Health Benefits of Pine Nuts

Renée Naturally Qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist & Western Medical Herbalist

Firstly, pine ‘nuts’ are not actually nuts but are in fact the edible seeds from about 20 different species of pine cones. Technicalities aside, for Ancient Greeks and Romans, pine nuts were believed to be an aphrodisiac. They’ve certainly secured their spot in some of the most loved cuisines in history (pesto pasta anyone?) and the news to really go nuts about, is that these tiny seeds are bursting with health benefits too. Don’t let their small size fool you – pine nuts hit the mark in the nutrition stakes…


  1. Weight Management: Even though they are high in fat, eating pine nuts (in moderation!) on a regular basis can assist your weight loss efforts. This is because they contain pinolenic acid, which recent research has found to be an effective appetite suppressant. Pinolenic acid triggers hunger suppressant hormones in the gut – just don’t rely on this theory when presented with that perfect pesto pasta…


  1. Cardiovascular Support: Consuming pine nuts can also contribute to a healthy heart. They are an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids. A healthy intake of monounsaturated fats has been linked to lower cholesterol levels and a lower risk of having a heart attack. Pine nuts are also high in vitamin E, vitamin K, copper, iron, and manganese, all of which are beneficial to the cardiovascular system. For example, the fatty acid oleic acid helps to lower LDL (or “bad cholesterol”) and increase HDL (or “good cholesterol”) in the blood.


  1. Great Vegan Source of Iron: Pine nuts are packed with 3 mg of iron per one ounce serving and are often overlooked as a suitable source of iron for vegans or vegetarians (or anyone for that matter!). Iron is a key component of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying pigment in blood that supplies energy to the body. The copper they contain also helps the body to absorb more of the iron.


  1. Anti-Aging: Pine nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E; about 9.33 mg of it per 100 g (about 62% of the recommended daily allowance – RDA). Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen free radicals.


  1. Eye Health: Pine nuts contain the antioxidant lutein. An intake of dietary lutein can significantly help with the prevention of eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Pine nuts also contain vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, another important eye vitamin.


  1. Boost Energy: Pine nuts contain nutrients that can help to boost your energy levels such as protein, iron, and magnesium. They’re a great snack to have in the car to nibble on in between meals!


And as for their supposed aphrodisiac qualities? This is likely due to the fact that they are high in zinc, a mineral essential to healthy fertility in both males and females. The famed Arabian medical scholar, Galen, recommended eating one hundred (to be precise) pine nuts before going to bed. Hey, any excuse for that extra dollop of pesto at dinner…

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