Pine nuts (also called piñon or pignoli /pinˈyōlē/) are the edible seeds of pines (family Pinaceae, genus Pinus). About 20 species of pine produce seeds large enough to be worth harvesting; in other pines the seeds are also edible, but are too small to be of notable value as a human food.Botanically, pine trees belong to the family of Pinaceae, in the genus: Pinus. Some of the common names are pinon nuts, pignoli, cedar nuts, chilgoza, pinyon pinenuts, etc.
Crunchy yet butter textured, pleasantly sweet and delicious pine nuts are small edible seeds of the female cone in a pine tree. Pine kernels are, indeed, a splendid source of plant derived nutrients, essential minerals, vitamins and “heart friendly” monounsaturated fatty acids that help benefit in reducing cholesterol levels in the blood.
Botanically, pine trees belong to the family of Pinaceae, in the genus: Pinus. Some of the common names are pinon nuts, pignoli, cedar nuts, chilgoza, pinyon pinenuts, etc.
Pine trees grow chiefly in the wild cold and taiga forests of the northern hemisphere, particularly in Siberia and Canada. They are huge, straight erect trees with a large stem which may reach up to 75 feet in height with pyramidal or umbrella-like dense foliage cover.
The “flowers” of pine tree subsequently develop into a cone. The female cones take about two–three years to mature after pollination. At maturity, the female cones (ovulate or seed cones) may reach from as small as 3 cm long to a very large one reaching about 35 cm. Scales at the base and tip of the cone tend to be small and sterile, and therefore, bear no seeds. Once mature and dry, the cone naturally split open to release the kernel.The two prominent pine species known for their large edible kernels include Pinus sibirica and Pinus koraiensis. Western (stone) pines have long slender kernels in comparison to the Oriental pines, in which the seeds are broad, large and have higher fat content.
Pine nuts can be pressed to extract pine nut oil, which is valued for its mild, nutty flavor. One study indicates that Korean pine nut oil may suppress appetite.
Pine nuts feature tough dark-brown outer coat or shell. Inside, its edible kernel has cream white, delicate buttery flavor, and sweet taste.
11 Amazing Benefits
Suppress Your Appetite
Pine nuts contain certain fatty acids that might help curb appetite, as per studies. These fatty acids in pine nuts (especially Korean pine nuts) help release a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK), which is known to suppress appetite. When the study was done on people, it revealed encouraging results.
Another study had found that pine nuts can boost the functioning of appetite suppressants (by up to 60 percent for as long as 4 hours).
The important fatty acid in Korean pine nut oil is pinolenic acid, which, studies say, is a promising satiety ingredient.
Certain specific nutrients in pine nuts, like monounsaturated fat, iron, and protein, can help boost energy levels. They also are a great source of magnesium, and low levels of the nutrient can cause fatigue.
Pine nuts also help build and repair tissues in the body – which might otherwise lead to fatigue. The protein in these seeds also helps burn the fuel more slowly, and this can offer you long-lasting energy without causing a burnout.
Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease
Nuts, in general, are always considered good for the heart. Studies have shown that nut consumption can cut the risk of sudden death by heart attack. The monounsaturated fat, vitamins E and K, magnesium, and manganese form a synergistic blend to prevent cardiovascular disease.
The pinolenic acid in pine nuts supports healthy cholesterol and even helps lower the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). The vitamin K in these seeds helps to form blood clots to prevent bleeding after injury while the vitamin E helps produce red blood cells important for oxygen transport. Consuming tree nuts (like pine nuts) has also been associated with lower blood pressure levels.
Eating pine nuts every day can help control type 2 diabetes, according to studies. The seeds also prevent related complications like vision issues and stroke. Type 2 diabetes patients who had pine nuts every day showed improved glucose control and reduction in bad cholesterol levels.
More interestingly, pine nuts (and other tree nuts) have benefits for both glucose control and blood lipids. They can also be used to increase the intake of vegetable oils and protein in type 2 diabetes patients, and those two are vital to improve the symptoms of the disease without leading to weight gain.
Enhance Brain Health
We already saw pine nuts are rich in iron – one mineral required for storing and transporting oxygen. This helps improve brain health too.
Some reports suggest that pine nuts can also help treat anxiety, depression, and stress. One study proved that dietary intake of magnesium could help improve the condition of adolescents with depression and anxiety disorders. Higher levels of magnesium can lead to lesser emotional outbursts and other behaviors associated with mood disorders.
Cut Cancer Risk
This can be attributed to the magnesium in pine nuts. The mineral has been linked to a lowered risk of various types of cancer. As per one study, a decrease in serum magnesium by 100 milligrams per day can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer risk by 24 percent.
Did you know that vitamin K builds bones better than calcium? Well, that’s what research says. One study talks about how this vitamin can help in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. It not only increases bone mineral density but also reduces fracture rates.
And here’s something quite interesting – one very common reason for the deficiency of vitamin K is the intake of cholesterol-lowering pharmaceuticals. But when you take pine nuts, you wouldn’t need any cholesterol-lowering medication as the nuts, by themselves, can lower cholesterol. And they are rich in vitamin K as well.
Aid Weight Management
This is where we talk about appetite suppression again. We already saw how the pinolenic acid in pine nuts could help suppress appetite. This can also aid weight loss.
The other heart-healthy fatty acids in pine nuts also help burn belly fat. One study states that replacing saturated fats in the diet with pine nuts (and nuts, in general) can help you lose weight without making any additional changes to calorie intake or exercise duration.
The manganese and zinc in pine nuts can do this job very well. While the former helps maintain the body’s hormonal balance and strength of connective tissue, the latter boosts immunity and aids wound healing.
As per one report, additional zinc in the diet can help boost the immune system in older adults . Zinc is associated with an improvement in the function and number of T-cells, which are a type of white blood cells that destroy invading pathogens.
Improve Vision Health
Pine nuts contain a lot of lutein, which is an antioxidant also known as the eye vitamin. Several surveys have revealed that most Americans taking the Standard American Diet don’t take adequate amounts of lutein.
There are about 600 carotenoids your body can utilize, of which only about 20 are transported to your eyes. Of these, only two are deposited in your eyes in large amounts. One is lutein, and the other is zeaxanthin. Both these nutrients help prevent macular degeneration and glaucoma by fighting free radical damage.
Enhance Skin And Hair Health
High concentration of various essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants make pine nuts amazingly helpful for skin care. Vitamin E and antioxidants work to hold back the aging process. And thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, pine nut oil is very suitable for sensitive skin types. It nourishes the skin and protects it from various common conditions. Moreover, it also has great moisturizing effects on the skin.
Pine nut oil is well known for massage therapy because of its healing property. It helps to reduce a number of skin issues like itching, psoriasis, pimples, eczema, scabies, and sores. These nuts give the skin a revitalized and fresh look.
A body scrub created with raw pine nuts and coconut oil revives the skin by sloughing off dead skin cells. Moreover, due to its excellent hydrating and moisturizing properties, it is a recognized remedy for relieving dehydrated skin.
Pine nuts are a rich source of vitamin E, a vitamin known for boosting hair growth. Moreover, it also keeps the scalp in good condition. People suffering from hair loss or hair thinning have found pine nut oil to be extremely helpful in combating the condition.
These edible nuts contain a high concentration of proteins. The protein content in the nuts protects the hair against damage and keeps it strong, healthy, and lustrous.
These are the health benefits of pine nuts. But now, we have an important question to address.