Can You Eat Acorns?

Acorns can be found in abundance all over the world on oak trees. These nuts are full of nutrients, which is why they used to be a part of many cuisines. However, they have been losing popularity lately.

A big question surrounding acorns is whether they are safe to eat or not. The good news – they are! However, there are some things you should know before eating them.

Acorns contain tannins, which are an antinutrient that is bitter in taste. Antinutrient is a term used to refer to any compound which interferes with your body’s ability to properly absorb nutrients.

Not only do tannins reduce your ability to absorb all the other amazing nutrients contained in acorns, but they can also have a negative impact on your health. Consuming high amounts of tannins can lead to severe liver damage and cancer (1).

Luckily, there is an easy way for you to remove the tannins from your acorns so you can enjoy this yummy snack. All you have to do is either boil your acorns or soak them in water before eating them. This leaches all the tannins out of the nuts (2).

You may be thinking – why even eat acorns and risk consuming tannins? Well, the risk of consuming tannins is almost non-existent if the acorns are appropriately prepared. Additionally, acorns are so chock-full of ingredients that it would be a shame to miss out on.

Acorns are a great way to satisfy your daily mineral intake. They are high in several essential nutrients such as potassium, iron, zinc and magnesium. They’re also a good source of antioxidants like Vitamins A and E (3).

The best part about acorns is that they are extremely low in calories – one ounce of dried acorns is only 144 calories. From this single ounce, you’ll be able to get enough Vitamin A to satisfy 44% of the reference daily intake (RDI), enough Vitamin E for 20% of the RDI, as well as a healthy dose of Vitamin B6 and folate (3).

 So, what can all these nutrients do for you?

Due to its high fibre content, acorns nourish your gut bacteria to keep your digestive system healthy (4). An imbalance of gut bacteria can lead to obesity, diabetes and bowel diseases so it’s important to ensure your gut bacteria is happy and healthy. 

All the antioxidants in acorns can also improve your health. They defend your body against harmful free radicals and have been linked with preventing chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer (5).

Clearly, eating acorns can have a substantially positive impact on your body’s health. Just be sure to sidestep the risks involved by boiling your acorns before consumption to get rid of all the tannins. Also, if you have a tree nut allergy, you may experience an allergic response when eating acorns. 

Otherwise, acorns are a great snack to have!

References:

1. Chung, K., Wei, C., & Johnson, M. (1998). Are tannins a double-edged sword in biology and health?. Trends In Food Science & Technology, 9(4), 168-175. doi: 10.1016/s0924-2244(98)00028-4

2.     Papoti, V. T., Kizaki, N., Skaltsi, A., Karayannakidis, P. D., & Papageorgiou, M. (2017). The phytochemical rich potential of acorn (Quercus aegilops) products and by products. Food science and biotechnology, 27(3), 819–828. doi:10.1007/s10068-017-0293-x

3.     Li, S., Zhou, Y., Liu, M., Zhang, Y., & Cao, S. (2015). Nutrient composition and starch characteristics of Quercus glandulifera Bl. seeds from China. Food Chemistry, 185, 371-376. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.03.147

4. Holscher H. D. (2017). Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota. Gut microbes, 8(2), 172–184. doi:10.1080/19490976.2017.1290756

5. Pandey, K. B., & Rizvi, S. I. (2009). Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2(5), 270–278. doi:10.4161/oxim.2.5.9498