Pine Nuts: Benefits, Nutrition, Downsides and Recipes

Pine nuts are the most loved buttery treats of the winter season with the goodness of heart-friendly fats and minerals. Pine nuts are also called pignolia or pignoli nuts. Despite the name, pine nuts are seeds. Hence, you can call them either nuts or seeds. Pine nuts come with a hefty price tag due to their labour-intensive harvesting process and slow ripening time. They’re expensive enough to be called the caviar of nuts.

Pine nuts are not as common as other nuts, but their demand is still high in multiple industries, including oil, beverages, confectionery, and bakery. These creamy nuts are native to China, Pakistan, North Korea, and Russia. Pine nuts require about a year and a half to ripen, but under unfavourable conditions, it may take double that time. Harvesters separate the nuts or seeds from the pine cone by hand. After lengthy shelling labour, you get these gluten-free and delicious nuts.

Unless you’re allergic, pine nuts can be a healthy addition to your diet. Apart from a nutty flavour, they also offer several benefits. For example, they boost energy, suppress your appetite, control blood glucose, and improve vision health. And thanks to its vitamin E and antioxidant properties, pine nuts can nourish and moisturise the skin.

Nutritional Value of Pine Nuts

100 grams of pine nuts contain the following nutrients.

  • Calories: 673 Kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 13.1 g
  • Mono-unsaturated fat: 18.7 g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 34.1 g
  • Total Fats: 68.4 g
  • Protein: 13.7 g
  • Vitamin E: 9.33 mg
  • Niacin: 4.387 mg
  • Potassium: 597 mg
  • Phosphorus: 575 mg
  • Magnesium: 251 mg
  • Calcium: 16 mg
  • Zinc: 6.45 mg
  • Iron: 5.53 mg

Health Benefits of Pine Nuts

1. Healthy Weight Loss and Weight Management

The million-dollar question would be, do these buttery nuts help with weight loss? Oh Yes! Pine nuts effectively curb the appetite, thus contributing to weight loss. They provide a healthy combination of fats, fibre, and protein which stimulates a feeling of satiety. A study shows that the fatty acids in pine nuts aid in weight management. Their appetite suppressing property decreases the rate of food intake by 37%. It is because the pinolenic acid, found in pine nuts, makes your brain believe that the stomach is full.

Munching on pine nuts as an evening snack or an all-day snack provides you with long-lasting energy. This energy mainly comes from its protein content. You can exercise more to lose those extra pounds when you increase your energy levels. However, despite their calories, pine nut intake shows no increase in body weight. Also, only pine nuts cannot help manage healthy body weight. Your sleep habits, physical activity level, and general food intake volume also play a salient role in weight management.

2. Glycemic Control

Pine nuts are rich in phenolic compounds that improve blood glucose control. In addition, unsaturated fats in pine nuts have beneficial effects on fasting blood glucose levels. Finally, a study shows that the mineral manganese from these little nuts lowers the risk of diabetes.

You may eat pine nuts five days a week. Two tablespoons of pine nuts in a daily serving are sufficient for diabetes symptom management. In addition, it helps maintain normal fasting blood glucose levels without worrying about excessive weight gain.

3. Pine Nuts Boosts Brain Health

Studies ascertain that omega-3 fatty acids support brain health by slowing down cognitive decline. They reduce depressive symptoms and dementia risks. Pine nuts are a great source of brain-boosting Omega-3s. Thus, pine nuts stand essential for elderly adults to prevent age-related dementia. Furthermore, pine nuts nourish you with iron, which stores and transports oxygen into the blood, keeping the brain healthy.

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4. Improves Heart Health

High blood cholesterol levels or the infamous low-density lipoproteins (LDL) increase heart disease risk. High LDL triggers plaque buildup and artery constriction, leading to stroke or heart attack. However, pine nut oil is rich in a polyunsaturated fatty acid called pinolenic acid. Studies suggest that it may lower LDL in the body by increasing the impaired cholesterol metabolism in the liver.

Consuming three servings of pine nuts every week supports heart health. As pine nuts provide a substantial vitamin E, magnesium, and monounsaturated fats, they lower cholesterol levels. Supplementing pine nuts with a balanced diet may benefit the heart.

