According to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, the acorn is the fruit of the holm oak, the oak and other trees of the same genus such as the cork oak. Its fruit, considered an aquenium, is usually large in volume, oval in shape, slightly pointed and usually does not exceed 2-3 centimetres in length. The acorns, highly valued by squirrels in nature, are composed of a hard, light brown shell that keeps a single seed inside.
Properties of acorns
Before talking about the nutritional properties of acorns, we must bear in mind that at present, this is not a nut that is commonly included in our diet; however, we know that in the past this fruit was a very common ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. Nowadays acorns are used to make some types of flour, liqueurs and of course, to feed Iberian pigs.
Acorn contains 30% water and 52% carbohydrates, providing approximately 9% fibre, 5% protein and 8% lipids, making it a very low-fat food. They are also high in calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Among the medicinal properties attributed to acorns, there are studies that state that their consumption prevents and helps reduce diseases such as rheumatism and regulate blood sugar levels. It also helps to heal wounds thanks to its tannins and is used in cosmetics, especially in the manufacture of products to remove excess fat.
But if we do not consume acorns normally…how can we take advantage of all these benefits? Well, the best way is through the consumption of acorn-fed Iberian ham (Bellota ham). The Iberian pigs fed with acorns (bellotas) are destined to produce ham and sausages of the same name Bellota. These fruits plus all the exercise that the pigs do during the Montanera season is what makes their meat be full of oleic acid. Oleic acid is a type of fat that produces beneficial effects for cholesterol, helping to reduce the rate of “bad” cholesterol and enhancing the creation of beneficial cholesterol, this is what is known as good fat and also found in the virgin olive oil.