Hazelnuts are part of the nuts family and as such are an invaluable food for people, especially for those of us who are vegetarians and avoid animal products. Hazelnuts are nut fruits of a small hazelnut tree- Corylus avellana. Today, there are over a hundred varieties of hazel nuts. Some of them are the fruit of the hazel tree, which is a certain kind of common hazel. It is three to five feet tall, has a thin trunk and very dense crown. The leaves are round, oval, or heart-shaped. The most used types of nuts are: a simple Constantinople hazelnut (hazel), which is the largest species, there is also beaked American hazelnut and beaked Asian hazelnut.
For the use of hazelnuts by people, proof exists in Chinese manuscripts from 5000 years ago, even then the Chinese regarded these nuts as a valuable crop. Our ancestors began to eat hazelnuts in the early Neolithic ages. In ancient times, people believed that these nuts have not only health advantages, but also protect against lightning, jinxes, evil spirits, snakes and mice. Other nuts like almonds, walnuts and peanuts were also duly appreciated. The tree was a symbol of marriage, abundant wealth and marital happiness. The hazelnut was seen as a symbol of peace and health, and a source of wealth and power.
Perhaps hazelnuts come from Minor Asia, and from there gradually spread along the southern Mediterranean, from Greece to Italy and France, and finally Spain. After the Chinese, Greeks and Romans ate nuts because of their great taste, but they were primarily used as a medical tool. The Latin name of the hazelnut is "Corylus" and comes from the Greek word "korys", meaning helmet. The name is related to the similarity between battle helmets and the hazelnut shell.
Today hazelnuts are found mostly in countries around the Mediterranean. They are grown in Spain, Italy and the United States and especially Turkey, where they originate from. Today, Turkey is considered to be the largest producer and exporter of hazelnuts, taking profits of about 1, 1 billion dollars of trade with hazelnuts. The annual average production of hazelnuts in Turkey 500 thousand tons, Italy - 125 thousand tons, and Spain and the U.S. - 25 thousand tons.
Composition of hazelnuts
Hazelnuts are extremely rich in vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant and folic acid, which is necessary for the formation of red blood cells. Hazelnuts have almost no carbohydrates, and few fats. Therefore, according to nutritionists, they are very suitable for dieting. Raw nuts contain 5 3% water and about 88 percent of the fat is unsaturated hazelnut. Hazelnuts are rich in minerals magnesium, copper and potassium and are a good source of fiber.
It contains pantothenic acid and vitamin C. fats derived from nuts, are more durable because they resist rancidity, taste good and are easily absorbed by the body. They contain lipotropic substances (methionine, choline, lecithin) and unsaturated fatty acids. Significant amounts of iodine are found in them.
In roasted hazelnuts, nutrient levels are lower. They contain 2.5% water, 649 calories, 15 g protein, 60.8 g fat, 17.6 g carbohydrates, 0 cholesterol, 4.9 g sugars, 9.4 g fiber.
Selecting and storing hazelnuts
Usually hazelnuts are dried until the moisture content of the kernel is reduced by 10% and then stored in a cool dry place. They are sold with or without shells, skinned or fluffy, natural, roasted and dry roasted in oil with added salt. When choosing hazelnuts in a shell, at least make sure there are no holes - a sign of poor quality nuts. It is best to buy hazelnuts in Vacuum packed jars or cans.
Nuts should be stored in a cool, dry place for their fat content. If the nuts are exposed to light and heat, they form the Aspergillus fungus, which promotes the release of alphatoxins. These toxins cause liver cancer and suppress the immune system. Peeled and raw nuts should be consumed within 7 days, provided they are stored in a refrigerator. It is possible to make them taste bitter and dry otherwise. Unpeeled nuts can be stored for several months in a cool place.
Hazelnuts in cooking
Hazelnuts are one of the most valuable foods to eat, if not daily, at least several times a week. These nuts have wide culinary application, especially in confectionery. Prepare delicious hazelnut cream, or pastry, crushed nuts are used as a supplement to the latter, just take the cake and sprinkle it on top. Hazelnuts are an integral and beloved friend of the billions of people in the world of chocolate.
From these nuts are prepared hazelnut butter, hazelnut oil, hazelnut flour, hazelnuts and hazelnut flavor essence. It is sometimes used as an additive to salads and sauces for meat, fish and seafood. Often nuts are added to oatmeal and cereal to protein shakes and other vegetable pulps. It is advisable to roast hazelnuts at a maximum of 200 degrees Celsius.
Benefits of nuts
Hazelnuts are useful especially when raw. Millennia ago, hazelnut was used as medicine. Besides the kernel and the shell, the leaves of the tree were also used against various diseases.
Today, it is considered that nuts help the development of blood and improve mental health. They are an excellent tool for people who suffer from anemia and spent recovering from a serious illness and surgery. Hazelnuts can be a cure for tuberculosis, during disturbances in the activity of the endocrine glands in diabetes mellitus. Recommended for kidney and gall stones, urinary tract infections, acting as a diuretic and to some extent alkalizing.
The maximum absorption of the nutrients of hazelnuts from your body, happens if they take the form of flour. Hazelnuts contain potassium, calcium and magnesium - minerals that are important for maintaining normal blood pressure and vitality. They are recommended with severe infectious diseases, bronchitis, joint pain, chronic fatigue, nervous tension and venous extension. Lipotropic agents (methionine, choline, lecithin) and unsaturated fatty acids in nuts are important for fat metabolism in the treatment of atherosclerosis, as well as high blood pressure.
For diets, serving 20-30 g of hazelnuts daily is recommended. Because of the vast amount of folate, hazelnuts are mandatory food for pregnant women. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which in turn helps prevent heart disease and cancer. The significant amounts of iodine in the nuts makes them particularly useful for those suffering from endemic food goiter.