Nutrition and health benefits of hazelnuts Hazelnuts have a variety of nutrients and health effects making them a worthwhile addition to a heart healthy diet:
A rich source of healthy fats – hazelnuts contain mostly healthy monounsaturated fats (79% of total fat), and have a lower proportion of saturated fat (4% of total fat).6
High in dietary fibre – with their burnished brown coats a 30g serve of hazelnuts provides more than 10% of the recommended dietary intake of fibre.6, 7 A high-fibre diet can benefit heart and digestive health and help manage blood glucose levels.8 Eating more fibre can also assist with weight management by keeping you feeling full for longer.8
An excellent source of vitamin E – hazelnuts contain significant amounts of vitamin E.6 A 30g serve provides 45% of the recommended daily intake of this vitamin.6, 7 Vitamin E is an important fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.9
Rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals – hazelnuts are a rich source of antioxidants, particularly the
hazelnut skins.10–14 Protective plant compounds such as phenolic acids and flavanols may help to protect against chronic disease. Hazelnuts have a high antioxidant capacity 9645 umol TE/100g as measured by ORAC.21
Contains plant omega-3 fats – while having only small amounts (120mg/100g), hazelnuts are one of the few plant foods which contain short-chain omega-3 fats – alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)6 – which has heart health properties.15 Long chain omega-3s are mostly found in fish and seafood.
A source of plant protein – particularly the amino acid arginine.6 Hazelnuts contain around 15g protein per 100g6 so are good for vegetarians and those wanting to reduce their intake of animal protein foods. Arginine, a protein building block, is converted to nitric oxide in the body, which causes blood vessels to dilate and remain elastic.16 This may play a role in maintaining a healthy blood pressure.22
A source of copper and manganese – a 30g handful of hazelnuts provides 15% of RDI for copper and 21% of RDI for manganese.6 While needed in small amounts these trace elements play an important role in health. Copper is part of several different enzymes in the body. It helps the body use iron and is important for nerve function.7 Manganese is involved in bone formation and carbohydrate metabolism.7 They can also act as antioxidants, protecting cell membranes from harmful free radicals.7
Contains folate – a 30g serve of hazelnuts contains 17% the RDI for folate. Folate contributes to tissue growth during pregnancy.7
Improves blood cholesterol and triglycerides – a diet containing 40g of hazelnuts each day has been shown to improve blood fats better than a lowfat diet, resulting in a significant fall in triglycerides and cholesterol, and an increase in the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.17 Another study found eating 1g of hazelnuts per kilogram of body weight per day reduced the oxidation of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol which can stick to artery walls obstructing blood vessels.18
A combination of the healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamin E, copper, manganese, fibre and arginine in hazelnuts, and their antioxidant and cholesterol lowering effects, may help explain why hazelnuts maintains heart health.
Hazelnuts also …
Help with weight loss – although high in fat, research has found that eating nuts does not lead to weight gain and in fact may help with weight management.1–4 One study found that eating 40g of hazelnuts per day led to a reduction BMI and amount of body fat despite having a higher energy intake.17 Another study found that a traditional Mediterranean diet including nuts (30g/day of almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts) did not result in a change in body weight or waist circumference when compared to a lower-fat diet despite the higher fat and energy intake.20
Are gluten free – hazelnut meal is a great gluten free alternative to wheat flour for those with Coeliac disease. Hazelnut meal that includes the hazelnuts skins adds a dose of fibre to gluten free diets which often lack fibre.
Buying and storage tips
When choosing nuts, look for crisp, plump kernels. If buying hazelnuts in shell, select clean nuts free from cracks and holes. To keep nuts in the best condition, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Nuts can be refrigerated for up to 4 months and frozen for up to 6 months. Bring nuts back to room temperature before eating.
8 ways to include hazelnuts in your diet
- Team them with craisins (dried cranberries) for a tasty antioxidant rich snack.
- Sprinkle roughly chopped hazelnuts on your breakfast cereal.
