Incredibly healthy and nutritious, hazelnuts constitute one of the main ingredients in many savory and sweet dishes. Although native to Asia and Europe, the hazel trees are mostly found in the temperate regions of the world. The flesh of hazelnuts is white in color, and has slightly sweet taste. Toasting the nuts before using them helps to enhance their subtle flavor. Hazelnuts are used on a large scale in chocolate industry for making various products such as chocolate truffles. Hazelnut oil has a strong flavor and is used a cooking oil. Hazelnuts are packed with nutrition and provide numerous health benefits, which makes them a great addition to your daily diet.
Nutritional value of Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts are rich in a wide variety of numerous nutrients that help optimize your health. They are high in energy, protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and various health-benefiting antioxidant phytonutrients. They are also rich in monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid and linoleic acid that improve your health in many ways. These fatty acids offer protection to your heart by lowering bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and increasing good cholesterol levels (HDL). Hazelnuts contain good amounts of vitamins like vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and B group vitamins – niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and folate. They also provide a long list of minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Hazelnuts are free from gluten, and hence are safe for people suffering from celiac disease.
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Health benefits of Hazelnuts
In addition to being a delicious treat, hazelnuts provide you with an extensive range of health benefits. They are rich in proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They are also loaded with healthy fats that can improve the health of your cardiovascular system. Hazelnuts also contain a high amount of phytosterols, which have powerful antioxidant properties. Given below are a few of the health benefits of hazelnuts:
Cardiovascular benefits of hazelnuts
As mentioned before, hazelnuts are rich sources of unsaturated fats, which are very much good for the heart. These fats have been found to help in lowering the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol and raise the levels of good cholesterol or HDL. A single cup of hazelnuts can provide you with almost half of the daily recommended amount of magnesium. This mineral, in addition to regulating the levels of calcium in the muscles, helps keep the heart from straining too much by promoting healthy contractions. The high levels of potassium in hazelnuts help reduce high blood pressure by acting as a vasodilator as well as neutralizing the effects of sodium. According to a studies, eating hazelnuts on a regular basis helps to reduce the chances of heart attack death by about 50%.
Hazelnuts prevent cancer
Hazelnuts are rich in antioxidants that help in fighting off the free radicals that are responsible of causing damages to the cells and DNA, which may lead to cancer. Studies indicate that vitamin E in hazelnuts help in reducing the risk of bladder cancer by 50%. Manganese is an important mineral found in hazelnut that plays a major role in protecting the body against cancer. Beta-sitosterol, a compound found in hazelnuts has been found to reduce the risks of breast and prostate cancer. Researchers in the US have found that hazelnuts contain the chemical paclitaxel, which is the active ingredient in the anti-cancer drug Taxol.
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Hazelnuts for beautiful skin
The high levels of nutrients in hazelnut provide several benefits for the skin as well. Hazelnut oil is an excellent moisturizer that has astringent properties and help in preventing acne. It contains healthy flavonoids like catechins and tannins that smoothes and tones the skin. They absorb excess oils and the antibacterial properties of hazelnut fight against the skin bacteria and helps reduce acne and pimples. The natural fats in these nuts hydrate and condition skin, and help reduce the appearance of aging signs like fine lines and wrinkles. Regular use of hazelnut oil will provide an anti-aging effect on the skin, helping it to look more youthful and vibrant. Hazelnuts also provide protection from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. The various nutrients and antioxidants in hazelnuts rejuvenate the skin and provide all the nourishment it needs.
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Hazelnuts improve muscle strength
Magnesium, a mineral found in Hazelnuts is essential for regulating the muscle functions of your body. It plays a key role in the contraction and relaxation of muscles. It also helps regulate the amount of calcium in the body. Deficiency of magnesium has been known to cause severe cramping. Magnesium in hazelnuts ensures improved muscle health and helps prevent muscle related dysfunction. It also helps in treating muscle spasms, chronic pain, muscle fatigue, cramps, and soreness.
Hazelnuts for bones and joints
Calcium, magnesium and manganese are some of the minerals that form the building block of our bones. Hazelnuts are rich in all these minerals and so its regular consumption ensures strong and healthy bones. Magnesium is involved in regulating the release of calcium and its distribution, which in turn helps prevent bone disorders like osteoporosis. Magnesium is used by the body for building the structure and improving the strength of the skeletal system. Hazelnuts are rich in manganese, a mineral that is needed for the growth and strength of bones and for increasing the density of bones, and preventing osteoporosis.
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Hair benefits of hazelnut
Hazelnuts provide great nourishment to your hair as well. The oil obtained from these nuts has been used for improving the health of hair as well as in treating hair and scalp problems. The nutrients in hazelnuts nourish the hair roots and promote the growth of health and beautiful hair. They also help in maintaining the shine and luster of the hair. Hazelnuts are often used in various coloring agents as a natural ingredient. Along with imparting a beautiful brown color to the hair strands, hazelnut also ensures that the color lasts longer. It also offers extra protection by conditioning the hair, thus preventing damages caused by the use of chemicals. Applying hazelnut oil on the hair helps reduce split ends and prevents hair fall too.
Hazelnuts improve the health of nervous system
Hazelnuts are excellent brain foods because that helps boost the health of your brain. These nuts are rich in Vitamin B6, which is essential for the formation of the myelin sheath, which helps the nervous system function properly by increasing the speed and efficiency of electrical impulses. Hazel nuts are also needed for the synthesis of neurotransmitters like serotonin, melatonin, and epinephrine. The high levels of vitamin E prevent free radical damage and also prevents cognitive decline due to aging.
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Hazelnuts offer the benefits of folate
Hazelnuts are a great source of folate, which is also known as Vitamin B12. This vitamin is a vital for the repair of cells as well as for ensuring a healthy growth of fetus during the initial months of pregnancy. The development of the brain and spine of the fetus requires erythrocytes and for this folate is needed. Folate is essential for the formation of red and white blood cells. It also helps in preventing various age related degenerative conditions associated with the brain. This vitamin is widely used in treating mental problems like depression. Folate not only helps keep the cells healthy also supports the formation of cells and thus keeps the brain from ageing.
Hazelnuts help control diabetes
Studies reveal that eating nuts like hazelnuts could help in controlling type 2 diabetes and also in preventing the complications associated with the condition. Hazelnuts help manage diabetes by improving blood glucose levels and by lowering the levels of bad cholesterol or LDL. These nuts are rich in manganese that helps boost the metabolism of the body, allowing your body to absorb the nutrients at a faster rate. They also help reduce spikes in blood sugar levels. The consumption of hazelnuts on a regular basis has been found to be beneficial in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes.
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Hazelnuts prevent anemia
Hazelnuts provide about 36% of our daily recommended value of iron. This mineral is required for the formation of hemoglobin that helps in transporting blood to all parts of the body. A deficiency of iron can lead to the development of conditions like iron deficiency anemia, which is characterized by symptoms like fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath etc.
Hazelnuts for digestive health
The high levels of manganese in hazelnuts help improve the metabolism of carbohydrates and protein. Moreover, these nuts are rich in dietary fiber that promote regularity in bowel movements and prevents digestive problems like constipation, indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome. Hazelnuts also help balance the bacteria in the stomach, which is necessary for maintaining a healthy digestive system.
Hazelnuts have several health benefits as they are full of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that help your body maintain good health. Hazelnut oil has a nutty fragrance and has astringent properties. It is used as cooking oil and as carrier oil in aromatherapy, massage therapy, and in cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. Hazelnuts are considered a heart healthy food owing to their amazing nutritional profile and health benefits.Image Credits: Wikimedia