Butter and Spreads: Hazelnuts are the star ingredient in the beloved hazelnut spread, Nutella. You can also make homemade hazelnut butter by blending roasted hazelnuts until smooth. These spreads can be enjoyed on toast, or pancakes, or used as a filling for pastries and desserts.
Granola and Trail Mix: Adding chopped hazelnuts to granola or trail mix provides a satisfying crunch and nutty flavour. They pair well with other nuts, dried fruits, and grains, creating a nutritious and energy-packed snack.
Salads: Toasted or roasted hazelnuts make an excellent addition to salads, adding a delightful crunch and nutty taste. They work well in green salads, grain-based salads, or even fruit salads, adding texture and depth of flavour.
Sauces and Dressings: Ground or finely chopped hazelnuts can be used to make delicious sauces and dressings. They can be incorporated into pesto, vinaigrettes, or creamy sauces, adding a unique nuttiness and enhancing the overall flavour profile.
Roasted and Seasoned Snacks: Roasting hazelnuts intensifies their flavour and makes them an irresistible snack. Toss them with spices like cinnamon, cayenne pepper, or rosemary, and roast them for a flavorful and nutritious snack option.
Nutty Coating or Crust: Ground hazelnuts can be used as a coating or crust for meats, poultry, fish, or even tofu. They add a delicious flavour and a crispy texture when pan-fried or oven-baked.
Vegetable Dishes: Hazelnuts can elevate vegetable dishes by adding a satisfying crunch and nuttiness. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts on roasted vegetables, steamed greens, or sautéed dishes for a flavorful twist.
Desserts: Hazelnuts are a staple in many classic desserts. They can be used in pies, tarts, tortes, and chocolates, providing a delightful flavour and texture. From hazelnut cakes to hazelnut pralines, the possibilities are endless in the realm of sweet treats.
With their versatility, hazelnuts can transform both sweet and savoury dishes into culinary delights. Whether you’re looking to add a nutty crunch to a salad or create a delectable hazelnut-infused dessert, hazelnuts can be your go-to ingredient for a range of creative and delicious recipes.
Considerations and Precautions
When incorporating hazelnuts into your diet or considering their use in recipes, it’s important to keep the following considerations and precautions in mind:
Allergies: Hazelnut allergies are relatively common, and individuals with known nut allergies should avoid hazelnuts and hazelnut-containing products. Be aware of the symptoms of an allergic reaction and seek immediate medical attention if any symptoms occur.
Gastrointestinal Disorders: People with certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), may find that hazelnuts exacerbate their symptoms. In such cases, it may be best to avoid or limit hazelnut consumption.
Kidney Stones: Hazelnuts contain oxalates, which can contribute to the formation of kidney stones in susceptible individuals. If you have a history of kidney stones, it’s advisable to moderate your hazelnut intake and consult with a healthcare professional.
Portion Control: Hazelnuts are calorie-dense and can contribute to weight gain if consumed in excessive amounts. Practice portion control when enjoying hazelnuts as a snack or adding them to recipes. Stick to recommended serving sizes to maintain a balanced diet.
Storage: Hazelnuts have a relatively high-fat content, which makes them susceptible to rancidity. Store hazelnuts properly in an airtight container in a cool, dark place to maintain freshness. Consider storing them in the refrigerator or freezer for a longer shelf life.
Preparation Methods: Roasting hazelnuts can enhance their flavour and texture. However, excessive roasting can lead to the formation of acrylamide, a potentially harmful substance. Roast hazelnuts at moderate temperatures and avoid overcooking.
Variety and Quality: Different varieties of hazelnuts may have varying flavour profiles and nutritional compositions. Experiment with different varieties to find the one that suits your taste preferences. Choose high-quality hazelnuts to ensure optimal taste and nutritional value.
When incorporating hazelnuts into your diet, consider the following: be cautious of hazelnut allergies and potential cross-contamination; practice portion control due to their calorie density; store hazelnuts properly to maintain freshness; avoid excessive roasting to minimize acrylamide formation; explore different varieties and choose high-quality hazelnuts; consult with healthcare professionals for individual health considerations; and maintain a balanced diet by incorporating a variety of nutrient-dense foods.
Hazelnuts are no doubt a wonder food. An interesting additional fact about hazelnuts is that they can actually help women who are struggling with estrogen dominance. Due to their rich Vitamin E content, progesterone levels increase which in turn helps regulate the menstrual cycle, supporting fertility and even the developing foetus.
So, from improving female sex hormones to being a brain food to a heart-healthy food to improving skin and much much more, hazelnuts benefit all who include these marvels of nature into the weekly menu; of course, being judicious in the portions as they do pack a punch in both nutrients and calories.
