Hazelnuts are native to many parts of the Northern Hemisphere. They grow on deciduous trees in many regions of the world. The two major hazelnut-growing areas are Turkey and Oregon in the USA.
All species of hazelnut shrubs and trees produce edible nuts. The hazelnut has a husk around the shell that is very unusual and distinctive from most other tree nuts.
Hazelnut trees range from 3 to 36 metres in height. The roundish or oblong brown nut is usually 1 to 4 cm long and is partly or wholly enclosed in a husk. Hazelnut trees have deep roots and they fruit best under full sunlight and when planted in well-drained soil.
For hundreds of millennia, hazelnut trees were coppiced for the production of wood for a variety of uses. Hazel has also long been the chosen wood to make staffs for ritual Druidic use, shepherds crooks, staffs for self-defence and for pilgrims, and for everyday walking sticks.
The Celtic name for the hazel tree means nine and the Hazel Moon is the ninth month of the Celtic Tree Calendar. In Celtic mythology, nine magical hazel trees hang over the sacred Well of Wisdom dropping their hazelnuts into the well. The water of the well flows into streams where the magical nuts are eaten by the Salmon of Wisdom. It was also believed that Hazel trees grew near sacred sites and magical places.
Hazelnuts are mentioned for their nutritional and healing power in the Bible and in ancient Greek and Roman writings and mythology. Hazelwood and hazelnuts are also believed to give you knowledge, wisdom and poetic inspiration.
Hazelnuts have many health benefits, including reducing blood fat levels, regulating blood pressure, and reducing inflammation. Also, hazelnuts contain several compounds that may help lower blood sugar levels.
Hazelnuts are packed with many nutrients including vitamin B, minerals including manganese and copper, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Hazelnuts help prevent and decrease inflammation due to their high concentrations of healthy fats. Hazelnuts also contain a lot of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids.
Hazelnuts are a rich source of unsaturated fat, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamin E, folate, pantothenic acid and biotin. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and it also helps to the formation of red corpuscles, muscles and other body tissue. Hazelnuts are also a plentiful and easily stored source of protein.
Folate is important to enjoy a healthy pregnancy and for the health of the baby. Higher consumption of folate also protects against cardiovascular diseases and cancer of the colon and the cervix. Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) promotes healthy metabolism and the formation of nerves. Biotin is essential for the functioning of many of your enzymatic systems.
It is best to eat hazelnuts whole and unroasted to ensure you get the highest concentration of antioxidants. The high concentration of antioxidant compounds, vitamin E, and manganese in hazelnuts may help decrease the risk of certain cancers.
The consumption of at least 150g of hazelnuts a day protects against heart attacks. Hazelnuts help reduce the risk of heart disease by increasing oxidative capacity of blood cells and reduce blood lipid levels. They also help to normalize blood pressure.
The Hazel tree was considered a living source of knowledge and wisdom and its nuts are a powerful tool for creativity and inspiration. Carry a hazelnut with you to help you to attract spiritual teachers and magic into your life.
Hazelnuts are also a symbol of good luck. If you find two hazelnuts in the same shell, eat the first one, and throw the other over your left shoulder to make your wish come true.
Hazelnuts have long been used as a magical fertility charm. Brides were traditionally given hazelnuts for good luck and fertility. Carry a hazelnut with you if you wish to conceive or collect a small bag of nuts as a gift for a bride.
To welcome the help of plant fairies, string hazelnuts on a cord and hang up in your house or meditation space.
Wands made of Hazelwood symbolize white magic and healing. Hazel is excellent for making all-purpose magical wands and also the forked sticks used to find water or buried treasure.
Rods made from the wood of the hazel tree have been used for divining water and earth energies. Hazelwood is pliant and supple and responds well to subtle energy vibrations and environmental changes.
Hazelnuts are very versatile. You can eat them as a healthy snack or use them as an ingredient in many dishes. You can even help clear a stubborn cough by finely powdering some hazelnuts and mixing them with water and honey.
Enjoy hazelnuts raw, roasted, whole, sliced or ground. They are the tastiest and nutritious with the skin on.
Ground hazelnuts are mixed with flour and added to baked goods and other dishes for their nutrition and added flavour.
For a healthy snack try a handful of hazelnuts in the middle of the morning or afternoon. For a sweet or spicy treat, hazelnuts are also coated with chocolate, cinnamon or cayenne.
Peeled hazelnuts are ground to make flour for baking or to make hazelnut butter. They are also used in cakes and as a topping for ice creams and other desserts.