Hazelnuts (Scientific name: Corylusavellana) are sweet in taste and incredibly nutritious. Hazelnuts are valued for their ultra-indulgent flavour and upscale appeal, but don’t let their rich flavour fool you. They are also one of the most nutritious nuts. Hazelnuts are an excellent source of vitamin E, dietary fibre, magnesium, and heart healthy B vitamins. Recent research also shows that hazelnuts are one of the highest natural sources of antioxidants.
Hazelnuts are fruits from the "birch" orBetulaceae family of trees. The hazels (Corylus) are a genus of deciduous trees and large shrubs native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere. The genus is usually placed in the birch family Betulaceae, though some botanists split the hazels (with the hornbeams and allied genera) into a separate family Corylaceae.
The hazel is a small deciduous tree, originated in southern Europe and Turkey. Hazels have simple, rounded leaves with double-serrate margins.It is now being cultivated in many regions of the world, including USA as an important commercial crop.
Hazel tree begin producing fruits about three years after plantation. During each spring season, the tree bears attractive inflorescence (catkins), consisting of the cluster of monoecious flowers arranged closely along a central stem that ultimately becomes fruits by autumn.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF HAZELNUTS
Heart Health & Good Fats
Hazelnuts are a rich source of nutrients that have cardioprotective benefits. These nutrients include vitamin E, folate, B vitamins and arginine (an amino acid that relaxes blood vessels).
Hazelnuts also have one the lowest percentages of saturated fat (along with pinenuts and almonds) and one of the best nut sources of heart healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Numerous studies have shown unsaturated fats can lower blood cholesterol and help decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. The favorable fatty acid profile is another reason why hazelnuts are great heart-smart snacks.
Vitamin E has been touted as an important antioxidant that may have cardioprotective benefits. Consumers have high awareness of vitamin E, placing it among the top-selling vitamin supplements in the United States. The newly revised food guidance system, known as MyPyramid, specifically lists hazelnuts as one of the richest sources of vitamin E and the guidelines suggest choosing hazelnuts more often to help meet vitamin E recommendations.
Hazelnuts are one of the highest natural sources of antioxidants among “superfoods” and are one of the most antioxidant-rich nuts. Foods rich in antioxidant content mop-up free radicals in the blood stream that can eventually lead to serious diseases.
Hazelnuts also have one of the highest Proanthocyanidin (PAC) contents among ”superfoods” and the second highest among nuts. PACs are known to have antioxidant capabilities 20 times more powerful than vitamin C and 50 times more potent than vitamin E. The antioxidants found in PACs may have t¬he ability to strengthen blood vessels, suppress platelet stickiness in arteries, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, delay the onset of dementia and lower blood pressure.