American Indians were eating the American chestnut species, Castanea Dentata especially, before European immigrants brought their varieties to America.
Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) is a large, rapidly growing tree native from the Balkan Peninsula. Flowers of Horse Chestnut are white or pink with a small red spot. Leaves are large, consisting of either five or seven leaflets and the fruit is round with a thick, green, spiny husk containing a glossy brown seed.
In the past, in Europe the Seed Extract of Horse Chestnut was used as a treatment for various ailments, including rheumatism, rectal complaints, bladder and gastrointestinal disorders, fever, hemorrhoids and leg cramps.
Currently, Horse Chestnut Seed Extract is widely used in Europe for chronic venous insufficiency, hemorrhoids, post-operative edema, and topically for clearing skin conditions.
In the United States, Horse Chestnut Seed Extract is accepted as an effective therapy for venous disorders and edema.
The primary active constituent found in Horse Chestnut Seed Extract is aescin. Aescin from HCSE has been shown to have anti-edematous, anti-inflammatory, and venotonic properties that may be attributable to decreased vascular permeability.
Do not confuse Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), with other species of chestnut, Aesculus Pavia or “chestnut with red flowers”, whose seeds are poisonous because they contain hydrocyanic acid.
Sweet chestnuts, European chestnut (Castanea Sativa) and American chestnut (Castanea Dentata) have very little protein or fat, their calories coming chiefly from carbohydrates. Fresh chestnut fruits have about 180 calories per 100 grams of edible parts, which is lower than walnuts, almonds, other nuts and dried fruit. Chestnuts contain no cholesterol and contain very little fat, mostly unsaturated, and no gluten. In addition, chestnuts contain about 8 percent of various sugars. They are the only “nuts” that contain vitamin C which is about 65 percent of the U.S. recommended daily intake.
Sweet Chestnuts can be peeled and eaten raw, but they are not easily peeled cold. Another method of eating the fruit involves roasting, which does not need peeling. The nuts can also be eaten candied, boiled, steamed, deep-fried, grilled, or roasted in sweet or savory recipes. Chestnuts are great for snacking on, adding to salads, or mixing into stuffing with cranberries or apples. You can boil them with meat, or sauté with garlic and vegetables. Chestnuts are perfect paired with chocolate or baked into cakes.
Food made from Sweet Chestnuts
Chestnut flour is great for baking, especially for those with intolerance for gluten. It can be made by drying roasted and peeled chestnuts at a very low temperature, or in a dehydrator, and then grinding them finely.
Chestnut Puree (Sweet Chestnut) – a healthy and tasty recipe.
Chestnut purée Ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- Butter 50 g
- Edible chestnuts 1 lb (1.63 o.z. or 500 mg)
- Rum 1-2 tablespoons
Boil the chestnuts 30-40 minutes; then peel and blend them with just enough milk until becoming a smooth paste. Add the sugar and rum, and then mix the composition. Serve topped with sour cream.
Healthy Home Remedies
Decoction (Aesculus Hippocastanum)
Place two tablespoons of dried, chopped chestnuts in a cup of water (250 ml). Boil it on low heat for 15 minutes, completing the water gradually as evaporates. It can refrigerate no more than three days. A decoction treatment of 15-20 drops per day is particularly effective in treating neurosis, reduce menstrual pain and remove fever.
Decoction is also used externally as a local bathing to cure hemorrhoids.
Chestnut syrup (Aesculus Hippocastanum)
Chestnut syrup strengthens muscles and is especially good for children with anemia or difficulty with concentration. It is prepared by mixing 500 ml decoction with 500 g sugar or honey. The mixture is heated until the components are dissolved and the liquid is homogeneous. After cooling, it is poured into sterilized glass bottles. The usual dose is 5 ml (teaspoon) three times a day for children and for adults double.
Tincture (Aesculus Hippocastanum)
Preparation: put 250 g chopped chestnuts with shell in one liter of 40% alcohol and allow to soak for 14 days; strain it into a brown glass and take 10-15 drops per day internally for the treatment of thrombosis and varicose veins.