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  • Writer's pictureRoberta Scirea

The Health Benefits of Chestnuts and their heartwarming energy

Whether you enjoy them roasted on an open fire, oven baked, sprinkled over your dish or in the form of a dessert, they add texture and goodness to any dish.

Talking about chestnuts reminds us of autumn-winter days. Starchy, sweet, rich in flavor, chestnuts are popular edible nuts of the northern hemisphere origin.

What are chestnuts and where they come from?

Chestnuts are a true nut, compared to almonds or cashews, for example, which are in fact fruits. There are multiple varieties of chestnuts, with the European and Asian varieties being the most popular ones. They are native to the mountainous forests of China, Japan, Chestnut trees belong to the genus Castanea sativa which are native to humid temperate climates in mountainous regions of the northern hemisphere. Many of the species are large trees and are (or were) important components of the forest ecosystem. Chestnuts have been important food sources for wildlife, livestock, and humans. Three species of chestnut in particular, namely Chinese, Japanese, and European have been cultivated as tree crops for thousands of years. All species of chestnut can readily hybridize and produce fertile offspring. The chestnut tree tolerates low temperatures quite well and is only damaged when the thermometer drops below -25 ° C.

Widespread especially in the Middle Ages, the chestnut tree represented in the past a resource of considerable importance both for the production of timber and for its fruits, chestnuts, also called “bread of the poor”.

Health benefits of chestnuts

Chestnuts, unlike other nuts and seeds, are relatively low in fats. Nonetheless, they are rich sources of minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients and are particularly rich in carbohydrates, which make them an alternative to bread, pasta or flour also suitable for those suffering from celiac disease since they do not contain gluten. They are a particularly caloric fruit (100 g of chestnuts bring 174 calories) and for this reason they should be consumed in moderation between meals or replaced with other foods in the main meal. Chestnuts also contain all the B vitamins which are needed to help release energy from food, they are very rich in B1 and B2. Here are their benefits:

1. Boosts Immunity level

Chestnuts are loaded with antioxidants that help to boost our immunity naturally. They are exceptionally rich in vitamin-C (100 g nuts provide 43 mg of vitamin-C -72 % of DRI) and other antioxidant compounds like tannic, phenolic, fatty acids, vitamin A, zinc and copper which are vital in preventing the damages caused by free radicals present in our body. Vitamin C not only stimulates the production of white blood cells, but also acts as an antioxidant and neutralizes free radicals without creating oxidative stress and mutating healthy cells. In this way, the immune system can focus on the task of preventing pathogens and diseases.

2. Good for Digestive Health

Chestnuts can be helpful for digestion. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber (provide 8.1g per 100g -about 21% of RDI) that helps lower blood cholesterol levels by limiting excess cholesterol absorption in the intestines. Also, their high content of zinc, magnesium and tannins have a crucial role in improving our digestive health. Chestnut also contains water-insoluble fiber type that helps stimulate peristaltic movement in the intestines, thus regulating your bowel movements and preventing inflammation and discomfort.

3. Balances Electrolytes In The Body

The nuts are an excellent source of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc, besides providing a very good amount of potassium (518 mg per 100 g). Potassium is implicated in various physiological processes such as muscle contraction, maintaining a correct hydro-saline balance and regulating blood pressure.

4. Promotes Bone Health

The benefits of chestnuts include its power of strengthening the bones. Chestnuts contain copper (essential for bone growth and development in the process of body absorption of iron), calcium, phosphorous and magnesium.

These nutrients play an integral role in promoting bone health and you can prevent or slow the onset of many age-related illnesses such as osteoporosis.

Go Hiking to find them and enjoy the heartwarming experience

The prime months for harvesting chestnuts are October to November when they are most abundant. The ideal altitude for chestnuts is within the heights of 500 to 800 meters, where you will find endless forests of chestnuts there. Bring a pair of hiking boots, some gloves and a basket. Start by scanning the ground to look for the chestnut’s key characteristic, that is its prickly shell. When you find some, use your boots to gently roll the spiky shell until the chestnut is free so you can pick them up. Physical health can be greatly improved by hiking—and so can your mental health. Research continually shows that spending time outdoors, contributes to a healthy mind. A 2015 study from Stanford University found that time spent in nature calms the portion of the brain linked to mental illness and reduces your mind’s tendency toward negative thought patterns. Similarly, the journal “Environmental Science and Technology” published study results showing that outdoor exercise has a direct correlation to greater feelings of positivity and energy and fewer feelings of tension, anger and depression.

Chestnuts seem to have an innate ability to evoke the warmest memories in people. Either if you picked them up by yourself in the forest and you come back home to enjoy them, or if you buy roasted chestnuts at farmers markets , they reminisce us about being on holiday season or when we were kids... I don't know of any other food that seems to get such a warm reaction.  What is your image of chestnuts when you close your eyes? To me is an open fire and a glass of red wine with the feeling that I am warming myself to prepare for the cold season that is coming. Enjoy your own experience with them!

With Love,


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