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Hazelnut vs Chestnut - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Hazelnut
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Chestnut

Introduction

In this article, we will explore all aspects of hazelnut and chestnut, with a focus on their health impact and nutrition. Hazelnuts are the nuts of the hazel tree, while chestnuts are a genus of plants. The name chestnut refers to the edible nuts they produce.

Varieties

Hazelnuts are the fruit of the hazel; they include any nuts of the genus Corylus, also known as filberts or cobnuts. Hazelnut has slight notes of musty and earthy. The chestnuts are a group of eight or nine species of trees and shrubs in the genus Castanea. Hazelnuts are bigger than chestnuts. Chestnuts have a slightly sweet flavor more like sweet potato than another type of nut. Chestnuts are native to the Northern Hemisphere.

Uses

Hazelnuts are used in desserts, baking, and in combination with chocolate for chocolate truffles. The oil from hazelnut is used as a cooking oil. The most popular hazelnut products are chocolate bars, hazelnut cocoa spread such as Nutella, and Frangelico liqueur. Chestnuts may be great to make winter soup, in desserts. They are used in baked cakes, salads, or mixing into stuffing with cranberries or apples [1] [2].

Nutrition

The nutritional profile of these nuts is very different. Both are rich in micronutrients, however, to better understand the difference, we created the nutritional infographic. Have a look below. 

Micronutrients

Overall, hazelnuts are richer in micronutrients, than chestnuts. Hazelnuts contain 7 times more protein and 9 times more fiber than chestnuts. The level of fats in hazelnuts also is higher. Chestnuts contain fewer sugars, than hazelnuts.  Both nuts contain no cholesterol [3].

Calories

In general, hazelnuts contain more calories, than chestnuts. Each hazelnut has about 628 calories per 100 g, while each chestnut contains 131 calories per 100 g [4].

Vitamins 

The vitamin content of hazelnut is higher than that of chestnuts. Hazelnuts contain 5 times more Vitamin B1, 3 times more Folate, and 2 times more Vitamin B6 than chestnuts. The amount of Vitamin K, Vitamin B3, and Vitamin B5 are also higher in hazelnuts than in chestnuts. On the other hand, chestnuts contain more Vitamin C. The amount of this Vitamin C is 4 times higher in chestnuts. Both nuts completely lack Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B9, and both are equal in Vitamin B2 [5] [6].

Minerals

Overall, hazelnuts have a higher mineral summary than chestnuts. It contains 2 more magnesium, 2 phosphorus, and 8 times more zinc than chestnuts. The levels of iron, calcium, and copper are also higher in hazelnuts. Moreover, this nut has less sodium than chestnut. The amount of potassium is equal in these nuts [7].

Potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral, which is helping to reduce the risk of kidney stones and helps to normalize water balance and blood pressure in the body. In this case, these nuts have an equal potassium level. Both contain 715 mg potassium per 100g [8].

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is the relative ranking of carbohydrates in food. The difference between glycemic indexes of these nuts is huge. The estimated glycemic index of chestnuts is 52, whereas the glycemic index of hazelnut is about 15. Hazelnuts are considered a low glycemic index food. The acidity (pH) of these nuts is almost equal, it is 5.9 – 6.3.

Health Benefits

Weight Loss

In the case of low calories and low fats diets, chestnuts are a good choice, they contain a low level of calories and fats.

Unlike chestnuts, hazelnuts have more calories, and fats, despite that, they also can be used in case of some diets. If you are on a low carbs diet, such as the Keto diet, hazelnuts are the better choice. Moreover, they have a low glycemic index, which is good in the case Low GI or Medium GI diets [9] [10]. 

Cardiovascular Health

Research shows that eating nuts may be good for your heart [11]. Antioxidants and minerals may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues, such as heart disease or stroke. Hazelnuts and chestnuts are rich in potassium, which is required to keep the heart beating by keeping electricity flowing throughout the human body. Moreover, hazelnuts are also high in antioxidants, such as oleic acid, phytosterols (mainly b-sitosterol), vitamin E, and squalene, which may lower cholesterol levels in the blood [12] [13]. 

