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Acorns Aren’t Just For Squirrels. You Can Eat Them Too!

 Acorns – or oak nuts – are found in many parts of the world. Yet, they aren’t exactly seen as edible. Maybe for squirrels, yeah. But humans don’t really consume acorns, right? Well, you might be surprised to know that these wild nuts were once a dietary staple. Many ancient civilizations, such as the Assyrians and Greeks, and more recently the Chinese and Native Americans used to consume acorns as a delicacy. Unfortunately, over the last 500 years or so, acorns have lost their popularity, primarily due to their bitter taste and reputation of being "toxic." 
However, acorns are highly nutritious and offer several wonderful benefits that you might not be aware of. So, if you really wanted to and know how to prepare them, you could technically consume them. Intrigued? Find out more about the health benefits of acorns in this article.

1. They are a good source of nutrients

Benefits of Acorns, nutrients
Acorns are packed with plenty of essential nutrients. These wild nuts are especially high in potassium, iron, vitamins A and E, as well as protein, carbohydrates, fats, calcium, and phosphorus. 
Acorns are also a good source of B-vitamins, particularly of B6 and B9, but they also have some vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5. All of these vitamins play a vital role in metabolism and energy. Additionally, these nuts are low in calories and contain healthy unsaturated fats.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of acorns provides you with:
110 calories
6 grams of protein
24 grams of fat
0 grams of cholesterol
41 grams of carbohydrates
41 milligrams of calcium
1 milligram of iron
62 milligrams of magnesium
79 milligrams of phosphorus
539 milligrams of potassium.

2. Can improve gut health

Acorns are rich in fiber, which promotes a healthy gut microbiome. Furthermore, oak nuts have also been used as an herbal remedy to treat digestive issues, such as stomach pain, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea.
Research indicates that acorns may help people with indigestion. A study of 23 adult participants with chronic indigestion showed that those people who took 100 mg of acorn extract had comparatively less overall stomach pain than those who took a cornstarch capsule.

3. Stronger and healthier bones

As we mentioned above, acorns are a great source of potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. All of these are important for bone health and can prevent osteoporosis, a condition where bones become weak and brittle. 
Studies have shown that dietary potassium may counterbalance acid load and reduce calcium loss from the bone tissue. This can lead to a beneficial effect on bone mineral density. 

4. Good for the heart 

Benefits of Acorns, heart
Consuming acorns may be good for your heart, as these nuts could potentially reduce the fat content in the body. Oaknuts are an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which, according to the American Heart Association, can help reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels in your blood, and therefore cut down your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Plus, researchers have found that acorn oil has more plant sterols than almonds, soybeans, and olive oil. Plant sterols, known commonly as phytosterols, are an important group of natural compounds that help lower the levels of bad cholesterol.

5. Helpful to people with diabetes

Oaknuts are beneficial for diabetes sufferers, as they can help regulate blood sugar levels. The carbohydrates and fiber in acorns may help prevent glucose spikes. Additionally, the high antioxidant content of acorns and the presence of healthy natural compounds in them help in lowering high blood glucose levels.
Thus, adding acorns to your diet may potentially be great for diabetes management. 

6. Has antiviral properties

Acorns can be useful in fighting antiviral diseases like herpes. Research has shown that the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals in these nuts, along with the considerable amounts of plant compounds, can inhibit the symptoms of the herpes virus in vitro, but it's unknown if those results are also applicable to topical use of acorn oil or the consumption of acorns. The infection that this contagious virus causes can lead to cold sores, but also painful sores and severe itching in the groin and thighs. The infection is more common in women. 

7. Good for the skin

Benefits of Acorns, skin

Another little-known benefit of acorns is that they have astringent properties that help protect the skin. For this, the tannin-rich water extracted from the acorn seeds has to be applied topically to the skin. Just boil the nuts for 15 minutes or soak them overnight in cold water. Then, gently apply the liquid to the skin to ease rashes, burns, and speed up the healing process of wounds and cuts. Research suggests that these nuts can also be effectively used as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. 

8. Rich in antioxidants 

Scientists have found that acorns contain more than 60 different beneficial plant compounds, such as catechins, resveratrol, quercetin, gallic acid, and more. These plant compounds act as powerful antioxidants in our system and can help prevent the body from some types of cell damage. Consuming foods that are rich in these antioxidants has also been associated with a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.

How to Eat Acorns 

Benefits of Acorns,

The easiest way to incorporate acorns in your daily life is through acorn oil, which can be used topically or incorporated into salads and other foods.

Warning! Acorns cannot be eaten raw because they contain high amounts of tannins – a group of bitter and astringent compounds that can cause side effects such as stomach irritation, nausea, and vomiting when consumed in large amounts. 

However, you can get rid of the tannins by boiling the oak nuts in a pot for 15-20 minutes. When the acorns are boiling, the water will turn brown. Discard the brown water and boil the nuts again. Keep repeating the process until water no longer turns brown. 

Once the tannins have been leached out, the acorns are perfectly safe to eat. Here are a few easy you can enjoy them:

* Roast them in the oven at 375°F (190°C) for 15–20 minutes and enjoy a nutritious evening snack. Coat them with honey for added taste.

* You can also grind up dry oak nuts into flour and use them in bread or pastries.

* Add acorns to your favorite stews just like you add potatoes or beans. Their nutty and slightly sweet taste will give amazing depth to the dish.

Acorns, as you might know, come from oak trees, which can be found across North America. The best time to collect acorns is in the early fall. That’s the time when they are just starting to turn from green to brown. While they're not commonly sold in grocery stores, you can easily order them online these days. These delicious and wholesome nuts will certainly make for an exciting addition to your diet.

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