Chestnut is known not only for the many proverbs, but also for its rich taste, which probably makes it one of the most beloved nuts. It's well known since ancient times and that's why in Greek it has given its name to the brown color ("kastano"). It is a beloved winter delicacy for young and old alike, and is used in countless vegan recipes and not only. It's one of the foods that combine rich flavor, nearly impossible for one not to like, but also many health benefits.
So let's get to know it.
The beloved chestnut tree is an ancient tree with a history from the Bronze Age! In the Middle Ages it was the food of the poor. It's tropical and originates from Oceania. We find it at an altitude of over 250 meters and it blooms in spring. The fruit ripens from September to November, and each tree can produce up to 50 kg of chestnuts. Chestnuts are harvested like olives. That is, by shaking the tree and collecting them in nets. The fruits are protected in a cupule that opens when they mature.
Nutrients and properties
Chestnut is a nutrient-rich food with many positive properties for the consumer. Specifically, it contains:
- Vitamins: B1, B2, C and folic acid, which contribute to the proper functioning of the nervous and immune system, the formation of red blood cells and the activation of metabolism. At the same time, they're natural antioxidants that protect our body from the very harmful free radicals (along with walnuts, they have the highest content of antioxidants).
- Minerals: calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, phosphorus that contribute to the proper development of bones and teeth, hair health, eye function, blood pressure and bowel function, water balance regulation of our body, and also have antidepressant properties.
- Proteins: protein building blocks are amino acids, some of which are essential in our diet, since the body cannot biosynthesize them. Chestnuts have significant amounts of these essential amino acids.
- Carbohydrates: they mainly contain amylum, which is an important source of energy for the body, at about 45% (twice of amylum contained in potatoes). Be careful of their calories, since 4 chestnuts have about as many calories as a slice of bread. However, they have a low glycemic index. So it's a good choice for people with diabetes or who have impaired glucose tolerance.
- Monounsaturated fatty acids: oleic and palmitoleic acid, which help reduce bad and increase good cholesterol, therefore, cardiovascular health. They accelerate the feeling of satiety, thereby reducing appetite and making it an ideal snack.
- Fiber: they help lower cholesterol and correct gastrointestinal function. So they also treat constipation.
They also have medicinal properties, since the chestnut skin has antipyretic activity, and its leaves are used to relieve the symptoms of pertussis.
So, chestnut can be a complete food for children, for those recovering from some illness, and for athletes.
Chestnut contains 47% of water.
How it is maintained
It is kept in the fridge for a long time, which depends on its variety and quality. It's easy to spot damaged chestnuts, especially after we remove their skin. When whole, after a long time, they soften and give a characteristic smell. They can also be kept in the freezer.
They're eaten in all possible ways: roasted, boiled, as a dessert, raw, even as flour. They are a favorite snack, especially in winter, and have been associated with Greek tradition as street food and as spoon sweet.
Boil them with their skin for about half an hour. Properly cooked chestnuts are relatively easy to clean while still hot. As they cool down, cleaning becomes a bit more time consuming.
Finally, they are connected to the Christmas dinner, where it can be an important ingredient for a vegan Christmas meal.
Chestnut is not just our winter companion in front of the fireplace. It's a nut, rich in important nutrients, with a unique flavor that can be combined with a variety of foods. You don't need to be persuaded to consume it, since you will surely do it anyway.