(BPT) - Need a new snack? Hungry families are turning to a trendy and tasty new choice — the homegrown hazelnut. Perhaps parents outside the Pacific Northwest might not recognize the state nut of Oregon, but rest assured, there’s more to crack here than mere coffee flavoring.
You might not know that 99% of all the hazelnuts produced in the United States are grown in the picturesque Willamette Valley. Oregon’s rich, volcanic soil and climate conditions contribute to their quality and taste.
Some of the most popular ways to have hazelnuts — their nutty and buttery taste is described as umami — are roasted or seasoned. Hazelnuts are versatile and may be enjoyed with sweet or savory dishes.
Flavor aside, here are five reasons why hazelnuts, also known as filberts, make a great snack for the whole family.
1. They are packed with protein and vitamins.
This tree nut isn’t shy about all the wholesome goodness packed inside its shell. A single one-ounce serving of 21 hazelnuts contains:
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- 4 grams of plant-sourced protein, which helps the body do jobs like building and repairing skin and tissue.
- 35% of the recommended daily intake of the antioxidant vitamin E, which helps keep everyone’s immune systems strong and lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cancer.
- The highest concentration of any tree nut of naturally occurring B9 vitamin, also known as folate, which helps make healthy red blood cells and can prevent neural tube defects when babies are in utero.
2. They provide free-radical fighting manganese
Hazelnuts are high in the mineral manganese, which helps with blood clotting and forming the body’s connective tissues and bones. Manganese also is a critical component for antioxidant enzymes that fight free radicals in the body.
3. They are heart healthy
Hazelnuts are great for the heart because they have no cholesterol. Several studies have shown that they increase the “good” HDL-C cholesterol in the body. They also reduce triglycerides and LDL (the “bad” cholesterol). Furthermore, studies have shown that eating hazelnuts improves artery health and reduces inflammation, because they are rich in Omega 6 and 9.
4. They contain fantastic fiber
A single serving of hazelnuts offers nearly 3 grams of dietary fiber, which is more than 10% of a woman’s daily recommended intake. Dietary fiber helps to lower the risk of colorectal cancer, lower cholesterol levels and control blood sugar levels. As a bonus, high-fiber foods like hazelnuts are more filling, which means you stay satisfied longer.
5. They offer lower carbs than other nuts
We’ve all heard that cutting carbohydrates, or carbs, can be an important step in reducing appetite. The good news is that hazelnuts are lower in carbs than other nuts your family might already be enjoying like almonds or pistachios. Moreover, hazelnut butter is more nutritious than peanut butter.
Hazelnuts make families feel good about snacking
While many recognize hazelnuts as a topping to a sweet dessert or savory addition to a roasted lamb, hazelnuts also are a delicious way to taste Oregon in bite after bite.
Besides, if the kids ever happen to settle down and their parents can find time to enjoy a glass of wine, hazelnuts pair well with a chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon.
Founded in 1984, Hazelnut Growers of Oregon (HGO) offers Oregon Orchard hazelnuts. HGO is a farmer-owned cooperative with more than 180 growers. Thanks to the Willamette Valley’s ideal climate and soil, Oregon produces the world’s highest quality hazelnuts and 99% of the hazelnuts grown in the United States.
Certified as Kosher, Halal and part of the American Heart Association Heart-Check Food Certification Program, hazelnuts are a healthy choice to snack on.
To find Oregon Orchard hazelnuts near you, visit oregonorchard.com/find-a-retailer-near-you.