What are the health benefits of the chestnut?
Energy well assimilated
Rich in starch, the chestnut presents itself as a good energy-providing food. Its carbohydrates have excellent digestibility after cooking, and they have the advantage of having a low glycemic index (GI). This prevents a rapid rise in blood sugar (the level of sugar in the blood). The presence of group B vitamins (and in particular vitamin B1) in the chestnut allows an excellent assimilation of its carbohydrates by the body.
Thanks to its starchy consistency, and the abundance of its fibers, the chestnut effectively satisfies the appetite. In other words, it is not necessary to eat large portions to be full! Another quality: its usual methods of preparation (grilled chestnut, or steamed or water cooked) do not require the addition of fat.
Beneficial fibers for the microbiota
The carbohydrates present in the chestnut, in particular amylose and amylopectin, prove to be beneficial for the intestinal flora. Dietary fiber is associated with the stimulation of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the intestine, lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and positive effects on the metabolism of blood lipids. When dietary fiber is fermented by colon bacteria, short-chain fatty acids (LFAs) are produced: they help maintain the integrity of the intestinal wall and help metabolize the colon. They are also beneficial in digestive diseases such as colitis (in various forms), diarrhea due to antibiotics and colon cancer.
An asset: its mineral richness
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The mineral richness of the chestnut is particularly interesting for athletes: there are indeed high intakes of potassium and iron, elements whose need increases with physical activity. Chestnuts are also a very good source of magnesium: 100 g of chestnuts provide 10 to 15% of the recommended daily intake, which is significant when you know how difficult it is to meet the need for this substance. (especially in case of stress, or after a period of fatigue). It is the same for manganese and copper: 100 g of chestnuts provide respectively 15 to 20% and 10% of the recommended daily allowance.
An antioxidant profile
The chestnut is an interesting source of vitamins C and E, both of which have antioxidant properties. It also contains carotenoids and vitamin A in appreciable amounts.
For preventive nutrition
Finally, several of the nutritional characteristics of the chestnut prove to be beneficial with a view to food prevention of cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. This is particularly the case for:
Its energy profile, with a high proportion of calories from complex carbohydrates, useful for people who have to watch the glycemic index of foods or for those who are looking for gluten-free foods.
The presence in only small proportions of lipids, with a majority of unsaturated fatty acids, and the presence of phytosterols.
Its richness in fibers.
Its interesting content of magnesium, copper and vitamin E and antioxidants.
Maria CBM De Vasconcelos, Richard N Bennett, Eduardo AS Rosa and Jorge V Ferreira-Cardoso. Composition of European chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) And association with health effects: fresh and processed products. J Sci Food Agric 2010; 90: 1578–1589