5 Health Benefits of Hazelnuts – Backed by Science

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Regular consumption of nuts as part of a healthy diet is helpful in disease prevention and longevity. Previously, we’ve covered the health benefits of hazelnuts for middle-aged people.

Here we will explore five more significant health benefits of hazelnuts along with the scientific studies that have confirmed them.

Health Benefits of Hazelnuts

Nuts are rich in healthy fats, minerals, dietary fibers and phenolic compounds. In fact, nuts are among the nutrient-dense foods beneficial for boosting metabolism and better heart health.

It is rich in MUFA(monosaturated fatty acids), polyphenols, folate, L-arginine, selenium, copper, vitamin E, magnesium, and among many others. In other words, it is rich in antioxidants.

Hence, anyone thinking about maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet, nuts should be on the list. Nuts like hazelnuts are excellent snacks that can be a substitute for junk food.

Hazelnuts can be consumed in its raw form, ground in paste form, and roasted, which most people prefer.

1. Antioxidant – Protection Against Oxidative Stress

ORAC or oxygen radical absorbance capacity is a method of measuring the antioxidant capacity of a particular food. Hazelnuts have outstanding levels of antioxidants, which have one of the highest ORAC scores among other nuts.

It means that the antioxidant contents in hazelnuts provide protection against oxidative stress, protecting the body against accelerated aging, cell damage and disease prevention.

As proof of its antioxidant potency, one study found that a hazelnut-enriched diet lessens inflammatory gene expression and oxidative stress without inducing weight gain, which leads to the second health benefits of hazelnuts.

But before we go explore the second health benefit, it is worth noting that the vitamin E in hazelnuts can be protective against cell damage in the body, which is linked to cancer.

2. Prevention Against Obesity

Hazelnut consumption is not a magical solution for losing weight. However, just like other nuts, when it is consumed as part of a healthy diet, it is helpful and can contribute to losing weight and prevent weight gain if one already has an ideal weight.

Hazelnut has an anti-obesity peptide. It is a protein derived from hazelnuts and rich in bioactive peptides. These peptides from hazelnuts have been identified by researchers in 2019. The researchers say that it has a potential effect on preventing obesity and may be helpful in improving metabolic conditions.

In another study, European researchers with 370,000 men and women with ages ranging from 25 to 70 years old found that;

Higher intake of nuts is associated with reduced weight gain and a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Freisling H, Noh H, Slimani N, Chajès V, May AM, Peeters PH, Weiderpass E, Cross AJ, Skeie G, Jenab M, Mancini FR, Boutron-Ruault MC, Fagherazzi G, Katzke VA, Kühn T, Steffen A, Boeing H, Tjønneland A, Kyrø C, Hansen CP, Overvad K, Duell EJ, Redondo-Sánchez D, Amiano P, Navarro C, Barricarte A, Perez-Cornago A, Tsilidis KK, Aune D, Ward H, Trichopoulou A, Naska A, Orfanos P, Masala G, Agnoli C, Berrino F, Tumino R, Sacerdote C, Mattiello A, Bueno-de-Mesquita HB, Ericson U, Sonestedt E, Winkvist A, Braaten T, Romieu I, Sabaté J. Nut intake and 5-year changes in body weight and obesity risk in adults: results from the EPIC-PANACEA study. Eur J Nutr. 2018 Oct;57(7):2399-2408. doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1513-0. Epub 2017 Jul 21. PMID: 28733927.
Hazelnuts, Walnuts, Almonds

3. Better Cardiovascular Health

As mentioned earlier, hazelnuts have MUFA(monosaturated fatty acids) and antioxidants, which are beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

In a study employing an intervention diet, 29 to 69 grams of hazelnuts were given to the subjects for 84 days. This hazelnut-enriched diet has been found;

…a hazelnut-enriched diet decreases low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in a significant way and shows a trend toward reduction of total cholesterol, without decreasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C); while triglycerides and body mass index (BMI) remain substantially unchanged.

Perna S, Giacosa A, Bonitta G, et al. Effects of Hazelnut Consumption on Blood Lipids and Body Weight: A Systematic Review and Bayesian Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2016;8(12):747. Published 2016 Nov 25. doi:10.3390/nu8120747

Keep in mind, LDL (Low-density lipoprotein) is the bad cholesterol while HDL (High-density lipoprotein) is the good cholesterol.

Moreover, in another study, researchers concluded this interesting findings;

This study demonstrated that a high-fat and high-MUFA-rich hazelnut diet was superior to a low-fat control diet because of favorable changes in plasma lipid profiles of hypercholesterolemic adult men and, thereby positively affecting the CHD risk profile.

Mercanligil SM, Arslan P, Alasalvar C, et al. Effects of hazelnut-enriched diet on plasma cholesterol and lipoprotein profiles in hypercholesterolemic adult men. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007 Feb;61(2):212-220. DOI: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602518. PMID: 16969381.

4. Beneficial in Lowering Blood Sugar Levels

Another health benefit of hazelnuts is the prevention and management of diabetes. One study says;

…there is also reason to believe the unique micro- and macronutrient profiles of nuts may help to control blood glucose levels, relatively few studies have investigated their role in diabetes control and prevention.

Additionally, with its low carbs along with its healthy fats and high dietary fiber plus magnesium and plant protein, these are beneficial for people with diabetes.

In another study, mixed nuts including walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds were given to patients with metabolic syndrome. The result of the study was that reduced fasting insulin levels, which is another beneficial marker for good blood sugar levels.

5. Potential Benefit Against Cancer

Due to the high concentration of antioxidants in hazelnuts along with its minerals and vitamins plus other nutrients, it could contribute to having benefits against cancer.

In fact, in one study, researchers found that extracts from hazelnut shells have antioxidant effects, and they found that it is cytotoxic against human cancer cell lines.

In their conclusion, the researchers says;

…extracts from hazelnut shells might be useful as health-promoting ingredients potentially expandable in functional foods, nutraceuticals or dietary supplements.

Esposito T, Sansone F, Franceschelli S, et al. Hazelnut (Corylus avellana L.) Shells Extract: Phenolic Composition, Antioxidant Effect and Cytotoxic Activity on Human Cancer Cell Lines. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2017 Feb;18(2). DOI: 10.3390/ijms18020392. PMID: 28208804; PMCID: PMC5343927.

Takeaways

Hopefully, the information regarding the health benefits of hazelnuts could encourage people to make it part of their daily diet. However, it is important to note that hazelnuts are not the magic bullet for health, but make it a part of a healthy diet and habit.

For instance, instead of snacking on junk sugary foods, make it a habit to have nuts like hazelnuts as a preferred snack choice.

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