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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 866: I European Congress on Chestnut - Castanea 2009

CHESTNUTS, A "COMFORT" HEALTHY FOOD?

Authors:   I. Mujić, V. Agayn, J. ¿ivković, D. Velić, S. Jokić, V. Alibabić, A. Rekić
Keywords:   Catanea sativa Mill., resistant starch, storage, celiac disease, blood sugar
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2010.866.88
Abstract:
Chestnut has been a staple food since ancient times and after being set aside for several centuries, it has finally regained appreciation within the group of patisserie connoisseurs and has been expanded among health conscious consumers. Being relatively cheap in a modern agricultural practice, a chestnut deserves a better appreciation as a source of valuable nutrients and in terms of its composition and properties which positively affect human health when included in various modern foods. Also, it contains a very large amount of vitamin C, considerable vitamin B6, thiamin, folate and riboflavin, large amounts of manganese, potassium, copper, phosphorus, magnesium and iron, a small amount of valuable unsaturated fatty acids and 40% of its dry matter is composed of non-resistant and resistant starch. Chestnut is gluten-free and that makes it useful as a food for celiac patients who suffer from gluten intolerance manifested in stomach discomfort and diarrhea, fatigue and many other symptoms. On the other hand, resistant starch, which survives the small intestines and decomposes in the rectum, serves as a bulking agent to provide a feeling of satiety and it transfers sugar to the blood via a sort of controlled-released mechanism. Results from investigations on the health benefits of chestnuts in modern foods in general and the effects on the well-being of celiac patients in particular are reviewed: patient’s comfort, satiety, and blood sugar levels. The effect of storage conditions and the chestnut cultivar on starch digestibility are studied in a two-month period. A decrease of up to 30% regarding resistant starch composition is observed for some cultivars when stored at 20°C as opposed to storage at -18°C. This study shows that different storage conditions affect the content of non-resistant and resistant starch.

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