You can buy roasted chestnuts or roast them yourself in an oven. They make good snacks, and you can also use them for their texture and nutty flavor in recipes such as stuffings and casseroles. Chestnuts are lower in calories than regular nuts, but they are also lower in many essential nutrients. The nutrient content is the same for plain store-bought and homemade chestnuts, but some manufacturers may add ingredients such as sugar to some of their products. Check the labels of store-bought chestnuts for these ingredients.
Calories and Protein
Roasted chestnuts have 69 calories per ounce. Most nuts, such as almonds, macadamias or cashews, have 160 to 200 calories per ounce. Therefore, chestnuts may be beneficial if you are trying to restrict your calorie intake. However, regular nuts have about 4 to 7 grams of protein per ounce, while chestnuts have just 1 gram. Protein is a hunger-suppressing nutrient that may help you lose weight.
Fat and Carbohydrates
Each ounce of roasted chestnuts has 15 grams of total carbohydrates, including 3 grams of natural sugars. They have 1.4 grams of dietary fiber, or 6 percent of the daily value. Dietary fiber is a nutrient in plant-based foods that may lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Chestnuts have less than 1 gram of total fat. Most kinds of regular nuts have about 14 to 21 grams of total fat, with most of it coming from heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
A benefit of roasted chestnuts is that they are nearly sodium-free, with only 1 mg per ounce. You may be able to maintain a healthy blood pressure or lower your blood pressure by reducing the sodium in your diet. Healthy individuals should take in no more than 2,300 mg sodium per day. A limit of 1,500 mg per day is the recommendation if you already have high blood pressure or diabetes, if you are over age 50 or if you are of African-American descent.
Roasted chestnuts provide 168 mg of potassium. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend consuming at least 4,700 mg potassium per day. Potassium is essential for regulating blood pressure. Chestnuts have 20 mcg of folate, or 5 percent of the daily value, and 7 mg of vitamin C, or 12 percent of the daily value. Adequate folate intake may lower your risk for heart disease, and vitamin C is necessary for your immune system and for proper wound healing.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Nuts and Seed Products (.pdf)
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010; January 2010 (.pdf)
- Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center; Nuts; Victoria Drake; June 2009
- Harvard School of Public Health: Protein: Moving Closer to Center Stage
- Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center; Vitamin C; Victoria Drake; November 2009
- Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center; Folic Acid; Victoria Drake; September 2007