- Crush hazelnuts and add to tomato based pasta sauces.
- Mix with berries and add to your favourite muffin recipe
- Hazelnut meal or ground hazelnuts make a great gluten free cake or torte.
- Top chicken or fish with a mixture of finely chopped hazelnuts, breadcrumbs and your favourite freshly chopped herbs.
- Fold ground hazelnuts into meringue mixture to make tasty hazelnuts macaroons.
- Shape reduced fat cream cheese into balls and roll in chopped hazelnuts for an interesting twist to your usual cheese platter.
Nutrient content of natural hazelnuts6
|Fat, total (g)||61.4|
|Fat, saturated (g)||2.7|
|Fat, monounsaturated (g)||48.8|
|Fat, polyunsaturated (g)||7.2|
|Alpha Linolenic Acid (mg)||120|
|Carbohydrate, total (g)||5.1|
|Carbohydrate, sugars (g)||4.4|
|Vitamin E (mg)||16.0|
|Total polyphenols (mg GAE)21||835|
- Albert CM, et al. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physicians Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 2002;162(12):1382-7.
- Ellsworth JL, et al. Frequent nut intake and risk of death from coronary heart disease and all causes in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study. Nutrition Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease. 2001;11(6):372-7.
- Hu FB, et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal. 1998;317(7169):1341-5.
- Fraser GE, et al. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med. 1991;152:1416-24.
- Afshin A, et al. Consumption of nuts and legumes and risk of incident ischemic heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100(1):278-88.
- Nuts for Life. 2016 Nutrient Composition of Tree Nuts. Sydney: Nuts for Life; 2016.
- National Health & Medical Research Council. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government Department of Health & Ageing 2006. www.nrv.gov.au
- Anderson JW, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutr Rev. 2009;67(4):188-205.
- Mente A, et al. A systematic review of the evidence supporting a causal link between dietary factors and coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(7):659-69.
- Alasalvar C, et al. Antioxidant Activity of Hazelnut Skin Phenolics. J Agric Food Chem. 2009;7:7.
- Shahidi F, et al. Antioxidant phytochemicals in hazelnut kernel (Corylus avellana L.) and hazelnut byproducts. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Feb 21;55(4):1212–20. Erratum in: J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Apr 18;55(8):3232.
- Chen CY, et al. Phytochemical composition of nuts. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17(Suppl 1):329-332.
- Kornsteiner M, et al. Tocopherols and total phenolics in 10 different nut types. Food Chemistry. 2005;98(2):381-387.
- Monagas M, et al. Comparative Flavan-3-ol Profile and Antioxidant Capacity of Roasted Peanut, Hazelnut, and Almond Skins. J Agric Food Chem. 2009;57(22):10590-9.
- de Lorgeril M, et al. Alpha-linolenic acid and coronary heart disease. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2004;14(3):162-9.
- Bai Y, et al. Increase in fasting vascular endothelial function after short-term oral L-arginine is effective when baseline flow-mediated dilation is low: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(1):77-84.
- Mercanligil SM, et al. Effects of hazelnut-enriched diet on plasma cholesterol and lipoprotein profiles in hypercholesterolemic adult men. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007;61(2):212-220.
- Yücesan FB, et al. Hazelnut consumption decreases the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation, plasma oxidized LDL level and increases the ratio of large/small LDL in normolipidemic healthy subjects. Anadolu Kardiyol Derg. 2010;10(1):28-35.
- Durak I, et al. Hazelnut supplementation enhances plasma antioxidant potential and lowers plasma cholesterol levels. Clin Chim Acta. 1999;284(1):113-5.
- Fito M, et al. Effect of a traditional Mediterranean diet on lipoprotein oxidation: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(11):1195-1203.
- Wu X, et al. Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States. J Agric Food Chem 2004;52 4026-4037
- Nittynen L, et al. Role of arginine, taurine and homocysteine in cardiovascular diseases. Ann Med. 1999;31(5):318-26.