Monday, October 19, 2020
Food and health


Do you have cellulite? Eat chestnuts. But do you know how to recognize marrons from chestnuts? Here are some tips and the story of a fruit that offers an incredible amount of benefits and nutritional values


It is autumn, and on November 11, St. Martin’s Day is celebrated throughout Italy: chestnuts and new wine will be great protagonists. But what are the qualities and the benefits of chestnuts? And could you recognize chestnuts from marrons? No? Then follow us on this journey about the most loved fruit of the autumn.

Chestnuts are not marrons


Chestnuts are the female fruit of the Castanea sativa tree. As a result, they have a very variable shape, size, and taste, although the same tree produces them.

Marrons, on the other hand, are the products of those cultivated and non-wild chestnut trees and were obtained based on long botanical studies, with grafts and prunings.

Chestnuts have been used for centuries by mountain people, who turned them into flour or cooked them on the fire. Marrons, on the other hand, have been developed directly for sale. The family, of course, is the same: the achenes.

Qualities and benefits of chestnuts and marrons


Chestnuts and marrons are rich in quality and should be consumed more and more often. In the past, the use of chestnut flours was fundamental in the diet of many Italians, while today consumption has also decreased due to the increasingly less suitable climate for their production.

The chestnut is a satiating fruit and, despite what some believe, they are very useful for those suffering from constipation being rich in fiber.

They are also very rich in minerals and fight anemia and mental and physical fatigue thanks to their high caloric intake (depending on the type of cooking, from 197 to 287 calories in 100 grams) and to the high concentration of carbohydrates (they cover the glucose requirement of a meal entirely). As a result, chestnuts significantly strengthen the body and fight flu and winter illnesses.

As mentioned, they also fight anemia precisely because they are very rich in iron, to which folic acid is added. The latter helps prevent fetal malformations, so chestnuts are particularly recommended in the diet of pregnant women.

Also, the nervous system is helped by the consumption of this fruit, as marrons and chestnuts are rich in phosphorus (it is a calcifier that collaborates in the formation of nerve cells).

Celiacs can also consume chestnuts since they do not contain gluten, although they have characteristics similar to cereals. Also, for this reason, they are cholesterol-free, and therefore, recommended to those who want to fight their hypercholesterolemia.

Finally, here are some vitamins contained in chestnuts:

  • A vitamin
  • B1 vitamin
  • B2 vitamin
  • B5 vitamin
  • B3 vitamin
  • B6 vitamin
  • B9 vitamin (the folic acid that we talked about)
  • C vitamin
  • D vitamin

Among the amino acids present, however, there are aspartic acid, the glutamic acid, arginine, serine, and threonine. And then, in random order, sodium, sulfur (a disinfectant and antiseptic), calcium, magnesium (regenerates the nerves to help calcium in the formation of the skeleton), chlorine (for teeth and tendons).

But do chestnuts make you fat?


No, less than bread. Clearly, if you are on a diet, it would be better if you eat either bread or chestnuts, but you should know that the glycemic index of chestnuts is 60, while bread (white or wholemeal) is 70, as, for calories, everything depends from the type of cooking.

For 100 grams of boiled chestnuts, calories are around 120

For 100 grams of fresh and raw chestnuts (which, however, could upset the stomach) there are 100 calories

There are about 190 calories per 100 grams of roasted chestnuts

Finally, for 100 grams of dried chestnuts, there are 300 calories

Therefore, to limit calories and keep your figure, it will be better to consume them boiled. Avoid, however, toppings such as jams and chocolate (the classic marron glacé).

Furthermore, still for 100 grams, chestnuts contain:

  • Water 42.4 g
  • Carbohydrates 41.8 g
  • Sugars 10.7 g
  • Proteins 3.7 g
  • Fats 2.4 g
  • Cholesterol 0 g
  • Total fiber 8.3 g

Ok, lots of benefits, but are there any contra-indications?


Yes, a couple. Moreover, in life, nothing is all white or all black. Being rich in carbohydrates and, therefore, sugars, chestnuts, or marrons are not indicated for those who have diabetes, colitis, or obesity. Furthermore, it is not recommended to eat them raw because they could lead to gastritis or poor digestion.

How to distinguish marrons from chestnuts

Marrons and chestnuts are not the same, and a royal decree of 1939 states it.

There are differences, and they are many, but we need a trained eye. Here are a couple of tips so you won’t be fooled at the supermarket or during the autumn festivals.

Let’s start with the hedgehog: if in the chestnut one there can be up to 7, in the marron one, there will be a maximum of 3. Also, among the marrons, the septate chestnuts are less than 12%. They are those in which the skin that lies between the fruit and the peel penetrates deeply dividing the fruit. Thus, a chestnut – most likely – is the one that, once peeled, is divided into two. The fact that the cuticle (or episperm) is particularly thick not only creates the septate but makes it more difficult to peel a chestnut than marron.

The shape, then, is decisive. In the wild chestnut hedgehog, there are more fruits, so these are smaller and more squashed and squared. Furthermore, the color of the skin is darker. Marrons, on the other hand, are larger, lighter, and have a rounded heart shape; the streaks are darker and feel in relief to the touch.



Curiosities about chestnuts

When does a chestnut tree begin to bear fruit?

The first visible fruits among the branches of a chestnut tree can appear after about 15 years, but you could even wait up to 50 years before these fruits are good.

When was the Marron Glacé born?

In France in the sixteenth century, the first marron glacé was produced, candied, and glazed marron obtained from over twenty steps, strictly handmade. At the time, giving the ladies large chestnuts packaged in glazed sweets meant mischievous meanings. In 1790 the recipe of the marron glacé appeared for the first time in the treatise “The Piedmontese confectioner who teaches how to candy fruit in different ways, making biscuits, marzipan, canestrelli, brandy, sorbets and many other things belonging to such art.”

Are chestnuts an aphrodisiac?

Thanks also to their shape similar to a testicle, in the Middle Ages chestnuts, were considered aphrodisiac, boiled, or marinated in wine. But this belief has never been confirmed by any scientific study.

What are the horse chestnuts?

The horse chestnuts are toxic and inedible, also called wild or false. They are the fruits of the horse-chestnut tree, a plant that we usually find in the parks or the avenues of our cities. They are bright, shiny, very large, and round chestnuts. They do not have a velvety surface, and the light part at the base is wider than the regular chestnuts, besides being devoid of the lower apical tuft.

Can chestnuts be harvested in the mountains?

If you want to collect some hedgehogs and chestnuts in the woods, you should know that Italian law imposes a limit on the number of chestnuts that each person can harvest in one day (generally, it cannot exceed 2 kg per day per person). This limit varies depending on the region, so be very careful if you don’t want to incur heavy penalties.


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Alessio Poliandri
My name is Alessio Poliandri. I work in the IT sector. I am Fabrizio Doremi's “business brother” and I share with him the birth year, the Wiloca and Foodiestrip foundation and many passions that only nerds can understand. For example the Star Wars soundtrack. For you is just a soundtrack. For us it's an hymn. With initiation ritual.