 

Cancer

Chestnuts are a great source of Vitamin C, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tannins, which have strong antioxidant effects on the human body. According to one study, chestnuts may cure stomach cancer, epistaxis, and hemafecia. On the other hand, hazelnuts are rich in Vitamin E, which is an excellent dietary source of natural antioxidants. Research shows that some neolignans (cedrusin and balanophonin, and gallic acid) can inhibit the growth of human cancer cells. Besides, hazelnuts are rich in Vitamin B6, which may help to fight several types of cancer [14] [15].

Improve Brain Function

First of all, hazelnuts are rich in the Vitamin B family which are directly linked to proper neurological development and function. Besides, the tocotrienol-rich products can help to protect brain cells from diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. According to researchers, the micronutrients, and antioxidants in hazelnuts may protect the brain from oxidative stress.
Moreover, hazelnuts and chestnuts are rich in potassium, which can increase blood flow to the brain and promote good nervous system health [16] [17]. 

Boost Immune System

Research shows that vitamin C may help people to recover more quickly from the common cold.

The high level of vitamin C makes chestnuts an ideal boost to your immune system. Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells, and acts as an antioxidant, reducing the risk of formation of free radicals and neutralizing them before they cause healthy cells to mutate or induce oxidative stress near vital organs [18] [19].

Diabetes

According to studies, nuts, such as hazelnut or chestnut,  can help to reduce blood sugar levels.

Research shows that oleic acid in hazelnuts has beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity in 11 people with type 2 diabetes. Results show that a diet rich in these nuts can prevent the reduction of HDL-C concentrations in patients with type 2 diabetes [20]. 

Improving Hair  and Skin Health

Hazelnuts are rich in zinc, which is an important mineral for human health. This mineral may help to promote the formation of collagen to make hair healthy growth. By using hazelnut oil for scalp massages, you may stimulate the hair follicles and nourish them. Moreover, hazelnuts are a great source of Vitamin E, which can help your skin look young and vibrant. On the other hand, chestnuts are rich in Vitamin C, which can decrease oxidative stress and keep your skin healthy [21] [22]. 

Pregnancy

Studies show eating nuts during early pregnancy provides long-term benefits for a child's motor and cognitive development. Moreover, hazelnuts are a great source of omega-3s, which are essential during pregnancy. On the other hand, chestnuts contain folic acid which can help to prevent birth defects in newborns. Nevertheless, try to eat chestnuts in moderation to avoid excessive weight gain which is undesirable during pregnancy [23].

Downsides and Risks

Allergy

Patients that are allergic to tree pollen allergy often have an allergy to hazelnuts. The symptoms are common, and usually include itching, swelling, burning in the mouth and throat.

In cases of allergy to chestnut, the allergen responsible for the reaction is likely to be one of the lipid transfer proteins. 30% of patients with chestnut-allergic experience severe anaphylactic episodes of ingestion. Symptoms usually include wheezing, throat swelling, and breathing difficulty [24].

SUMMARY

Hazelnuts contain more vitamins, minerals, protein, and less sodium than chestnuts. On the other hand, chestnuts are lower in sugars, in calories, and have a higher level of Vitamin C. Hazelnuts contain 74 times more Vitamin E and 8 times more zinc than chestnuts.

References

  1. http://www.fao.org/3/x4484e/x4484e03.htm
  2. https://journals.ashs.org/horttech/view/journals/horttech/10/2/article-p296.xml
  3. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/nuts-source-of-energy-and-macronutrients/AAAEDDA038B08C0A00C802F00A7F4171
  4. https://sci-hub.se/10.1017/S095442241100014X
  5. http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/SERVER/APJCN/17/s1/329.pdf
  6. https://ifst.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2621.2009.02155.x
  7. https://sci-hub.se/https://doi.org/10.1016/S0048-9697(02)00611-3
  8. https://sci-hub.se/10.1017/BJN20061862
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32006366/
  10. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnme/2011/357350/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24398275/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27897978/
  13. https://sci-hub.se/10.1016/b978-0-12-375688-6.10072-6
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3133749/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4127821/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1790869/
  17. http://www.bourre.fr/pdf/publications_scientifiques/259.pdf
  18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17636648/
  19. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814611003943
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3793377/
  21. http://bergenhelse.no/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/A-potential-medicinal-importance-of-zinc-in-human-health-and-chronic-disease.pdf
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4828511/
  23. https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/rccm.200710-1544OC
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7811165/
Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Profession: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: April 1, 2021

