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Hazelnuts nutrition facts

Hazelnuts are sweet, and incredibly nutritious edible kernels from the "birch" or Betulaceae family of trees. “Filbert” (C.maxima) is similar in kind and related to the common hazel but only differing in having its nut totally covered by its tubular involucre. In Britain, both of these nuts are in general enjoyed as "cobnuts."

Scientific name: Corylus avellana.

The hazel is a small deciduous tree originated in southern Europe and Turkey. It is now being cultivated in many regions of the world, including the USA as a major commercial crop.

shelled hazelnut
Fiberts, shelled-close up view.
Photo courtesy: katerha

Hazels appear in clusters. Each nut is held inside the short leafy involucre or "capsule" enclosing about three-quarters of the kernel. Each yellow-brown color kernel is roughly spherical to oval in shape, about 1.5-2 cm long and 1.2 -2 cm broad, featuring a light scar at its base. They generally fall out of this leafy involucre or capsule once ripe about 7-8 months after pollination.

Hazelnut oil, extracted from the kernels, has been used in as base or carrier oil in medicine, and in aromatherapy.

Health Benefits of Hazelnuts

  • Hazelnuts are very high in energy and loaded with many health-benefiting nutrients that are essential for optimum health. 100 g nuts carry 628 calories. They are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic as well as essential fatty acid, linoleic acid that helps lower LDL or bad cholesterol and raises HDL or good cholesterol. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet plentiful in monounsaturated fatty acids contribute to preventing coronary artery disease, and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

  • The nuts are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and packed with numerous health promoting phytochemicals. Altogether, they help protect from diseases and cancers.

  • Hazels are exceptionally rich in folate, which is a unique feature for the nuts. 100 g fresh nuts carry 113 µg; that is, about 28% recommended the daily intake of this vitamin. Folate is an essential B-complex vitamin that helps prevent megaloblastic anemia, and most importantly, neural tube defects in the newborn. Good news for the expectant mothers!

  • Hazel nuts are an excellent source of vitamin-E; contain about 15 g per 100 g (providing 100% of RDA). Vitamin-E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant required for maintaining the integrity of mucosa and skin by protecting it from harmful "free oxygen radicals".

  • The nuts, like in almonds, are free from gluten, and therefore, safe alternative food sources that can be employed in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas for gluten-sensitive, wheat allergic, and celiac disease patients.

  • Besides being rich in folates, they packed with many other important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6).

  • They are rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. Copper and manganese are essential co-factors for antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron helps prevent microcytic-anemia. Magnesium and phosphorus are vital components of bone metabolism.

  • Hazelnut oil has a nutty aroma and has excellent astringent properties. It helps keep skin well protected from dryness. The oil has also been used in cooking, and as “carrier or base oil” in traditional medicines in massage therapy, aromatherapy, in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Hazelnuts (Corylus avellana),
Nutritional value per 100 g.

(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 628 Kcal 31%
Carbohydrates 16.7 g 13%
Protein 14.95g 26.5%
Total Fat 60.75 g 202%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 9.7 g 25.5%
Vitamins
Folates 113 µg 28%
Niacin 1.8 mg 11%
Pantothenic acid 0.918 mg 18%
Pyridoxine 0.563 mg 43%
Riboflavin 0.113 mg 9%
Thiamin 0.643 mg 53.5%
Vitamin A 20 IU <1%
Vitamin C 6.3 mg 10.5%
Vitamin E 15 mg 100%
Vitamin K 14.2 µg 12%
Electrolytes
Sodium 0 mg 0%
Potassium 680 mg 14%
Minerals
Calcium 114 mg 11%
Copper 1.725 mg 192%
Iron 4.7 mg 59%
Magnesium 163 mg 41%
Manganese 6.17 mg 268%
Phosphorus 290 mg 41%
Zinc 2.45 mg 22%
Phyto-nutrients
Carotene-α 3 µg --
Carotene-ß 11 µg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 92 µg --

Selection and storage

Hazelnuts can be available in the market year around. In the stores, several different forms of hazels can be sold such as shelled, unshelled, salted, sweetened, or ground, etc. Try to buy unshelled (with the outer shell) raw nuts instead of processed ones. The nuts should feature bright brown-yellow color, compact, uniform in size and feel heavy in hand. They should not feature any surface cracks, molds, and spots and free from rancid smell.

Unshelled hazels can be stored in cool, dry place for years. Store shelled (without their outer coat) nuts, however, inside an airtight container and place in the refrigerator to avoid them turn rancid.


Culinary uses

Hazelnuts are eaten on its own, roasted, salted, or sweetened. Hazels, as well as filberts, are nutty yet pleasantly sweet in taste.

Here are some serving tips:

hazelnut praline on chocolate cake
Cake with hazelnut praline.
Photo: jules
  • Hazels widely employed in the confectionery, as an addition to chocolates, biscuits, sweets, and cakes.

  • They are also used to make hazelnut butter, which is a popular alternative for peanut allergy sufferers. It is also less salty in taste. It contains, however, more fat content than soy or peanut butter.


Safety profile

Hazelnut allergy is a type-1 (Ig-E mediated) hypersensitivity response in some people to food substances prepared with using these nuts. In general, the allergic reaction is relatively more commonly precipitated by exposure to tree pollen.

The allergic symptoms, known as "oral allergy syndrome," may include itchiness around lips, tongue, and throat followed by swelling of lips and throat leading to breathing difficulty. Often, cross-reactions to certain other nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables are common. Individuals with known allergy to them are, therefore, advised to avoid any food preparations that contain hazelnut products. (Medical Disclaimer).



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Further Resources:

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database.

  2. Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk.

  3. University of Minnetosa Extension Service-Rural Advantage.




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