Most people are familiar with the evergreen pine tree. It grows well in colder climates and is present extensively in Canada and Siberia. The largest can reach up to 75 feet tall. Some species of pine tree, including Pinus Sibirica and Pinus Koraiensis, produce edible pine nuts that provide many health benefits for people who are resourceful enough to try them. Pine nuts can be sold shelled or unshelled in grocery stores and whole food markets. Unshelled nuts have a long shelf life and are often sold in bulk. Stores package shelled nuts in plastic-bags; in warm, moist environments they will spoil quickly.
Pine nuts differ in appearance depending on where they are harvested. Western varieties and Chilgoza (a pine from Pakistan or India) pines have long, thin kernels. Oriental pines have seeds which are large and broad. They are also higher in fat. There are many pine tree species around the world, but only twenty or so have edible nuts.
Pine nuts are high in healthy B-vitamins, including thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, B-6, folates and pantothenic acid. They provide quick, sustained energy throughout the day and can improve a slow metabolism Pine nuts contain minerals that the body needs to fight infection, including more than three times the daily recommended amount of manganese. It also has potassium calcium, magnesium iron, and zinc.
The oil from pine nuts has many uses on its own. Borneol and Bornyl acetate are chemical emollients that make it perfect to treat dry skin. In addition, many homeopathic medical practitioners use pine nut oil as a carrier for tinctures and aromatherapy. Finally, the cosmetic industry uses pine oil as a base for makeup and lotions.
Pine nuts are gluten-free, so those with celiac disease or other condition that requires them to avoid gluten can eat them without worry. You can consume them raw or cooked, or crush them to make a pine nut flour. Many people make cookies and bread from pine nut flour as a healthy alternative to standard white or wheat flour.
The pine nut has an essential fatty acid known as pinolenic acid. This omega-6 fat is known to serve as a natural appetite suppressant by triggering the release of enzymes in the digestive tract. It is also high in fiber, which has been shown by researchers to assist people to manage their weight.
High in monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid, for example), pine nuts can help you manage your cholesterol by lowering the LDL, or bad cholesterol, and raising the good cholesterol, HDL, in your blood. Along with the proper medication, diet, and exercise, pine nuts can keep your heart healthy and help you reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.
Pine nuts are rich and smooth. They can be eaten straight out of the shell or salted, sweetened or roasted to increase the richness. This nut is commonly used as a primary ingredient in cookies or granola and is often sprinkled over salads or used as a topping in ice cream desserts. It is also a good accompaniment to meat dishes.
Consuming pine nuts can often result in unwanted consequences that can deter many from using the tasty nut in the future. Some people experience cacogeusia (pine mouth) after they eat pine nuts. Their sense of taste is temporarily altered, so that other foods taste different than you remember. It goes away a few days after you stop eating pine nuts. In addition, some people experience an allergic reaction from eating pine nuts. A typical reaction includes hives or itchy skin, but it is not unheard of for some to have an anaphylactic reaction resulting in breathing difficulties and abdominal pain and vomiting.
Among its other benefits, the pine nut is full of antioxidants, the veritable fountain of youth for your heart. Not only can you look and feel younger by eating pine nuts, but research has also shown that you can lower your risk of being diagnosed with cancer or other severe health disorders. The pine nut also helps save your eyesight from the effects of aging. These nuts are rich in beta-carotene and lutein, which can help protect your eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration.
The pine nut has a long and cherished history. Greek writers wrote of them as early as 300 BC, and Roman soldiers ate them during battle. Many countries have labeled them as a delicacy because they are only produced among twenty pine tree species. In the U.S. they are typically treated as other nuts, eaten raw, roasted or in sauces. In reality, the pine nut is not a nut at all, but a seed. It is assumed that we call them a nut because they have the nutty flavor and texture we've come to associate with nuts.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.