Hazelnut (Turkish: Findik) These delicious nuts have been a valuable source of nourishment since ancient times, and modern dieticians recognize their important role in a balanced diet. If an ideal food were to be invented, it would probably be very like the hazelnut. The benefits encapsulated in this small nut are enormous. It contains numerous minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and potassium, and a handful of hazelnuts (equivalent to 25-30 g) provide the body's entire daily vitamin E requirement. Hazelnuts are also good for the heart, since the oil consists of 83 percent oleic acid (unsaturated acid), which prevents high cholesterol levels in the blood, adjusts blood sugar, and so protects against cardiovascular diseases. Moreover hazelnuts are rich in fiber, adjust blood pressure and strengthen the bones, while the high levels of B group vitamins (B1, B2 and above all B6) that they contain adjust the body's carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism and strengthen the nervous system.
Hazelnuts grow on fifteen species of bushes or trees belonging to the genus Corylus of the beech family, and are thought to be native to the Black Sea coast, Thrace and Macedonia. The hazelnut was introduced into Central Europe in 1582 when the plant was taken to Austria from Istanbul, and this species therefore became known as the Turkish hazelnut, which can grow to a height of 22 meters. Turkey is the world's largest hazelnut producer, accounting for 75 percent of total production. The country’s finest hazelnuts come from the province of Giresun on the Black Sea, and the finest of Giresun's hazelnuts grow in Karakaya in the district of Tirebolu. These hazelnut groves produce plump oily nuts with thin shells. Another esteemed variety is the Degirmendere hazelnut, which is longer and less oily, and mainly eaten fresh. As well as being eaten as a snack, hazelnuts are widely used in bakery and confectionery, and in the manufacture of hazelnut oil, which is used in the pharmaceutical and perfume industries.
Hazelnut oil is also a healthy and delicious cooking oil, the cold-pressed variety being preferred for its flavor in salads, biscuits and cakes. Hazelnuts also enhance the taste of soups, salads and hot dishes.
Reference: Hazelnut Promotion Board Archive.
Some selected examples (please click on pictures to enlarge):