Pine nuts are not botanically referred to as nuts, but as seeds, since they are the seedlings of pinecones. Pine nuts are actually one of the higher fat nuts, and are often used in rich foods such as pesto. But don't let their small size fool you -- pine nuts are very nutrient dense, and full of vitamins A, C and D.
Health Benefits of Pine Nuts
A single serving of the lowly pine nut can provide you with up to fourteen grams
of protein per serving, depending upon the species. Pine nuts are anywhere from
ten to thirty-four percent protein. They’re also an excellent source of fiber as
well as vitamins E, K, and niacin. In terms of minerals, they’re an excellent
source of magnesium and potassium which is important for maintaining a healthy
heart and blood pressure.
Curb your appetite
It may surprise you to learn that pine nuts can be a potent appetite suppressor.
Why? They’re a good source of a polyunsaturated fat known as pinolenic acid.
When you eat a handful of pine nuts, the pinolenic acid stimulates the secretion
of a hormone produced by the intestines known as CCK. CCK sends the signal to
your brain that you’re full which turns off your appetite. It also helps to slow
down the rate at which your stomach empties so you feel full and satisfied
longer. Who would have dreamed these tiny seeds from the pinecone could zap your
Pine nuts are high in monounsaturated fats, the same “heart healthy” fats that
make nuts and olive oil so beneficial. These fats have not only been shown to
reduce blood cholesterol levels but also help to protect the arteries from
damage which can lead to a heart attack. Because of their high content, they can
go rancid quickly when you buy them already shelled. Their shelf life can be
prolonged by refrigeration.
Pine nuts are also high in antioxidants which help to protect the cells of your
body from free radical damage. Pine nut oil can also be bought at some natural
food markets to help you deliver even more antioxidant power to your salads.