Chances are, you’re familiar with the holiday-associated chestnut. You may have sang about them in a popular Christmas song, or you may have purchased some in a grocery store or from a street vendor. But do you know much else about chestnuts? For example, curiously enough, the chestnut is considered both a nut and a fruit. Most nuts call into this category, in fact, as a fruit is defined as the product of a flowering plant. Chestnuts are slightly sweet with a bit of a crunch. Many consider them to be a holiday staple. However, unlike many holiday treats, chestnuts are actually good for you. Chestnut benefits include improving digestion, bone health, and brain function, to name a few. Be sure to read below to learn what else this tasty treat can do for your health.
Here are 6 ways the chestnut benefits your health:
1. Improves Digestion
As stated above, one of the chestnut benefits is the ability to improve digestion. It does this in a couple of different ways. For example, a study done by Food Microbiology found that chestnut extract has a protective effect on the strain of probiotics in your gastrointestinal tract. Probiotics are a type of good bacteria that help keep your gut healthy. (1)
Another way the chestnut benefits digestion is though the high amount of fiber chestnuts contain. Fiber helps move food through the digestive tract. It also helps treat constipation, keeps you full, stabilizes blood sugar, and helps nourish the good bacteria in your gut.
2. Contains Antioxidants
Chestnut benefits continue with the nut’s high amount of antioxidants. In fact, a 2010 study done out of Korea found that chestnut flower extract demonstrated powerful antioxidant abilities. Furthermore, the extract protected against damage from melanoma. (2)
You may have heard that antioxidants help neutralize free radicals in your body. Free radicals are compounds that can build up and cause damage to cells as well as cause several diseases. However, the antioxidants found in foods like chestnuts can help prevent this buildup, preventing such diseases as cancer and heart disease. (3, 4)
3. Protects Your Heart
Certain types of chestnuts can protect your heart. This is due to the antioxidants, which reduce inflammation as well as improve cardiovascular health. (5)
Chestnut benefits include the level of potassium, as well, which can help reduce risk factors associated with heart disease. In fact, one study found that increased potassium could lower blood pressure and even cut down on risk for stroke by 24 percent. (6)
If you are at risk for heart issues, reap chestnut benefits by including more of them in your diet.
4. Promotes Regularity
Eating fiber can bulk up your stool, which eases its passage through your body. This can help prevent and ease constipation. (7)
Chestnut benefits, with its high fiber content, also apply to this area of health. Combined with other high fiber foods, such as fruits and vegetables, consuming chestnuts can help prevent constipation.
5. Boosts Bone Health
Chestnut benefits extend to the health of your bones, as well. This is due to the manganese content within the chestnut. In fact, studies show that manganese could play a central role in bone health. Moreover, just 10 kernels of chestnuts provides you with half of the manganese you need for the entire day. (8)
6. Improves Brain Function
This is another area where chestnut benefits apply. Chestnuts contain several vitamins that keep your brain healthy. For example, they contain thiamine, vitamin B6, riboflavin and folate, all of which play important roles in the health of your brain. A thiamine deficiency, for example, can lead to delirium while a folate deficiency can impair brain development in children. (9, 10)
Consider adding chestnuts to your diet to reap all of these important health benefits.