Chestnuts: 5 healing effects + 3 tips for preparing chestnuts

Roasted chestnuts are among the classics at the Christmas market. Not only are they delicious, they also contain valuable ingredients for our health. You can find out more about the healing power of sweet chestnuts and what you should consider when preparing them here.

Interesting facts about chestnuts

A hot bag full of roasted, sweetened or caramelized chestnuts is a popular snack at the Christmas market – and quite healthy at that. The small, brown nuts originally come from Asia Minor and, thanks to the Romans, quickly spread throughout Europe. The chestnut trees, which are up to 35 meters high , still adorn many park and forest paths and bear their fruit in autumn and winter. Today chestnuts are a small treasure and are eaten primarily as a delicacy – but that was not always the case.

Long before potatoes and corn arrived in Europe and became the most important staple foods, chestnuts were considered an indispensable food. Particularly poor sections of the population benefited from the chestnuts, also known as chestnuts . They were considered “poor man’s bread” and were mainly used in pasta – especially bread made from chestnut flour. Poor citizens could not only overwinter well with the edible chestnuts, they also got all the important nutrients from the nuts.

Esskastanien vs. Maronen

Chestnuts, sweet chestnuts, sweet chestnuts – the terms are often confused as synonyms, but they all mean something different. There are around 20 types of chestnuts in total , of which only certain types are edible. The best-known edible varieties are chestnuts and sweet chestnuts . Both are subspecies of the sweet chestnut . Strictly speaking, the chestnut is even a further breeding of the chestnut. It is larger, more flavorful and sweeter than its closest relative. In addition, chestnuts are easier to peel – which gives them several advantages over chestnuts.

Unfortunately, just as there are edible chestnuts, there are also poisonous ones. Horse chestnuts in particular are widespread here, but you should keep your hands off these fruits. In the worst case, consumption can cause nausea, abdominal pain or even vomiting.

Ingredients of chestnuts and sweet chestnuts

The special thing about chestnuts is that although they are nuts, they can be treated and prepared like vegetables in the kitchen. Chestnuts used to be part of the staple food of the poorer population, even though they contain many valuable nutrients. Not only are they gluten-free and alkaline , they also have significantly fewer calories and fat than nuts . It also contains good protein, many vitamins and important minerals.

Chestnuts contain as much vitamin C as oranges and therefore an enormous amount compared to other staple foods such as potatoes. In addition, they contain almost all essential B vitamins and vitamin E. This is so important for us because our body cannot produce these vitamins itself. They must be forced to be supplied to us through food. The potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and copper it contains also make chestnuts so valuable for our health.

The sweet chestnut also has many complex carbohydrates , above all good dietary fiber . These are not only good for digestion and a healthy intestinal flora, they also keep you full for a long time and prevent food cravings. Its secondary plant substances also make chestnuts a true superfood. Their flavonoids have an antioxidant effect and thus protect our body from various diseases.

nutritional values Per 100 grams
calories 200 kcal
carbohydrates 41 g
of which dietary fiber 8 g
protein 2 g
fat 2 g
Potassium 707 mg
calcium 33 mg

Effects of chestnuts and sweet chestnuts

There are many good reasons to include chestnuts in your everyday diet. Together with a balanced diet, sweet chestnuts strengthen your mental and physical health .

More energy

Chestnuts not only provide athletes with a lot of energy – those who have to think hard also benefit from chestnuts. They contain large amounts of complex carbohydrates, many of which come from healthy fiber. While simple carbohydrates, such as table sugar or wheat flour, cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall rapidly, complex carbohydrates remain constant. This is because refined carbohydrates are industrially processed. They are deprived of valuable dietary fiber, which makes them more durable and easier to process. Fiber, on the other hand, is not digestible and swells up in the intestine . There they serve as food for good bacterial strains.

Chestnuts are therefore an ideal snack during the exam or before major sports performances. The low fat content also makes the chestnut easier to digest than other nuts, which are usually high in fat.

Your body also benefits from vitamins B1, 2, 3 and 6, as well as the bulk element phosphorus. This abundance of vital nutrients prevents physical and mental exhaustion in many ways.

Healthy cardiovascular system and beautiful skin

Chestnuts not only provide a lot of energy, they also keep you fit and your connective tissue tight at the same time . Even if the chestnuts have a lot of calories, you can still grab them boldly. In contrast to nuts, chestnuts only consist of two percent fat . The majority of this is due to simple and unsaturated fatty acids – such as linoleic acid. These fatty acids are considered to be extremely health-promoting. On the one hand, this is because they can lower the bad LDL cholesterol . On the other hand, they ensure that the proportion of good HDL cholesterol increases. This combination ensures a healthy cardiovascular system .

But that’s not all. With their high vitamin C content, chestnuts ensure a stable and functioning immune system , which in turn fights off pathogens. Your body is fitter, healthier and takes preventive measures to ensure that it stays that way.

Sweet chestnuts are particularly beneficial for women. Because the high amount of vitamin C and E helps the body to strengthen and build up slack connective tissue . Chestnuts are said to work wonders against cellulite but also against stretch marks. The super nut is also able to smooth out smaller wrinkles.

Balanced acid-base balance

Being balanced is not only important for the psyche. Your body also needs stability and balance . This balance stands and falls with your diet. If this is very acidic and you eat less alkaline at the same time, then your entire household will shift towards overacidification . Even the smallest imbalance can have a negative effect on you: you feel tired, listless and unfocused. At the same time you are more susceptible to diseases. Incidentally, the taste of a food has nothing to do with its classification. Fast food and ready meals with a high salt or sugar content are usually to blame for hyperacidity.

