Shahbalut (Chestnut)

Introduction

Chestnuts are generally found in the northern hemisphere and are the edible nuts which have a lot of health benefits. The four main species of chestnut includes Chinese, European, American and Japanese. The cultivation of this wonder nut and fruit began in 2000 BC. These trees grow best in chilled temperatures and even the snowfalls and frosts are helpful for the growth of these trees. The soil required to grow this tree must be well drained and should have adequate moisture. Majorly Chestnuts are grown in China, Korea, Italy and Turkey. China being the highest producer of chestnut and as a matter of fact about 82% of the global production is credited to China. In India, it is called Shahbalut.

Nutritional Value

Chestnuts are considered an excellent source dietary fiber along with carbohydrates, protein and fat. It contains vitamins and minerals such as folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, pantothenic acid and vitamin C, manganese, copper and vitamin B6, iron, phosphorus, zinc and calcium. These are also a rich source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and palmitoleic acids which help lowering the LDL or bad cholesterol and increasing the HDL or good cholesterol levels within the blood stream.

Usage in Indian Kitchen

Chestnuts are generally roasted and then consumed. It is an important ingredient in Christmas cakes and specially used in other bakery items as well. Chestnut is also ground and the powder is used in cooking food items which people consume during fasts. The Chestnut cream is used as a breakfast item and spread onto a toast and also blended with milk for a healthy and sweet breakfast. Cake frosting’s and granola bars are very easy to make with the help of Chestnut cream.

Health Benefits of Shahbalut

  1. Helps in preventing diabetes
  2. Boosts the immunity system
  3. Increases the bone mineral density
  4. Improves the functioning of brain
  5. Controls the blood pressure