The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Pine Nuts and Pine Nut Oil
Asian Pine Nuts
About Pine Nuts and Trees
In India, pine nuts are called Neja and Chilgoza. Some common English names for pine nuts are pinoli (in Italy), pinon nuts, pignoli (in the U.S.), cedar nuts etc.
Pine nuts are the edible seeds of pine trees.They have been grown for thousands of years. Pine trees takes between 15-25 years of growth before they become mature for fruit bearing. They can reach a height of 75 feet.
Afghanistan is a good source of pine nuts. There are more than 100 species of pine trees and of these about 29 species produce pine nuts that are edible and thus have commercial value.
Some of the major species of pine trees and their cultivated areas, are :
- Korean pine (Pinus koreaiensis) in Northeast Asia.
- Chilgoza pine (Pinus gerardiana) in Western Himalayas.
- Siberian pine ( Pinus sibirica) in Siberia
- Stone pine (Pinus pinea) in Europe.
- Colorado pinyon (Pinus edulis) in North America.
- Mexican pinyon (Pinus cembriodes) in North America.
Pine nuts have seeds that are ivory colored and the shape of the seeds may be thin and long, with thin shells, in some species while in others it may be cone like and thick with thick shells.
Pine nuts are used as a traditional food in many cultures around the world. Pine nuts are eaten raw or toasted, added to vegetarian and meat dishes as well as to salads and baked goods.
A coffee is made from them in Southwest United States especially New Mexico. It is called Pinon and is a dark roast coffee with a deep nutty flavor.
Since pine nuts are high in fats they can go rancid fast and it is therefore better to store them in a cool place preferably in the refrigerator.
Suggestions are to consume 2 tbsp of these nuts daily to derive their full health benefits.
Pine Nuts Nutritional Benefits
- Pine nuts are very high in calories, rich in protein and dietary fiber.
- They are high in the healthy fats, oleic acid, linoleic acid and pinolenic acid. Pinolenic acid releases hormones that suppresses appetite.
- They are free of sodium and contain a good amount of potassium.
- Pine nuts are cholesterol free.
- Extremely high levels of the minerals manganese and copper and are rich source of iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.
- They are rich in Vitamins E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and have good amounts of folate, pyridoxine and pantothenic acid.
- Pine nuts are gluten free and thus can be consumed by those with allergy to wheat or who have celiac disease.
Pine Nuts Nutrition Facts
Pine nuts, raw,
Nutritional value per 100 gms
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Percentage of RDA
Mediterranean Pine Nuts vs Other Types
Mediterranean pine nuts are :
- Lower in calories.
- Have almost 10 times higher content of omega3 to omega 6 ratio.
- Have the highest levels of cholesterol lowering phytosterols among all varieties.
- They are about 2.5 times higher in protein value.
Health Benefits of Pine Nuts
Pine nuts are not only exceptionally rich in nutrients, they have great health benefits as well. Some of the health benefits of pine nuts are :
- They are an excellent aid to lose weight. The pinoleicacid which they contain is a very effective hunger suppressant. It provides a lot of satiety and prevents overeating. Eat pine nuts daily to get this benefit.
- The unsaturated fats contribute to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and healthier circulation and consequently a healthier heart. The risk of heart attack is lowered.
- The high magnesium levels removes fatigue and tiredness, relaxes muscles, eases tension and benefits the heart muscles also.
- The good dietary fiber levels prevent constipation and other digestive issues, prevent risk of cancer, lower diabetes risk and heart problems
- Vitamin K, manganese and phosphorus make the bones strong and dense. In addition manganese eases symptoms of PMS.
- The iron and copper help to combat anemia and increase hemoglobin.
- Vitamin E and other antioxidants counter free radicals and slow down aging
- Lutein and beta carotene help in protecting vision and preventing old afe problems like cataract and macular degeneration.
- The potassium is beneficial in regulating blood pressure.
- The entire fruit is a nutritional powerhouse. You can get most of the necessary nutrients if you consume it daily and eaten in moderation, it is a boon to health.
- The amount of saturated fats is very low.
Pine Nut Oil
Also called cedar nut oil or pine seed oil, it is extracted from the edible seeds of many species of pine trees. Pine nut oil has a delicate flavor and sweet aroma.
The oil from the European and American pine varieties are used for culinary purposes while that from the Siberian and Korean pines is used for medicinal purposes as it contains a high percentage of pinolenic acid.
Pine nut oil is not used during the cooking process as it has a low smoke point but is added to cooked foods for added flavor.
The oil has soothing and anti inflammatory properties. It is also used as a carrier oil in aromatherapy, and in the cosmetic and pharma industries.
Medicinally it is used as appetite suppressant to reduce weight, also reduces cholesterol, treats gastritis, peptic ulcers etc as it controls free radical damage.
Some Points to Note
- Pine nuts are expensive since a lot of labor is needed to harvest the pine nuts from the pine cones. Also, they are grown in large numbers in only a few countries like China, Russia etc while it is grown on a small scale in Italy, Spain and the U.S.
- In some people pine nut consumption may cause a disturbance in taste like the mouth tasting bitter and metallic. There are no side effects other than this. It is believed that this is caused by one particular species of pine, Pinus armandii. This condition resolves of its own and needs no treatment.
- Some people may be allergic to pine nuts though such allergy is much lower as compared to peanuts or other nuts. There may be itching to vomiting and diarrhea to breathing difficulty or more.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
How to Toast Pine Nuts
Pine Nut Cookies (Pinoli Cookies) Recipe
Pine Nut Porridge
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