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Tips on How to Maximize the Health Benefits of Hazelnuts

I believe you will agree with me on the following:

Hazelnuts are the type of nuts most commonly used in snacks and a variety of roasted nut recipes. For example, they are one of the most important ingredients in Nutella.

But are they REALLY healthy when used that way? It turns out their health benefits DRAMATICALLY increase by changing one simple thing.

And it this post we are going to see that the MOST IMPORTANT point is to use them Raw. I use them raw, alongside with other nut varieties, as an addition to my green smoothies.

If you are wondering why I insist on raw Hazelnuts, I should tell you that there is a huge difference. At first you might think that raw hazelnuts are not much different from roasted hazelnuts, as far as their nutritional content is concerned.hazelnuts-3

And, here’s the deal:

One should avoid heating Hazelnuts, or any other nut variety for that matter.

The reason is simple – Hazelnuts are rich in monounsaturated and poly-unsaturated (Omega 6) fatty acids that easily go rancid whey you heat them up.

And, trust me, you don’t want to consume spoiled fatty acids. They will penetrate the cellular wals of your body and, over time, cause a number of problems there.

Not only that:

You don’t need the additional calories, salt, sugar, and fat content that roasted hazelnuts typically have, for example, because of they are roasted in vegetable oil (again the unstable fat that should never be heated).

That said, let’s focus on the…

Health and Nutritional Benefits of Raw Hazelnuts Compared With Roasted Hazelnuts

hazelnuts-4Hazelnuts are highly nutritious – they contain proteins, minerals, vitamins, fibers and healthy fats. That’s why they add a special nutty flavor to baked desserts. But, as already said, we don’t want to sweeten them or roast them in order to utilize their nutritious value.

Raw hazelnuts are high in protein content as well as in dietary fiber. I also recommend organic hazelnuts. You can buy raw organic hazelnuts from any organic food store or specialty food stores.

Raw hazelnuts are different from roasted hazelnuts also because they contain no sodium whatsoever.

Roasted hazelnuts typically have high sodium content (unless you roast them yourself, of course) and contain more calories and fat relative to their serving size.

Raw Hazelnuts are a Rich Source of Vitamins and Minerals

Raw hazelnuts contain a high amount of vitamins such as vitamin E and vitamins from the B complex, including folate. B vitamins, such as folate, are essential for speeding up the metabolism and delivering increased energy. Therefore, you may consider adding some Hazelnuts to your folate rich juices or smoothies.

Vitamin E (essentially an antioxidant) is necessary to maintain healthy skin, hair and nails. Hazelnuts are excellent sources of minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, which provide many health benefits, such as regulating the blood pressure.

Raw Hazelnuts Contain Phytochemicals That Are Good for the Brain

hazelnuts-2Phytopchemicals such as proanthocyanidins, kaempherol and quercetin belong to a group called flavonoids.

Flavonoids are considered essential for the health of the brain health. They improve blood circulation and ensure suppressing allergic reactions.

Taking a single serving of hazelnuts a day, makes sure that your body gets all the phytochemicals that it needs.

Raw Hazelnuts Contain Healthy Fats

Hazelnuts contain good, healthy fats that are essential for the heart’s health. Just a single 1-ounce serving of raw hazelnuts contains 178 calories and 17 grams of total fat, much of which is mono-unsaturated fat.

In the case of Hazelnuts, by “healthy fats” we mean primarily mono-unsaturated fats (75% of all fats) and to a lesser extent poly-unsaturated (15%) .

For example, research suggests that monounsaturated fatty acids prevent coronary diseases and strokes by promoting healthy lipid profile in our blood. Most of the monounsaturated fatty acids are in the form of oleic acid, which is one of the healthiest fats out there. Hazelnuts are an excellent source of oleic acid.

The poly-unsaturated fatty acids (Omega-6) are also considered essential for good health, although they should be balanced by enough Omega-3 fatty acids from animal sources.

Raw hazelnuts do not contain saturated fats, which, by the way, some people wrongly consider to be unhealthy.

The bottom line:

Raw hazelnuts seem to lower the LDL or bad cholesterol levels (1) and preserve the HDL or good cholesterol levels in the body (2).hazelnuts-1

Raw Hazelnuts Have Anti-Cancerous Properties

Raw hazelnuts contain Beta-sitosterol, which is a compound that is believed to reduce the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer. (3)

Hazelnuts also contain alpha-tocopherol (4), which is a type of vitamin E that is known to reduce the risk of bladder cancer by as much as 50 percent.

Raw Hazelnuts Act As Excellent Muscle Relaxants

Raw hazelnuts are rich in magnesium. Magnesium regulates the amount of calcium that gets absorbed by the body. The body requires just the right amount of calcium for muscle contraction and relaxation.

Calcium ensures that the muscles are relaxed when not needed, which helps to prevent any tension or soreness in the muscles. In several cultures around the world, raw hazelnuts are taken to alleviate muscle spasms, fatigue or cramps.

Raw Hazelnuts Ensure Better Bone and Joint Health

Raw hazelnuts are rich in manganese, which is a mineral that is considered absolutely essential for stronger and healthier bones. Manganese helps with the growth of bones. It is known to increase bone density and is essential for the structure and strength of the skeletal system. For this reason, Hazelnuts are recommended to those suffering from osteoporosis .

Raw Hazelnuts Are Necessary for a Healthier Skin

Raw hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E which is considered to be absolutely essential for a healthy skin. Vitamin E prevents skin cancer and formation of dark spots on the skin. It protects the skin from the dangerous effects of ultraviolet rays and prevents premature aging of the skin.

The Bottom Line

Raw Hazelnuts are a much healthier choice than their roasted counterparts.

Think about it:

Hazelnuts, like Brazil nuts, Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews and all the other nuts, are actually seeds that can grow into a whole plant. The fatty acids are there to provide calories for future growth. And the vitamin E is there to protect the seed’s sensitive fatty content against damage from oxidation.

If you heat Hazelnuts in any way, you damage its fatty content and oxidation occurs despite the strong antioxidant properties of vitamin E. And Hazelnuts are among the nuts with the highest levels of vitamin E.

That’s why raw hazelnuts are far superior to roasted hazelnuts from the nutritional point of view. And that’s why you should absolutely include them in your diet, at least from time to time.

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4 Comments on Tips on How to Maximize the Health Benefits of Hazelnuts

  1. Hazelnuts are great if eaten alone. If you count on getting some healthy food due to the hazelnuts in Nutella your are just plain wrong. The main ingredient in Nutella is refined,white, probably GMO sugar. The next ingredient is palm oil, and only then come the nuts. If you plan on eating Nutella, please note that you are eating a spread of sugar and palm oil before anything else. So stick to the good old raw hazelnuts and avoid artificial food as much as you can.

  2. Thanks for the comment rick. I couldn’t agree more. To add to your discussion, the hazelnuts fatty acids in Nutella are likely heat treated during the production, which is another reason to stay away from it.

  3. I spent many years thinking I hated hazelnuts! I recently discovered that I actually love them! I had to find that out through Bueno bars but still! haha I know Nutella is garbage so I always avoided it. I am going to eat more fresh ones though. I will have to get some when I finish up my walnuts.

  4. Thanks for the comment Britanica. For many years I was addicted to Nutella and similar junk spreads. Thank God, I no longer use them. Instead I’ve turned to raw hazelnuts and healthy fats and never looked back.

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