Chestnuts, unlike other nuts and seeds, are relatively low in calories and fats. Nonetheless, they are rich sources of minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients that immensely benefit health.
Another unique feature of chestnuts is that they primarily compose of starch (carbohydrates) in contrast to other kinds of tree seeds and nuts which are rather high in calorie, protein, and fat. Chestnuts nutrition composition is, therefore, comparable to that of other staple starch foods such as sweet potato, sweet corn, potatoes, plantain. Nevertheless, they are still good sources of minerals, vitamins and some good-quality protein than cereals and tubers.
They are an excellent source of dietary fiber; provide 8.1 g (about 21% of RDI) per 100 g. Fiber diet helps lower blood cholesterol levels by limiting excess cholesterol absorption in the intestines.
Chestnuts stand out from other edible nuts for their distinctive nutrition profile. They are exceptionally rich in vitamin-C. 100 g nuts provide 43 mg of vitamin-C (72 % of DRI). Vitamin-C is required for matrix formation in teeth, bones and blood vessels. Being a strong antioxidant, it offers protection from harmful free radicals.
Again, chestnuts are rich in folates akin to green leafy vegetables, which is quite a rare but unique feature for nuts and seeds. 100 g nuts provide 62 µg of folates (or 15.5%). Folic acid is essential for the formation of red blood cells, and DNA synthesis. Adequate consumption of food rich in folates during the peri-conception period helps prevent neural tube defects in the newborn.
Like true nuts, they too are a rich source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid (18:1) and palmitoleic acids (16:1). Studies suggest that monounsaturated fats (MUFs) in the diet help lower total as well as LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels within the blood. Mediterranean diet which is rich in dietary fiber, MUFs, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants help prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
The nuts are an excellent source of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc, besides providing a very good amount of potassium (518 mg / 100 g). Potassium counters hypertensive action of sodium, lowers heart rate and blood pressure. Iron helps prevent microcytic anemia. Magnesium and phosphorus are essential components of bone metabolism.
Further, they are also rich in many important B-complex groups of vitamins. 100 g of nuts provide 11% of niacin, 29% of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), 100% of thiamin, and 12% of riboflavin.
Chestnuts, just like hazelnuts and almonds, etc., are gluten free food items. Moreover, for the same reason, they are one of the popular ingredients in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas intended for use in gluten-sensitive, wheat allergy, and celiac disease patients.
Chinese chestnuts (C. mollissima) are good in vitamin A; provide 202 IU per 100 g.