Chestnuts may seem like an average, everyday nut, but there are a number of important health benefits including their ability to improve digestive health, strengthen bones, manage diabetes, protect cardiovascular health, boost the immune system, and lower blood pressure. Chestnuts also increase cognition and prevent chronic illnesses.
Chestnuts have a high fiber content. Dietary fiber comes in the form of soluble and insoluble. Soluble gets absorbed in water and forms a gel-like consistency in the intestines. This type helps reduce cholesterol and stabilizes blood-sugar levels. Insoluble fiber creates bulk in the stool and helps it pass through the system quickly. This helps reduce the risk for constipation and intestinal complications like diverticulosis — a condition where small pockets on the intestinal wall lining become inflamed. A 3-ounce serving of roasted chestnuts contains 4 grams of fiber. Nuts have predominately insoluble fiber.
Stable Energy Levels
Most nuts are low in carbohydrates, which is why they often are part of low-carb diet plans. Chestnuts, however, have a high amount of carbs. They contain 45 grams per 3-ounce serving. Carbs are needed for short- and long-term energy, and they help with nervous system function. The carbs that come from chestnuts are complex. Unlike simple carbs, complex carbs are digested slowly, which gives you even energy levels. Simple carbs tend to give you a fast spike of energy followed by a fast dip.
Improved Brain Function
The fat-soluble B vitamins help produce red blood cells, break down protein, carbs and fats for energy, promote healthy skin and enhance brain function. Chestnuts have a generous blend of B vitamins in moderately high amounts. A 3-ounce serving contains 21 percent of the recommended daily value of B-6, 15 percent of folate, 14 percent of thiamine and 9 percent of riboflavin. Eat roasted chestnuts as appetizers with a leafy green salad and lean meat for a vitamin B-packed meal.
Disease Risk Reduction
Chestnuts have a high content of the trace mineral manganese — an antioxidant, which soaks up free radicals in the system and reduces the risk for cancer and heart disease. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, manganese also plays a key role in the aging process. A 3-ouce serving of chestnuts contains just over 1 microgram of manganese, which is 50 percent of the recommended daily intake. Manganese also helps with connective-tissue production and blood clotting. Add chopped chestnuts to a bowl of oatmeal for a manganese-packed breakfast.
Copper is a trace mineral that enhances bone strength, helps with red blood cell formation and nerve function and boosts the immune system. A trace mineral is only needed in a small amount by the body. Chestnuts contain 22 percent of the recommended daily value of copper per 3-ounce serving. Pair roasted chestnuts with dried prunes for a snack high in copper.