Chestnut has a plethora of health benefits but can babies eat chestnuts? Read this article to find the answer to this and to get more insight into chestnuts.
What are chestnuts?
Chestnuts grow on trees belonging to the genus Castanea. They have been used as food for thousands of years. Edible chestnuts are known as sweet chestnuts. They have a spiny outer husk and a dark brown shell within, the white, fleshy edible part. These are also healthy, delicious, slightly sweet, and crunchy. They can be eaten raw, roasted, dried, ground into flour, jam, or baked into pastries, cookies, and bread. There are four main chestnuts, the Chinese chestnut, Japanese chestnut, European chestnut, and the American chestnut. The main species sold nowadays across the world is the European chestnut, Castanea sativa.
The Nutritional Profile of Chestnuts
Chestnuts are lower in calories and fats compared to some other nuts. They are rich in amino acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, Vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, calcium, manganese, molybdenum, copper, magnesium, zinc, and iron. They are a rich vitamin C source, but a small percentage of the vitamin is lost if you boil or roast them. Roasting them at lower temperatures helps to preserve the vitamin C content. Chestnuts are a good source of antioxidants, which increase on cooking.
1/4 cup of raw chestnuts contain:
- Calories 77
- Protein 1g
- Carbohydrates 17g
- Fiber 3g
- Sugar 0g
- Cholesterol 0mg
- Sodium 1mg
Can Babies Eat Chestnuts?
Chestnuts are healthy, but they are hard to digest. Most doctors opine that it is better to wait till your baby is two or older to introduce him/her to chestnuts. This is because chestnuts can sometimes cause severe allergic reactions in some babies.
Chestnuts are good for brain development as they are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Antioxidants and minerals like magnesium and potassium reduce cardiovascular disease risk, promote heart health, reduce cholesterol, boost immunity, and lower cancer risk.
Chestnuts have fiber, which improves digestion, makes bowel movement regular, and supports healthy gut bacteria’s growth. It is also gluten-free, which makes it a safe option for babies with celiac disease.
Chestnuts have a low glycemic index of 54 and rich potassium content, which prevents blood sugar spikes and helps regulate blood sugar levels. B vitamins in chestnuts promote healthy skin, red blood cell production, and brain function.
Carbohydrates in the nuts provide energy and copper helps prevent anemia, irregular heart rhythms, and boosts immunity. Manganese prevents blood clotting, and magnesium increases bone mineral density.
Vitamin C content boosts immunity, prevents damage to cells from free radicals, and promotes gum health.
Ways to Prepare Chestnuts for Babies
Choose unblemished, whole chestnuts that are smooth and shiny. When giving it to your baby, crush it and feed it as whole chestnuts can cause choking hazards. Before oven or pan roasting or boiling chestnuts, score the outer part deeply with a knife to prevent them from exploding while cooking.
You can crush and sprinkle chestnuts over dishes to add a unique nutty flavor. Alternatively, you can either steam, grill or deep-fry them.
You can puree shelled, peeled chestnuts in a blender and add it to crepes or pancakes.
- Boil chestnuts for 2 to 3 minutes in a pot of boiling water. Remove them from the water, place them flat side down on a baking tray, and roast them in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. You can serve them as a snack after crushing them lightly or use them in salads.
- Roasted chestnuts can be powdered and added to plain hummus, and fed to your baby. Alternatively, you can add the powder to stewed apple puree or any other fruit puree.
- You can dry the nets and ground them into flour and then use it in cakes, pastries, cookies, and bread.
- Generally, raw chestnuts are safe to eat but contain tannic acid, which can cause stomach irritation, nausea, and liver damage. Tannic acid gives it a slightly bitter taste. Roast them for better taste.
- If your child already has a nut allergy, avoid them.
- They may cause a mild to severe allergic reaction, like eczema, rashes, and breathing difficulty. It could also be fatal. Consult your doctor before introducing chestnuts into your baby’s diet.
- Crush it before feeding, as it can be a choking hazard.
- Roasted chestnuts have high sugar content, so if diabetic, better to avoid them.