Hazelnuts rank number one among tree nuts in folate content. Folate is responsible for a decreased risk of neural tube birth defects and it reduces depression.
Hazelnuts are rich in protein, unsaturated fat, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and B vitamins and are considered a healthy, nutritious food. They can be purchased whole in the shell or shelled, in halves, slivers and chopped with or without skins. Hazelnuts can be eaten alone as a snack, are often used in confectionery products such as pralines and chocolate truffles and can also be incorporated into savory dishes.
Hazelnuts are a good source of energy with their 60.5% fat content. They are rich source of vitamin E which helps prevent oxidation of the polyunsaturated fats.
Hazelnuts are high in oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fatty acid, which helps to lower cholesterol. The cardio-protective arginine, an amino acid from hazelnuts helps in the relaxation of blood vessels. Only a few nuts contain vitamin A, and hazelnuts are among them. Vitamin A is a natural antioxidant and has cancer-preventing properties.
Hazelnuts are rich in minerals, particularly in manganese, selenium and zinc. The minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium from hazelnuts help to lower cholesterol.
Hazelnuts contain nearly 75 percent mono-unsaturated fat and less than 4 percent saturated fat. This high level of mono-unsaturated fat is credit-worthy for a reduction in both total blood and LDL cholesterol levels, provided hazelnuts are consumed as part of a low saturated fat diet. Plant compounds such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and proanthocyanidins are the phytochemicals that play an important role in decreasing the risk of heart diseases, cancer and other chronic diseases. Hazelnuts have the highest proanthocyanidin content of any tree nut. These elements offer astringent flavor to foods and may help reduce the risk of blood clotting and urinary tract infections.
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