A paper bag of hot chestnuts from the South Bank Christmas market got me hooked, and this weekend when I celebrated Christmas with my housemates before we all disappear for the holiday period, I decided to make my own to enjoy while we played board games and drank mulled wine.
What I hadn’t realised about this deliciously festive snack is that it’s also a nutritional powerhouse.
Chestnuts, unlike other nuts and seeds, are relatively low in calories as they are primarily starch based. While this makes them higher in carbohydrates than other nuts, the carbs in chestnuts are complex, so they are digested slowly offering a gradual release of energy.
They are a good source of cholesterol-lowering dietary fibre, offering approximately 8.1g per 100g.
They are also the only nut to contain high levels of vitamin C, with 100g of nuts provide 43mg of vitamin C.
They contain folic acid (100 g nuts provide 62 µg), which plays a role in preventing neurological defects in the foetus of pregnant women, as well as having a role in the creation of DNA, RNA and red blood cells.
Like other nuts, they are a rich source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids including oleic acid and palmitoleic acid, that can help lower bad cholesterol levels and increase levels of good cholesterol.
Moreover they are an excellent source of iron, (essential to protect against anaemia), calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc, (important for bone strength).
They provide around 518mg potassium per 100g, which helps counter hypertensive action of sodium, lowers heart rate and blood pressure.
Finally they are also rich in many important B vitamins. 100 g of nuts provide 11% of niacin, 29% of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), 100% of thiamin, and 12% of riboflavin.
If that isn’t reason enough to get roasting chestnuts over an open fire I don’t know what is!