Pine nuts have a unique taste and are loaded with nutrients. This article offers a detailed perspective on amazing health benefits of pine nuts and its nutritional value.
Like most other nuts, pine nuts are a healthy snack. In actuality, pine nuts are not nuts… but rather edible seeds of pine trees. Only 20% of pine species produce large seeds that are worth harvesting, the other species produce pine nuts which are extremely tiny and are too small to create value as a human food or snack. Pine species are found in abundance in Europe. Pines are widely harvested in places with a Mediterranean climate. Some of the edible pine species are listed below.
Old World Cultivars
New World Cultivars
Pine nuts are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Depending on the species/variety, pine nuts contain approximately 10-34% protein. Stone pine also called ‘umbrella pine’ or the ‘Italian stone pine’ has the highest protein content. Pine nuts are a rich source of dietary fiber which is why they are recommended by dieticians and nutritionists in diet plans. Research reveals pine nuts have been eaten in prehistoric times in the Paleolithic period.
Ideally, pine nuts must be eaten soon after they are shelled. Due to high oil content in pine seeds they are prone to rancidity, and so, if you intend to preserve pine seeds for a long period, it best to keep them in the fridge. Pine nuts that are unshelled have a long shelf life if kept dry and refrigerated. Pine nuts coming from Europe are bigger and longer than the ones found in Asia. Pine nuts are a delicacy and always in demand in different parts of the world. Pine nuts have an over 100 million market in the US. Some of the costliest pine seeds come from different parts of Europe. Pine nuts can be eaten raw or roasted, either way they taste delicious. Pine nuts are used in many vegetarian and non vegetarian recipes. Pine nuts also lend a delicious flavor when added to salads. Since these seeds have a crunchy texture, many chefs use pine nuts as toppings in gourmet dishes. Pine nuts offer a diverse range of health benefits.
1. Minimizes the risk of Heart Diseases
Pine nuts have a complex blend of compounds that play a pivotal role in promoting good cardiovascular health. Pinolenic acid present in pine nuts promotes healthy levels of cholesterol. The combination of minerals, vitamins and monounsaturated fats act as natural cleansers keeping heart disease at bay. Pine nuts have a high content of monounsaturated fat that has the ability to lower blood cholesterol levels and protect arteries from damage.
2. Excellent Energy Booster
Pine nuts are an excellent source of protein and energy. Having a 50 g serving of pine nuts with black raisins give you instant energy. You feel revitalized after you have a pine nut snack. Truly, slightly roasted pine nuts with a few black raisins feels like divine intervention.
3. Slows Down Ageing
Pine nuts are a rich source of antioxidants. The presence of lutein, and Vitamins A,B,C,D, and E in pine nuts play an important role in combating harmful free radicals that contribute in a big way towards early ageing. Eating pine nuts regularly ensure that your immune system gets stronger with antioxidant activity thereby helping fight free radicals. Antioxidants play a vital role in holding back the aging process.
4. Improves Skin Health
The complex combination of minerals and vitamins present in pine nuts repair damaged skin cells and gives skin a firm texture preventing wrinkles and sagging. Furthermore, pine nut oil is used in many body creams because of its ability to nourish and moisturize skin. In many homemade facial masks and body masks it is wise to add a little pine nut oil for skin nourishment.
5. Improves Eye health
Eating pine nuts regularly minimizes the risk of age related macular degeneration related to eyes. A carotenoid, lutein present in pine nuts is known to fight harmful free radicals that impact macular regions in the eye. Consuming pine nuts on a regular basis minimizes the risk of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration)
6. Boosts hair Growth and Strengthens hair
Eating pine nuts regularly boosts hair growth and also strengthens hair from its roots. Pine nuts are a rich source of vitamin E that plays a vital role in promoting hair growth. Eating pine nuts also combats hair thinning by strengthening hair roots. Applying a little pine nut oil mixed with coconut oil helps thinning hair conditions immensely.
7. Makes a perfect Weight Loss Snack
If you are looking to lose weight include pine nuts in your diet. High amounts of cholecystokinin (CCK) released through fatty acids in pine nuts play a pivotal role in suppressing appetite. Pine nuts contain pinoleic acid which makes you feel fuller fast as you eat and thereby aids in weight loss. Research reveals consuming 3 g of pinolenic acid through nut sources before breakfast slows food absorption in the gut and decreases intake of food by more than 38%.
8. Ensures Good Bone Health
Eating pine nuts regularly contributes towards good bone health. Pine nuts are a rich source of calcium and minerals. Both these minerals play an important role in good bone health. Including pine nuts in your diet does a lot good to bone health.
Culinary Uses of Pine Nuts
Pine nuts are used in a variety of cuisine. They are an integral ingredient in pesto. Pine nuts can be roasted or eaten raw. These seeds are also used as garnish to prepare a variety of salads. Pine nuts are loaded with nutrition and have a crunchy flavor which is why they are used as toppings on different types of food. Pine nuts taste delicious in stir fry and sautéed recipes. Pine nuts can be had with a little piece of jaggery, it makes a good health snack. The combination of the sweetness of jaggery and the nutty texture of pine nuts is poetic in every sense. Pine nut flour is also used to make a variety of breads; however, breads made from pine nut flour are more expensive than breads made from wheat-flour dough.
Nutritional Value of Pine Nuts (Shelled-Dried) (Nutritional Value Per 100 grams)
Energy- 2.815 kj
Fat- 68.4 g
Protein- 13.7 g
Calories- 673 kcal
Other Constituents (Water- 2.3 g)
(Nutritional Value Source: USDA Nutrition Database)
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