Pine nuts are a type of seed gathered from pine cones. They can be eaten raw, roasted, or ground into flour. These seeds have been used in cooking for centuries and are believed to be one of the first foods ever to be eaten by humans due to their abundant supply, high nutritional value, and because they don’t require any preparation before consumption.
In addition to the culinary uses of these seeds, they also provide some great health benefits that make them a great addition to a balanced diet. This article will go over what you need to know about the nutritional value and benefits of this healthy food choice.
Pine Nuts Nutrition Facts
Pine nuts contain essential proteins, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. According to the USDA, 100 grams of these nuts has the following nutritional profile (11).
- Calories: 673kcal
- Fat: 68.4g
- Sodium: 2mg
- Carbohydrates: 13.1g
- Fiber: 3.7g
- Sugars: 3.59g
- Protein: 13.7g
Pine Nuts Health Benefits
Thanks to their rich nutritional profile, these nuts offer the following health benefits:
They are also high in antioxidants which help to prevent diseases such as cancer. These antioxidants come from the oils found in pine nuts. The most important of these oils is pinolenic acid which has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body (2).
Pine nuts also contain pinitol which can stop sugar molecules binding with insulin receptors on cells allowing blood glucose levels to remain stable long after eating foods that would otherwise cause spikes in blood sugar levels. Pinitol works together with insulin; without it, insulin’s job of removing excess sugar from the bloodstream becomes much harder leading to several types of disease (3).
Pine nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids which help to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels. These types of fats have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, prevent blood clots, lower triglyceride levels, and boost brain health (8).
The fiber contained in pine nuts can slow down digestion which helps you feel full longer after eating them. This is great news if weight loss is on your agenda because it means that they make a good choice for snacks at any time of the day.
These nuts also contain pinolenic acid which slows carbohydrate absorption, which means that they are also useful for preventing cravings after meals (1).
Studies have shown that pinolenic acid can increase metabolism. It does this by activating PPARy receptors (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors). These receptors not only activate fat-burning methods in cells but also help prevent insulin resistance which makes it easier for the body to lose weight (1).
Pine nuts are great for making the brain function at its best thanks to their abundance of omega-3 fatty acids. This allows neurotransmitters in the body, which carry messages between nerve cells to be created effectively and it also improves cell membrane health. Memory is also improved when these types of fats are present in the diet due to their ability to regulate serotonin levels which make it easier for you to concentrate after eating them (7).
Improved Gut Health
Pine nut oil has also been shown to have a beneficial effect on gut health due to its antibacterial properties. This is because it contains pinostrobin, which stops harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli, and listeria from multiplying and that means it can’t make you ill (6).
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Pine Nut Side Effects And Precautions
There are some precautions and side effects that you should be aware of before buying pine nuts. These include:
May Worsen Inflammation
Pine nuts may aggravate medical conditions such as arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease because they contain omega-6 fatty acids in the form of linoleic acid which increases inflammation when eaten in large quantities. This is why it’s important not to buy supplements containing great amounts of this oil if you suffer from any condition like these ones (4).
May Cause Allergic Reactions
Just like other types of nuts, pine nuts can cause allergic reactions in some people. This is because they contain a protein called albumin which the body mistakes for a harmful substance and releases antibodies to fight it. The result of this response is an uncomfortable swelling known as an allergic reaction. These side effects include (10):
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of tongue and throat
There are approximately 673kcal in a 100 gram serving of these nuts (11). If you’re eating them as a snack, it’s important to only eat small amounts to avoid gaining weight from eating too many calories which can lead to other side effects that will make it difficult for you to stay healthy.
Possible Side Effects For Diabetics
Although pine nuts have been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, there is a chance that they may cause fluctuations in your glucose levels if eaten in large quantities. This is because they contain pinitol which makes the body release large amounts of insulin which causes blood sugar levels to plummet leaving you hungry again soon after eating the snack (3).
The Bottom Line
Pine nuts are often overlooked when it comes to healthy superfoods that can add a lot of flavor and texture to your dishes. Since they’re rich in nutrients, fiber, healthy fats, and protein they’re a great snack on their own or an addition to salads and pasta meals.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Activity of dietary acids on FFA1 and FFA4 and characterisation of pinolenic acid as a dual FFA1/FFA4 agonist with potential effect against metabolic diseases (2015, pubmed.gov)
- Anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory effects of pinoleic acid in rheumatoid arthritis (2021, oup.com)
- Effects of pintol on glycemic control, insulin resistance and adipocytokine levels in patients with type 2 diabetes (2011, pubmed.gov)
- Linoleic Acid: A Nutritional Quandary (2017, nih.gov)
- Nut consumption and body weight (2003, oup.com)
- Nuts and their Effect on Gut Microbiota, Gut Function and Symptoms in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials (2020, nih.gov)
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids (2015, pubmed.gov)
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Heart Health (2015, ahajournals.org)
- Pesto sauce recipe (2006, bbcgoodfood.com)
- Pine nut allergy: Clinical features and major allergens characterization (2012, wiley.com)
- Pine nuts (2020, usda.gov)