5. Rich in Magnesium

Pine nuts are a good source of mood-enhancing minerals, popularly known as magnesium. As the name suggests, magnesium stabilises the mood, improves sleep, and calms the body. 1 oz i.e. 28.4 g of pine nuts contains 71.2 grams of magnesium, making it the real deal for treating magnesium deficiency. Munching on these nuts can be just as important for adolescents and younger adults to the older side of the population as well.

Magnesium helps decrease depression, stress, and anxiety. Since magnesium is prevalent in pine nuts, consistent intake of these vital nuts may improve anxiety disorders and depression among adolescents.

6. Pine Nuts are Great for Eyesight

The beta-carotene and antioxidants in pine nuts boost eye health. In addition, these nuts are full of vitamin A and lutein, which support sharp vision development. Lutein in pine nuts favours eye health by filtering UV light and preventing muscular damage. Since your body does not produce lutein on its own, it’s mainly derived from the food you eat. Therefore, consuming pine nuts ensures a consistent supply of lutein.

Secondly, the antioxidants fight cellular degeneration, possibly preventing eyesight deterioration. Finally, the plant pigments in pine nuts have exceptional antioxidant properties that fight off free radicals for improving vision.

7. Supports Bone Health

Did you know that vitamin K builds and strengthens bones better than calcium? It’s true. You might be having a calcium-rich diet but missing out on the required vitamin K levels puts you at risk of bone weakness, fractures, and osteoporosis. Pine nuts are double-protective for bone health. They’re rich in both calcium and vitamin K. Pine nuts are one of the only two tree nuts with an extraordinary level of vitamin K. If you’re curious about the other one, it’s cashews.

Ways to Add Pine Nuts to Your Diet

Any recipe that calls for nuts is perfectly suitable for pine nuts. You can add them to smoothie bowls, salads, granola, and baked goods. In addition, you can blend pine nuts into dips, sauces, or soups. This particular addition gives a nutritional boost to your meals, providing a crunchy texture and buttery flavour.

Toast the pine nuts for a deeper nutty-flavoured snack. Make sure to keep a medium-low heat to get golden-brown pine nuts. While toasting enhances their flavour, burned pine nuts are unpleasantly bitter. Most food recipes ask you to toast the pine nuts. Take it one step ahead by sprinkling some pine nuts on ice creams, sundaes, and yoghurts. You may even use pine nut oil in cooking, but it’s pretty rare.

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Healthy Recipes Using Pine Nuts

1. Pesto Sauce

Pine Nuts: Benefits, Nutrition, and Everything You Want to Know- HealthifyMe

This classic Italian sauce is perhaps one of the famous pine nut recipes. Home-made pesto sauce enriched with pine nuts is healthier and tastier than store-bought.

  • Serves: 1 cup sauce
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • Pine nuts (toasted): 1/3 cup
  • Basil leaves: 2 cups
  • Parmesan cheese (grated): 1/4 cup
  • Lemon juice: 1 tablespoon
  • Garlic cloves (roughly chopped): 2
  • Fine salt: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Extra virgin olive oil: 1/3 cup

Method 

  • Blend the toasted pine nuts, basil leaves, Parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
  • Add more Parmesan if you prefer creamier pesto. You can add salt as per the bitterness of the basil leaves.
  • You can refrigerate leftover pesto for up to one week.

2. Yoghurt Parfait

Pine Nuts: Benefits, Nutrition, and Everything You Want to Know- HealthifyMe

This quick and easy yoghurt parfait recipe with pomegranate, spices, & pine nuts is sure to be a new healthy favourite at your house.

  • Serves: 1
  • Preparation time: 5 mins

Ingredients

  • Plain Greek Yoghurt: 1 cup
  • Chopped Banana: ½ cup
  • Pomegranate: ¼ cup
  • Pine Nuts: 2tbsp
  • Cinnamon: ¼ tsp
  • Honey or Maple Syrup: 1tsp

Method

  • Place yoghurt in a bowl.
  • Top with chopped banana, pomegranate, pine nuts, spices, and sweetener of choice.

Potential Downsides of Pine Nuts

Allergies

Like all types of nuts, pine nuts may also cause allergic reactions. If you’re allergic to other tree nuts, pine nuts can be harmful to you. A particular study has noted that some people experienced anaphylactic reactions after eating pine nuts. It is a severe, aggravated, potentially life-threatening immune system response. The allergy symptoms may include the following:

  • Wheezing
  • Recurrent vomiting
  • Swelling of throat, nose, and lips
  • Itching in the mouth
  • Hives
  • Tightness in the chest

Please be careful while selecting packed foods if a nut allergy is suspected. Remember that the food claim “nut-free” may not necessarily indicate the absence of pine nuts. You will not see pine nuts highlighted in the ingredient list of pre-packed food. Don’t be surprised if you find pine nuts in packets of mixed seeds. Always make informed consumer choices.