In conclusion, hazelnuts are a nutrient-packed powerhouse that offers numerous health benefits. From promoting heart health and providing antioxidant protection to supporting weight management and enhancing brain function, hazelnuts are a valuable addition to a balanced diet. Their versatility in both sweet and savoury dishes allows for creative culinary exploration. However, it’s important to be mindful of allergies, practice portion control, and consider individual health considerations. By incorporating hazelnuts responsibly and with proper precautions, you can enjoy their delicious taste and reap the many advantages they have to offer. So go ahead and embrace the goodness of hazelnuts for a healthier and tastier lifestyle.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information please contact our certified nutritionists Here
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Is hazelnut grown in India?
A: No, hazelnuts are not commonly grown in India. They are primarily grown in regions with a temperate climate, such as Turkey, Italy, and the United States.
Q: What are the benefits of hazelnuts?
A: Hazelnuts have several health benefits. They are a good source of healthy fats, protein, fibre, and various vitamins and minerals. Hazelnuts are rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. They also contain vitamin E, folate, and other nutrients that support heart health, brain function, and overall well-being.
Q: Is it OK to eat hazelnuts every day?
A: Yes, it is generally safe to eat hazelnuts every day as part of a balanced diet. However, like any food, hazelnuts should be consumed in moderation. They are calorie-dense and high in fat, so it’s important to consider portion sizes to avoid excessive calorie intake. If you have any specific health concerns or dietary restrictions, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian.
Q: Who should not eat hazelnuts?
A: While hazelnuts are generally safe for consumption, there are a few groups of people who may need to avoid or limit their intake. Individuals with hazelnut allergies should avoid consuming hazelnuts or products containing hazelnuts. Additionally, those with certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), may find that hazelnuts exacerbate their symptoms. In such cases, it may be best to avoid or limit hazelnut consumption. Furthermore, hazelnuts contain oxalates, which can contribute to the formation of kidney stones in susceptible individuals. If you have a history of kidney stones, it’s advisable to moderate your hazelnut intake and consult with a healthcare professional.
Q: How many hazelnuts should you eat a day?
Hazelnuts, although small in size are calorie dense due to their high-fat content, Thus it is advisable to be extra cautious while helping yourself to these crunchy wonders; The recommended intake of hazelnuts is between 1-2 ounces which equates to 15-20 hazelnuts. Do weigh out your portions and take into consideration your entire day’s menu and calorific count before consuming them.
Q: Is hazelnut a Makhana?
A: No, hazelnut and makhana (also known as fox nuts or lotus seeds) are different foods. Hazelnuts are the nuts of the hazel tree, while makhana refers to the popped seeds of the lotus flower. They have different nutritional profiles and taste characteristics.
Q: Can diabetics eat hazelnuts?
A: Yes, hazelnuts can be a healthy food choice for individuals with diabetes. They have a low glycemic index, which means they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. The fibre and healthy fats in hazelnuts can help regulate blood sugar levels and promote satiety. However, it’s important for individuals with diabetes to consider the overall carbohydrate content of their meals and snacks, including hazelnuts, and to monitor their blood sugar levels accordingly.
Q: Is hazelnut groundnut?
A: No, hazelnut and groundnut are two different types of nuts. Hazelnuts are the nuts of the hazel tree, while groundnuts are also known as peanuts. They belong to different plant families and have distinct characteristics, flavours, and nutritional profiles.
Q: Do hazelnuts have vitamin D?
A: Hazelnuts are not a significant source of vitamin D. While hazelnuts contain some vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E, folate, and magnesium, they do not naturally provide vitamin D in significant amounts. Vitamin D is primarily obtained from sunlight exposure and certain foods like fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and egg yolks.
Q: How do you eat hazelnuts?
A: Hazelnuts can be enjoyed in various ways, such as:
Raw: You can eat hazelnuts raw as a snack. They have a slightly sweet and nutty flavour.
Roasted: Roasting hazelnuts enhance their flavour. You can roast them in the oven at around 350°F (175°C) for about 10-15 minutes, or until they become fragrant and golden brown. Allow them to cool before eating.
Nut butter: Hazelnuts can be ground into creamy nut butter, commonly known as hazelnut butter or Nutella (a popular hazelnut and chocolate spread).
Baking: Hazelnuts can be used in baking recipes like cookies, cakes, and bread for added crunch and flavour.
Q: Can you eat hazelnuts raw?
A: Yes, hazelnuts can be eaten raw. They are safe for consumption without any additional cooking or processing. However, some people prefer the flavour and texture of roasted hazelnuts, as roasting can enhance their taste.
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Role of Antioxidants and Natural Products in Inflammation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5075620/
Effects of Vitamin E on Cognitive Performance during Ageing and in Alzheimer’s Disease: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4276978/#:~:text=Vitamin%20E%20is%20an%20important,a%20major%20contributor%20to%20neurodegeneration.
The Effects of Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Fluoride, and Lead on Bone Tissue: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8066206/
Role of potassium in regulating blood flow and blood pressure: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16467502/
Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/