Pine nuts nutrition facts

 

Crunchy yet butter textured, pleasantly sweet and delicious pine nuts are small edible seeds of female cone in a pine tree. Pine kernels are, indeed, very good source of plant derived nutrients, essential minerals, vitamins and “heart friendly” mono-unsaturated fatty acids that help benefit in reducing cholesterol levels in the blood.

Pine trees grow chiefly in the wild cold and taiga forests of the northern hemisphere, particularly of Siberia and Canada. They are huge, straight erect trees with large stem which may reach upto 75 feet in height with pyramidal or umbrella like dense foliage cover.

The “flowers” of pine tree subsequently develop into a cone. The female cones take about two–three years to mature after pollination. At maturity, the female-cones (ovulate or seed cones) may reach from as small as 3 cm cone to a very large cone reaching about 35 cm. Scales at the base and tip of the cone tends to be small and sterile, and therefore, bear no seeds. Once mature and dry, the cones naturally split open to release the seeds.

The two prominent pine species known for their large edible kernels include Pinus sibirica and Pinus koraiensis. Stone (western) pines have long slender kernels in comparison to oriental pines, in which the seeds are broad, large and have higher fat content.

Pine nuts feature tough dark-brown outer coat or shell. Inside, its edible kernel has cream white, delicate buttery flavor and sweet taste.

Health benefits of pine nuts

  • Pine nuts are one of the calorie-rich edible nuts. 100 g of dry-kernels provide 673 calories. Additionally, they comprise of numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
  • Their high caloric content chiefly comes from fats. Indeed, the nuts are especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid (18:1 undifferentiated fat) that helps to lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good-cholesterol” in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet which contain good amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants, helps to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
  • Pine or cedar nuts contain essential fatty acid (omega-6 fat), pinolenic acid. Recent research has shown its potential use in weight loss by curbing appetite. Pinolenic acid triggers the release of hunger-suppressant enzymes cholecystokinin and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) in the gut. In addition, pinolenic acid has thought to have LDL-lowering properties by enhancing hepatic LDL uptake.
  • Likewise in almonds , pines too are an excellent source of vitamin E; contain about 9.33 mg per 100 g (about 62% of RDA). Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
  • Furthermore, pines are one of gluten free tree nuts, and therefore, are a popular ingredient in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas. Such formula preparations can be a healthy alternative in people with wheat food allergy, and celiac disease.
  • Pine nuts are an excellent source of B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folates. These vitamins work as co-factors for enzymes in cellular substrate metabolism inside the human body.
  • Furthermore, pine nuts contain healthy amounts of essential minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. At 8.802 mg per 100 g (about 383% of daily recommended intake), pines are one of the richest sources of manganese. Manganese is an all-important co-factor for antioxidant enzyme,superoxide dismutase. It is therefore, consumption of pines helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.

Pine nut oil has a delicate flavor with sweet aroma, and is being employed in many traditional medicinal applications.



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