Published: 12/11/2005 - Updated: 08/13/2019
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei
The origin of the hazelnut is Asia, where its cultivation spread to Europe. Represents one of the oldest food crops and their European varieties are the most important. In prehistory it was attributed with nutrition, healing and divinatory, and water-diviners used hazel branches to find hidden treasures and water in the subsoil.
Small tree that does not exceed 10 m. tall, often with bushy growth habit and length of 3-6 m. high. Bark greyish-brown or reddish gray, smooth or slightly cracked on the bottom, cracked with age. Measuring 5-10 cm. long and 4-9 cm. wide. Doubly serrated margins, sometimes slightly lobed. Make glabrous, dark green with hairs on the underside. Early flowering simultaneously. Men's pendants, 5 cm. long, yellowish, appearing in the previous autumn. Female smaller, ovoid, brown, resembling leaf buds. Hazelnuts covered by an involucre of two bracts that just over the green fruit. Hazelnuts of 1.5-2 cm. in diameter, arranged in groups of 1-5.
Scientific name: Corylus avellana.
Etymology: Corylus , the Greek name of hazel. Avellana, avellanus-a-um , Avella Vecchia, near Naples (Italy)
Composition and health benefits
Nutrition information (per 100 gr. Raw):
- 13gr of protein
- 65gr of fat
- 5gr of carbohydrate
- 10gr of Fiber
- Calories: 650
- Vitamins A, E (25 mg) and Ac. Folic.
- Minerals: calcium (140 mg) and magnesium
Researchers and clinicians agree in saying, based on epidemiological and clinical studies, that the Mediterranean diet is recommended to preserve the welfare and health. Experts have put food nuts, and therefore the nut at the base of the food guide pyramid of the Mediterranean Diet along with the recommended daily food consumption. This recognition has broken with the false image of nuts such as unhealthy foods.
Hazelnuts have a very high level of energy but their principal source of health is high in mono and polyunsaturated fats, healthy fats with preventive effects of cardiovascular disease; its rich nutritional supplements with fiber, vitamins, minerals and trace elements.
Hazelnuts are a very convenient and healthy food that is consumed without specifying large meals and is an excellent complement in pastry.
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Hazelnuts, like all plants, have no cholesterol. The vegetable protein is of very good quality, as it contains a high proportion of arginine, which is a type of amino acid that develops an important role for the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system.
Hazelnuts also provide lots of healthy minerals such as copper, the manganese, the calcium, the potassium and phosphorus. Hazelnuts contain much fiber plants, mostly insoluble, which benefits the intestinal transit and prevents constipation.
Fatty acids in hazelnuts are mostly unsaturated and monounsaturated type, they are rich in oleic acid which is converted into "authentic natural capsules of olive oil," so they bring great benefits for the heart and general health, since they reduce cholesterol levels.
Hazelnuts are a good source of natural vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant in the tissues of the human body and also provide substantial amounts of B vitamins, such as B6 and folic acid. A serving of 30 g of hazelnuts contribute 9% of the recommended daily amount of folic acid, important for a healthy pregnancy and newborn health.
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Many studies conclude that habitual consumption of hazelnuts is recommended for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases such as arteriosclerosis, heart disease and hypercholesterolemia, and helping increase life expectancy. It is also important for those who require a great physical effort.
Recently, epidemiological studies have shown that eating nuts replace other sources of fat intake, does not increase body weight, disproving the cliché that nuts are fattening.
The recommended amount is about 25 g per day, five times a week, optimal for enhancing the benefits eat hazelnuts as snacks, with ice cream in cakes, sauces, salads and dishes, and breakfast along with cereals, yogurt or fruit.
Different studies show that individuals who frequently consume nuts, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Cooking with hazelnuts
There are various forms of presentation:
- Shell: hazelnuts harvested and completely natural, without subjecting to any treatment.
- Whole: entire purchase, but once removed the hard shell that covers.
- Toasted: in shell or not, is passing through the roasting process.
One of the discoveries is the development of a drink is obtained by grinding the nuts and mixing them with water. Like the soy beverage, it is a healthy alternative for those suffering from lactose intolerance. Also oil is extracted is rich in nutrients.
Used as appetizer, with or without almonds or peanuts, it is also usual ingredient of sauces for meat. Do not forget its wide use in the bakery: traditional sweets, cakes or puddings are delicious and very nutritious. It also came with chocolate bonbons, tablets and nougat.
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