Choose chestnuts for a healthier diet

October 9, 2015

If you think chestnuts are only for roasting during the holidays, you're missing out on their delicate flavour and healthy benefits the rest of the year. Read on to learn how to prepare and enjoy this tasty, low-fat nut.

Choose chestnuts for a healthier diet

Get to know the benefits of chestnuts

The chestnut develops inside a prickly burr that is gathered after it falls from the tree in early autumn. It should not be confused with the horse chestnut, which is inedible. Unlike most other nuts, chestnuts are made up almost completely of carbohydrates and are low in fat and calories.

Chestnuts are also high in a number of important nutrients; A 725 gram to 1 kilogram (three to four cup) serving of chestnuts provides:

  • more than 40 percent of the adult Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C
  • 25 percent of the RDA of folate
  • some vitamin B6
  • 240 calories
  • three grams of protein
  • two grams of fat
  • more than 10 percent of the RDA for iron, phosphorus, riboflavin, and thiamine

Ways to cook with chestnuts

  • After chestnuts are picked, their starch begins to turn to sugar, giving the nuts their mild, sweet flavour
  • Chestnuts are almost always cooked, either by roasting or boiling, before they are eaten
  • When heated, the nuts swell and crack their thin, soft shells, which makes them very easy to peel
  • Chestnuts are often used in baked desserts. Roasted nuts can be dried and ground into flour that makes a rich, flavourful crust for tarts or pies. Boiled chestnuts, which have a consistency similar to that of potatoes, can be mashed or pureed to add to cake batter or used as a pastry filling
  • They are also served as part of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, either as a side dish or added to turkey stuffing
  • Marrons glacés, a delicacy available in gourmet shops, are peeled whole chestnuts preserved in a sweet syrup
  • Chestnuts are also commonly used in soups, salads, and pasta dishes, as well as in some liqueur desserts

Though they can be expensive and are sometimes difficult to find, chestnuts are worth seeking out for their unique flavour and important health benefits.

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