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The Willamette Valley grows a whopping 99-plus percent of the U.S. hazelnut crop. Oregonians spread hazelnut butter onto bread, infuse beer and liqueurs with the nuts and mix hazelnut flour, ground locally by outfits as large as Bob's Red Mill, into cookies and cakes.

Even our pigs are hazelnut-fed. It's hard to avoid hazelnuts on menus, in grocery stores and at farmers markets here.

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Hazelnuts are heart-healthy. Consuming just 1.5 ounces of hazelnuts per day may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the USDA.

Hazelnuts rank #1 among tree nuts in folate content. This translates into a decreased risk of neural tube birth defects and may help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and depression.

Hazelnuts have the highest proanthocyanidin content of any tree nut. These compounds are known for contributing astringent flavor to foods and may help reduce the risk of blood clotting and urinary tract infections

Hazelnuts provide dietary fiber. An ounce of raw hazelnuts has 2.7 grams of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is a cholesterol-lowering nutrient and may prevent constipation because of its laxative effect, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy adults on a 2,000-calorie diet should aim for at least 28 grams of dietary fiber

Hazelnuts are particularly high in two minerals: manganese and copper. One serving of hazelnuts supplies 65 percent of the Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) for copper and more than 90 percent of the DRI for manganese. Copper is needed for iron absorption and manganese is necessary for bone formation.

Hazelnut Chocolate
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