Infographic

Hazelnut vs Chestnut infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
Contains more Iron +171.7%
Contains more Calcium +147.8%
Contains more Magnesium +201.9%
Contains more Copper +265.5%
Contains more Zinc +880%
Contains more Phosphorus +192.9%
Contains less Sodium -100%
Equal in Potassium - 715
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 177% 35% 60% 117% 575% 67% 125% 0%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 65% 14% 64% 39% 158% 7% 43% 4%
Contains more Iron +171.7%
Contains more Calcium +147.8%
Contains more Magnesium +201.9%
Contains more Copper +265.5%
Contains more Zinc +880%
Contains more Phosphorus +192.9%
Contains less Sodium -100%
Equal in Potassium - 715

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
Contains more Vitamin A +17.6%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +334.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +146.2%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +190.5%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +141.6%
Contains more Folate +197.4%
Contains more Vitamin C +323.8%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.104
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 21% 2% 301% 0% 161% 27% 34% 56% 130% 0% 36% 85%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 89% 2% 0% 0% 37% 24% 14% 19% 54% 0% 0% 29%
Contains more Vitamin A +17.6%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +334.5%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +146.2%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +190.5%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +141.6%
Contains more Folate +197.4%
Contains more Vitamin C +323.8%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.104

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
71
Hazelnut
22
Chestnut
Mineral Summary Score
144
Hazelnut
49
Chestnut

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
90%
Hazelnut
12%
Chestnut
Carbohydrates
17%
Hazelnut
28%
Chestnut
Fats
280%
Hazelnut
6%
Chestnut

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Hazelnut Chestnut
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Hazelnut Chestnut
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

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Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sodium?
Hazelnut
Hazelnut contains less Sodium (difference - 27mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Hazelnut
Hazelnut is lower in glycemic index (difference - 39)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Hazelnut
Hazelnut is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Hazelnut
Hazelnut is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Chestnut
Chestnut is lower in Sugar (difference - 4.34g)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Chestnut
Chestnut is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 4.204g)
Which food is cheaper?
Chestnut
Chestnut is cheaper (difference - $0.2)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Hazelnut Chestnut Opinion
Calories 628 131 Hazelnut
Protein 14.95 2 Hazelnut
Fats 60.75 1.38 Hazelnut
Vitamin C 6.3 26.7 Chestnut
Carbs 16.7 27.76 Chestnut
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 4.7 1.73 Hazelnut
Calcium 114 46 Hazelnut
Potassium 680 715 Chestnut
Magnesium 163 54 Hazelnut
Sugar 4.34 Chestnut
Fiber 9.7 Hazelnut
Copper 1.725 0.472 Hazelnut
Zinc 2.45 0.25 Hazelnut
Starch 0.48 Hazelnut
Phosphorus 290 99 Hazelnut
Sodium 0 27 Hazelnut
Vitamin A 20 17 Hazelnut
Vitamin E 15.03 Hazelnut
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.643 0.148 Hazelnut
Vitamin B2 0.113 0.104 Hazelnut
Vitamin B3 1.8 0.731 Hazelnut
Vitamin B5 0.918 0.316 Hazelnut
Vitamin B6 0.563 0.233 Hazelnut
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 14.2 Hazelnut
Folate 113 38 Hazelnut
Trans Fat
Saturated Fat 4.464 0.26 Chestnut
Monounsaturated Fat 45.652 0.476 Hazelnut
Polyunsaturated fat 7.92 0.545 Hazelnut
Tryptophan 0.193 0.022 Hazelnut
Threonine 0.497 0.071 Hazelnut
Isoleucine 0.545 0.079 Hazelnut
Leucine 1.063 0.118 Hazelnut
Lysine 0.42 0.118 Hazelnut
Methionine 0.221 0.047 Hazelnut
Phenylalanine 0.663 0.084 Hazelnut
Valine 0.701 0.112 Hazelnut
Histidine 0.432 0.055 Hazelnut
Fructose 0.07 Hazelnut

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Hazelnut - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170581/nutrients
  2. Chestnut - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170168/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.