Chestnuts are particularly base-rich foods. Responsible for this effect is their high proportion of potassium, which contributes to the neutralization of acid . This not only ensures a balanced acid-base balance, but generally an intact digestive system and stable health. After just a few meals rich in bases, the typical symptoms of hyperacidity improve: flatulence , heartburn, feeling of fullness and over-irritated mucous membranes.

With 707 mg potassium per 100 g chestnuts , the chestnuts are already extremely rich in bases. However, you can further enhance the effect by combining chestnuts with similarly rich foods. A particularly base-rich meal would be, for example, chestnut puree with spinach and carrots.

For gluten allergy sufferers

Chestnuts and sweet chestnuts are nuts and can therefore be prepared as such. But what makes chestnuts so valuable is their wide range of uses, which go far beyond roasting and snacking.

Centuries ago, people from poorer sections of the population ground flour from the chestnuts. They used the chestnut flour for all kinds of pasta – chestnut bread in particular was a popular preparation.

Even today, people with gluten intolerance benefit from the nutrient-rich nuts. This generally applies to anyone who is sensitive and reacts strongly to genetically modified grain – which unfortunately affects more and more people. Chestnuts can be processed into flakes, flour, chips and spreads, among other things. Pasta, bread and desserts can then be made from this – if you are creative, this list can continue indefinitely.

If you suffer from celiac disease, you must make sure in the supermarket that the chestnut flour is not mixed with other grains . In order to retain the binding properties of gluten, the industry often mixes different types of grain together. Incidentally, you can also imitate the effect of sticking together in a gluten-free way: Simply mix the flour with egg and potato starch .

For strong bones and healthy teeth

Another ingredient makes chestnuts a valuable asset in the kitchen: calcium . No other mineral is as common in the human body as this one. It is therefore not surprising that it takes on extremely important functions in the body. Calcium is involved in the formation of teeth and bones and also prevents muscle cramps. If your body suffers from a calcium deficiency , it draws the required amount of the mineral from the bones. A persistent deficiency can lead to osteoporosis. With the disease, the bones lose more and more density, which makes fractures, for example, more likely.

Buy chestnuts and chestnuts

Surely you have now acquired a taste for it and would like to try the chestnuts yourself. The good news: You don’t have to wait until Christmas market time. However, there is a catch: the sweet chestnuts are only ripe in autumn and are then only in season until winter. During this time you can find the sweet chestnuts loose in the supermarket. But you can also buy them vacuum packed or canned all year round . The advantage of canned chestnuts is that they are usually already cooked and peeled.

Chestnuts are collected in complex processes and made ready for sale. That is why they are often not cheap even in the season . In order not to waste your money, you should pay close attention to the freshness of the chestnuts. If they are smooth and shiny, you can assume that the nuts are still young. If they are heavy in the hand , they are not damaged from the inside. Light chestnuts indicate a shrunken or even missing core – so it’s better to leave these chestnuts where they are.

Of course, you can also collect chestnuts and sweet chestnuts yourself. There are significantly more trees of the genus

Sweet chestnuts, but once you have found a chestnut tree, you will usually be rewarded with a rich harvest. Because there are up to three chestnuts in the prickly shells . With the trees up to 30 meters high, it is also not so impractical that only the fruit lying on the ground should be collected. Because the chestnuts are only really ripe when they fall from the tree.

Recipes with chestnuts and sweet chestnuts

Chestnuts and sweet chestnuts can be processed into all sorts of dishes. The chestnuts should only be picked fresh and should not be eaten raw. Chestnuts from the oven are particularly popular and delicious. This also gives them the typical roasted aroma that we know and love from the Christmas market.

Prepare sweet chestnuts

In order to be able to eat or further prepare chestnuts, their brown skin must first be removed. Unfortunately, this cannot be removed simply by hand, so the chestnuts have to soak in a water bath for about an hour . Next, use a sharp knife to cut a cross on the top. This is necessary so that the chestnuts do not burst open in the oven or pot when the heat is high.

The precious chestnut voice

After you have cut off the brush of the chestnuts with scissors, then soaked them and then carved them crosswise, you can roast the chestnuts in the next step. For the perfect roasted aroma, the chestnuts have to go in the oven for around 20 to 30 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius . Once they’re done, they need to cool down a bit. Only then can you easily peel off the shells of the chestnuts. Chestnuts taste particularly delicious when refined with a little butter and salt . Spices such as vanilla, cloves and cinnamon also go well with the chestnuts.

A few more tips to get the perfect roasted aroma out of the chestnuts: When roasting, simply place a small bowl of water in the oven. This prevents the nuts from drying out. If you want to save yourself a little time, you can also briefly cook the chestnuts in boiling water. This reduces the roasting time to around 10 to 15 minutes .

Cook sweet chestnuts

Instead of roasting them in the oven, you can also prepare chestnuts in a pot or pan. To do this, you have to soak the chestnuts in a water bath as usual and give them a cross cut. The cut can easily reach into the flesh of the fruit, it just has to be deep enough to be able to easily remove the skin later.

After the preparation, the chestnuts only have to be boiled in lightly salted water for about 20 minutes . As soon as the chestnuts are ready, their skin will burst slightly at the notch. As with roasting, the chestnuts now need to cool for a short time before you can safely remove their shells.

Now you can process and use the power nuts in all sorts of dishes. Chestnuts are particularly tasty with goose and game, but candied or glazed chestnuts also make tasty snacks.

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