The Health Benefits of Pine Nuts

April 1, 2008

pine nuts

Brief History of Pine Nuts

Pine nuts are a high protein nut that come from pine cones that grow on pine trees. The pine family of trees produce both male and female pine cones, although nuts are only found in fertilized female cones. Harvesting of the nuts can be a fairly labor-intensive task since the cones need to be heated to help dislodge the nuts.  This is why pine nuts are generally more expensive than other nuts.

There are well over a hundred varieties of pine, yet less then a handful produce seeds that are useful (many are too small). The main varieties of the pine nut are the Pinus pin, a Mediterranean stone pine, Pinus edulis, a pine that grows in southwest US and Pinus cembroides, a Mexican nut pine.

The seeds themselves although they fall under the same umbrella of pine nut, are also known as piñon, pignoli and pignolia.
Chinese varieties are known for their strong flavor, while European types have higher levels of protein. Their size can vary from about 1 – 5cm in length, with over a hundred seeds coming from one cone.

Pine nuts have been used for culinary purposes around the world for centuries. In ancient Greece they were thought to possess aphrodisiac qualities and preserved in honey; and Hopi and Navajo tribes have been recorded as using them as source of protein. They either ate them dried or ground the nuts into a course powder then mixed the paste with water to make porridge.

Nutrients in Pine Nuts

Along with high protein and fat levels, pine nuts are also filled with amino acids, making them a great source of nutrition. Pignoli (European pine nuts ) and pifiions (American) are an excellent source of vitamins B1 and B3, manganese, copper, magnesium, molybdenum. They are a very good source of zinc. They are a good source of vitamin B2, vitamin E, and potassium. Pifions are a better source of vitamin B1, and pignoli a better source of iron.

Nuts, pine nuts, dried Nutritional value per
100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 673 kcal (2816 kJ)
* Carbohydrates 13.08 g
Dietary fiber 3.7 g
* Fat 68.37 g
* Protein 13.69 g
* Vitamin A 29 IU
– lutein and zeaxanthin 9 mcg
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.364 mg
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.227 mg
Niacin (Vit. B3) 4.387 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.313 mg
* Vitamin B6 0.094 mg
* Folate (Vit. B9) 34 mcg
* Vitamin C 0.8 mg
Vitamin E 9.33 mg
* Calcium 16 mg
* Iron 5.53 mg
* Magnesium 251 mg
Phosphorus 575 mg
Potassium 597 mg
Zinc 6.45 mg
Manganese 8.802 mg
A comprehensive breakdown of nutrients can be found in the Nutrition Database where this food can also be added to a meal planner.

Pine Nuts for Cholesterol Reduction

Consumption of pine nut oil (and in some cases as much as 17g daily) has been shown to help reduce cholesterol. Further it can help combat high blood pressure by normalizing the lipid spectrum of blood.

The Department of Agricultural Chemistry at the College of Life & Environmental Sciences at Korea University has undertaken considerable research to show that pine nut oil can help reduce cholesterol. Pine nut oil contains pinolenic acid, which affects the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor activity of human hepatoma HepG2 cells. Essentially, pinolenic acid stimulates hepatic LDL uptake, which in turn lowers cholesterol levels in the body.

Pine Nuts for Weight Loss

At the University of Liverpool the School of Psychology undertook a study to find out about the effects pine nuts have on appetite. Results showed that pine nuts contain two important chemicals, endogenous cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that once consumed, contribute to individuals feeling satiated – and not wanting to eat further.

A further study in the Netherlands supports these findings, concluding that Korean pine nuts in particular, can work as ‘an appetite suppressant through an increasing effect on satiety hormones and a reduced prospective food intake’.

Oil has been extracted from the pine nuts and used as a dietary supplement which can help suppress the appetite.

Pine Nuts for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Pine nuts don’t just have high levels of monounsaturated fat and arginine, they also contain high levels of magnesium and potassium, and these four ingredients can assist in preventing heart disease.

Adverse Reactions from Pine Nuts

Allergy provoking proteins are present in pine nuts and individuals allergic to peanuts and other nuts are advised to avoid pine nuts.

1. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
2. Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology.
3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
4. Hughes GM, Boyland EJ, Williams NJ, Mennen L, Scott C, Kirkham TC, Harrold JA, Keizer HG, Halford JC. The effect of Korean pine nut oil (PinnoThin) on food intake, feeding behaviour and appetite: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Lipids Health Dis. 2008 Feb 28;7:6. PMID: 18307772.
5. Pasman WJ, Heimerikx J, Rubingh CM, van den Berg R, O’Shea M, Gambelli L, Hendriks HF, Einerhand AW, Scott C, Keizer HG, Mennen LI. The effect of Korean pine nut oil on in vitro CCK release, on appetite sensations and on gut hormones in post-menopausal overweight women. Lipids Health Dis. 2008 Mar 20;7:10. PMID: 18355411.
6. Bakhtin IuV, Budaeva VV, Vereshchagin AL, Egorova EIu, Zhukova EIu, Saratikov AS. [Efficiency of Siberian pine oil in complex treating of people ill with benign hypertension] Vopr Pitan. 2006;75(1):51-3. PMID: 16739609.
7. Lee JW, Lee KW, Lee SW, Kim IH, Rhee C. Selective increase in pinolenic acid (all-cis-5,9,12-18:3) in Korean pine nut oil by crystallization and its effect on LDL-receptor activity. Lipids. 2004 Apr;39(4):383-7. PMID: 15357026.

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  3. Abdul Rashid

    May 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    I read the benefit about Pine Nut. Thankyou Abdul

  4. BF

    June 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Avoid the small pine nuts (usually coming from China) as lots of people “develop pine mouth”, a long lasting strong metallic taste that can last more than a week from eating them.

    Much research has been done to try and find the reason for this, but nothing has been found to be amiss with the nuts tested. It appears the the European (larger) pine nut do not produce “pine mouth” (google it for more info).

    • Jay

      July 4, 2011 at 6:21 am

      Where can I get European pine nuts? Trader Joes? Whole foods?


    • luna

      September 22, 2011 at 10:54 am

      I have had this “pine mouth” several times which lasted for days sometimes weeks. I was contemplating whether to go to the doctors or not, seeing how it was frequent and I could have had serious metal poisoning . I then realized while looking up health benefits of the pine nut,( since i eat them everyday for protein) that is how I had acquired this nasty altered sense of taste. It is very unpleasant and all of your food taste the same; bitter and metallic; it can last for quite some time. For me the taste lasted a few days or sometimes weeks and no matter how many times I brushed my tongue, it was still there. Now knowing this bit of information about where the nuts come from, I highly advise others to avoid nuts imported from China and Korea, as the pine nuts growing in these countries may give you “pine mouth”.

    • Deborah

      May 7, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      Well I have been eating the ones from China with no problems such as you mentioned.
      Just a thought,do you have silver fillings in your mouth?are you on medications??or you could have a high acidity in your body,may need to alkline this.
      Just suggesting this to you as I have had no issues with the pine nuts from china.
      But I also have a balnced acidty and diet with no metals in my mouth.
      So you may want to look at this.Yours truley a Friend.

  5. Pingback: Pine Nut Oil

  6. Kamren

    September 4, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    I’ve recently become a vegetarian and have found toasted pine nuts to be a great substitute for meat. I really like pine nuts, but wife prefers deez nuts.

  7. kiram

    February 24, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Nuts good to eat

  8. sudha

    July 6, 2012 at 6:02 am

    been erating a small portion twice a day. is it ok

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