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Hazelnuts are usually underdogs when it comes to popular nuts used in recipes and eaten alone. However, as long as you're not allergic to them, they can provide several benefits to your health. Their high vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidant levels work to improve blood sugar levels, regulate your cholesterol, and improve bone health. Read on to find out how to make the most of them and how exactly hazelnuts benefit your body!
Hazelnuts, like most nuts and seeds, have high concentrations of nutrients. As a reference, take a small handful of hazelnuts (about 16 nuts or 22 grams). In just this little portion, you'll find 1.3 grams of protein and 1.1 grams of fiber, as well as healthy levels of phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and Vitamin E. What's best, these nuts can provide your body with a large portion of the recommended daily manganese intake.
When it comes to your bones, you may feel surprised to learn that hazelnuts can play a helpful role in their strengthening and recovery. As these nuts are rich in essential nutrients such as magnesium and calcium, which are important for bone health, your body will be benefited in this area as well. Magnesium, for instance, will provide your bones with help to grow and stay stronger.
Hazelnuts are a good source of B Vitamins including Folate, which is essential for red blood cell production. They contain B1 (Thiamine) and B3 (Niacin), both of which work to maintain your nervous system healthily and working. In addition to this, B2 (Riboflavin) is also present and will help your body improve your skin and eye health.
One of the aspects in which hazelnuts stand out is in their high concentrations of antioxidants. These are compounds that protect your body against the oxidation of cells and reduce the extent of cell damage from free radicals. All in all, they work as a protection against aging, heart disease, high blood cholesterol, and cancer. Keep in mind that the concentration of the antioxidants is at its highest on unroasted kernels and their skins.
Eating hazelnuts may also help reduce cholesterol levels, thanks to the antioxidants and healthy fats present in this food. One study found that a hazelnut-rich diet decreased the participants’ levels of LDL cholesterol, the type of cholesterol that can increase the risk of heart-related health problems. As opposed to this, the "good" cholesterol levels, HDL cholesterol, remained constant.
In addition to the positive effects of hazelnuts on cholesterol levels, there are other ways in which its components make it a heart-friendly food. Not only has it been proven that hazelnuts improve artery health, but they also help normalize blood pressure. This has been associated with the dietary fiber, antioxidants, fatty acids, and magnesium in hazelnuts, all of which appear in high amounts.
Your heart will benefit in many ways from regular hazelnut consumption, as its nutrients have a positive impact on the arteries, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
How to eat and store hazelnuts
The biggest question when buying and preparing hazelnuts is whether to have them roasted or not. On one hand, eating raw nuts will make sure your body gets the nutrients found in hazelnuts in full, but they may include harmful bacteria -though they're not likely to make you ill. On the other hand, roasting the hazelnuts for 15 minutes at a low-to-medium temperature will kill any potential bacteria whilst preventing high vitamin and healthy fat losses.
The next question is the packaging that’ll make your hazelnuts last the longest. As they’re rather fatty nuts, pre-shelled, and vacuum-sealed hazelnuts will last longer than hazelnuts in their shells. You should store shelled hazelnuts in the fridge or freezer for up to 4 months, and unshelled hazelnuts in a dry, cool place for up to a month.