Importance of carbohydrates in the diet
Almost half of the composition of chestnuts is made up of carbohydrates. This makes chestnuts an ideal energy food to calm hunger in the cool days of autumn when the fruit is collected or sold roasted on the streets, in winter. We might think that chestnuts make us get very fat and we may be tempted not to eat them not to become fat or in case of weight-loss diets.
Actually, chestnuts are one of the less caloric nuts, because its fat content is very low and also due to the the great amount of water it contains. When compared with walnuts, the difference is really big. The latter have three times more calories, only 4% water, 60% fat and is very low in carbohydrates (less than 14%). This does not mean that walnuts are bad. On the contrary, their wealth in polyunsaturated vegetable oils makes them a natural medicine, although it is true that, at equal weight, nuts, like all other dried fruits, are much more fattening than chestnuts.
Advantages of carbohydrates versus fats
We must not forget the role that carbohydrates play in the diet. Carbohydrates should be considered as the most important energy source. Unfortunately, in recent times the trend has been the contrary. Because of misinformation, many starchy foods such as wheat, potatoes or rice, have attained a very bad reputation in Western countries and in many developing ones . So, they have been substituted for fats.
The calorific value of fat is more than twice that of carbohydrates (just 9 calories per gram in fat and 4 kilocalories per gram in carbohydrates). Therefore, if we eat the same quantity of fat than carbohydrates, we will ingest double calories eating fatty food than if we eat carbs. Besides, most of fats we take are from the saturated type, which are responsible for the appearance of numerous diseases of the circulatory system.
On the other hand, one should not forget that carbohydrates constitute the unique fuel with which the brain can work once the body breaks them down into glucose . A diet deficient in carbohydrates may be responsible for the appearance of numerous anomalies, such as nervousness, anxiety, lack of attention, etc.
Complex carbohydrates versus simple carbohydrates.
A very strict diet of complex carbohydrates (those that are provided by starches, cereals, legumes or certain foods such as chestnuts) or a strict diet based on single carbohydrates (those provided by fruit or candy) is responsible for hypoglycemia leading to a state of weakness and general apathy. Within the group of carbohydrates, the complex ones are the most interesting because they release glucose more slowly in the blood stream and allow the brain and the body in general to keep its energy in a controlled way for longer.
Chestnuts are rich in complex carbohydrates which can be absorbed by the body in a slow way, so they help keep sugar levels balanced and remove the feeling of hunger for a long time. A handful of roasted or cooked chestnuts can help avoid eating other foods high in fat and therefore, when eaten in moderation, they can help you to lose weight. They are ideal for sportsmen, children in growth period or hard physical workers.
Its high fiber content makes them very interesting to prevent constipation and to favor the expulsion of lees.
Chestnuts are rich in potassium and vitamin B
Chestnuts have abundant vitamin B, which can only be fully assimilated when eaten raw because cooking destroys it. More interesting is its content in potassium and iron, a very important mineral because of its properties to control fluid retention and to promote diuresis. Potassium is also necessary for the body to convert carbohydrates into glycogen (a reserve of carbohydrates in the liver) or for the synthesis of proteins. Potassium is very interesting to prevent hypertension.
Iron, on the other hand, is necessary for hemoglobin production. Adequate levels of iron are needed to prevent anemia.
Anti-prostatic properties of chestnuts
Chesnuts contanin a lot of zinc, a very important antiprostate component. Its use avoids the uncontrolled enlargement of this gland (Eat crude chestnuts).
Are chestnuts digestive? How to cook chestnuts?
Chestnuts have always had a reputation for being poorly digestible food. This thinking is partly justified. The digestion of food rich in carbohydrates requires good salivation: they should be chewed carefully so they can be digested well. Therefore, it is inadvisable to eat them in purees.
We must not forget that raw and tender chestnuts are rich in tannins, so eating them in this state can cause intestinal discomfort. It is desirable for the chestnuts collected in the forest to be stored for 7 or 10 days to reduce their tannin content so that their starch can be converted in more assimilated sugars. In case of eating raw chestnuts, one should remove the brown skin that is immediately under the bark.
Chestnuts cooking helps the processing of carbohydrates and converts them into a more palatable food, avoiding the appearance of flatulence that normally accompanies the ingestion of raw nuts. When chestnuts are cooked, the skin can be removed more easily.
The most common way to cook them is roasting them on an iron plate or pan. Previously, a cut must be done in their skin to prevent them from exploding. As they are being roasted, they must be removed continuously so as not to burn them. They should not be eaten too hot.
Roasted chestnuts are usually sold in winter, during Christmas, in the streets of big cities by people who have a chestnut booth on the sidewalks of major streets. If cooked well, they are very tasty and aromatic.
Another way to prepare them is in a pan of boiling water. To do this, as in the roasted chestnuts, we must cut them slightly and leave them in boiling salted water for three quarters of an hour. Later, when they have cooled, their crust must be removed.
No less interesting are the chestnuts when prepared as accompaniment with fish or meat, as a garnish.
Selection and storage of chestnuts
When buying chestnuts in the market, it is important to choose those with smooth skin, free from blemishes or cuts and firm to the touch. These are collected from October to December. In addition to the raw or roasted chestnut, we can use those that are sold fresh or canned and sweetened. Particularly famous are the " Marrons glacés", covered with egg and sugar glaze.
Tender chestnuts should be stored in a cool, dry place outdoors. They should not be kept in waterproof bags because they can oxidize. Stored in the fridge, they can hold up to 1 month at room temperature or up to four months if they are frozen with the crust.
Dried chestnuts can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of months. Frozen and stored in sealed container, they can be kept up to half a year. To retrieve them, they should be immersed in water for an hour before cooking. This process, in addition to thaw them , allows them to hydrate and recover their original state.
Cooked chestnuts endure three to four days in the refrigerator and, if frozen and stored in an airtight container in the freezer, they can hold up to nine months.
Composition of the chestnuts by each 100 gr.
||48, 6 g
||2, 26 g
||2, 42 g
||45, 54 g
||8, 1 g
||1, 01 mgs
||0, 44 mgs
||0, 52 mgs
||0, 95 mcg
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
||0, 238 mgs
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
||0, 168 mgs
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
||1, 179 mgs
||0, 376 mgs
More information on the chestnut tree in the listing above