Pine Mouth

Pine mouth or pine nut syndrome is a temporary reaction that affects some pine nut eaters. It has an intense metallic taste in your mouth that can last anywhere from two days to two weeks. However, this taste disturbance does not happen to all people who eat pine nuts.

There’s no known treatment or clear underlying cause for this bitter, metallic after-taste. Discontinue eating pine nuts until the symptoms subside. The bad news is that the taste worsens by consuming any other food or beverage during the pine mouth period.

Conclusion

Pine nuts are rich in amino acids, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, antioxidants, and zinc. When it comes to versatility, you can use pine nuts for anything and everything. They’re also a great gluten-free option. Although pine nuts are expensive, their valuable list of nutrients makes them a worthy addition to your diet. While allergies and pine mouth are unfamiliar, avoid pine nuts if you’re sensitive or allergic to tree nuts.

From a health angle, pine nuts keep the heart healthy, enrich you with mood-stabilising magnesium, control blood sugar, and boost vision. Also, these nuts suppress your appetite, preventing you from consuming extra calories, which leads to weight gain. Pine nuts can be a good choice for those on a weight loss journey. If you want a first-hand experience of the goodness and benefits of pine nuts, go ahead and try them today!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the benefits of eating pine nuts?

A. Pine nuts are full of rich nutrients like magnesium, zinc, iron, antioxidants, and proteins. These nutrients are good for heart health, brain health, and managing weight and diabetes. Pine nuts also help to maintain good eyesight.

2. How many pine nuts should you eat a day?

A. Pine nuts contain omega3s and antioxidants. Research suggests taking two tablespoons of pine nuts per day, approximately 30 grams. You can serve pine nuts with different dishes and use them as a topping in dishes. However, eating too many pine nuts can leave a bitter metallic taste in the mouth.

3. What happens if you eat too much pine nuts?

A. Eating too many pine nuts can leave a bitter metallic taste in the mouth for a few days or even two weeks. Rarely do people also experience taste disturbance. It is known as pine nut syndrome. You may also experience nausea, headache, or vomiting.

4. Which are healthier, pine nuts or walnuts?

A. Both pine nuts and walnuts have a similar number of calories, proteins, and fibres. They also have a nearly similar amount of iron, potassium, and protein in an equal serving. However, pine nuts are a great source of niacin and vitamin E. While walnuts are rich in calcium, vitamin B6 and folate.

5. Are pine nuts inflammatory?

A. Pine nuts are a great source of nutrients when consumed moderately. However, eating them in excess can worsen medical conditions like arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease. In addition, pine nuts contain omega-6 fatty acids in the form of linoleic acid, which aggravates inflammation.

6. Are pine nuts good for your hair?

A. Yes, pine nuts are rich in proteins that prevent hair damage. It also helps to tackle hair fall problems. Pine nuts also contain vitamin E that boosts hair growth.

7. Are pine nuts good for high blood pressure?

A. Yes, pine nuts are a source of an amino acid called ‘arginine’, which has antioxidant properties. As a result, it helps lower high blood pressure in individuals with hypertension.

8. Are pine nuts Keto?

A. Pine nuts are low in carbs but high in fats. So, you can consume it during a keto diet. However, enjoy them in low amounts and eat them moderately each day.

9. Are pine nuts a diuretic?

A. Yes. Pine nuts are edible and have economic importance and several traditional uses. For example, you can use it for its diuretic, antiseptic, expectorant, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antihypertensive, and antineuralgic properties.

10. Are pine seeds edible?

A. Yes. Pine seeds are edible and one of the healthiest nuts. Pine seeds add taste to many dishes and are very nutritious. They also help in weight loss.

11. Can I eat pine nuts while pregnant?

A. Yes, you can consume the ideal amount of pine nuts, i.e., 90g per week in the first three months of pregnancy. It is perfect for the baby’s health. Pine nuts are rich in healthy fatty acids, which helps the baby’s overall development.

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