Health Benefits of Pine Nuts

Despite their name, pine nuts are actually edible seeds that come from different species of pine cones. Pine nuts are healthy when added to your diet in moderation. 

These tiny seeds pack a variety of nutrients essential to your health, including vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy fats. While they are high in fats, they have minimal saturated fat. The balance of healthy fats, protein, and fiber in a serving of pine nuts can help keep blood sugar levels stable, help with diabetes management, and support your heart health.  

Health Benefits

Pine nuts can increase your energy levels due to their protein, iron, and magnesium. The antioxidant power of vitamin E contained in them may help keep your skin healthy and young in appearance. 

Additionally, regularly eating pine nuts or other seeds and nuts may help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. This benefit may be due to the type of fats commonly found in seeds and nuts.  

Pine nuts also can provide other health benefits like:

Heart Health

Pine nuts contain a variety of nutrients that contribute to heart health and may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, including antioxidants that help with long and short-term heart health. 

Eating at least three servings of pine nuts or other tree nuts every week may reduce your risk of heart failure and atrial fibrillation. And, eating at least one ounce of nuts a day may lower your risk of heart disease further. 

The unsaturated fats in nuts help raise HDL or good cholesterol levels and lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids may prevent arrhythmias (a condition where your heart beats too fast or too slow) and help reduce blood clotting. 

Diabetes Management

Pine nuts, along with other seeds and nuts, may help keep blood sugar levels stable, thanks to the balance of fats, fiber, and protein. Additionally, the magnesium in pine nuts may help improve insulin's ability to uptake glucose.

Brain Health

The omega-3 fatty acids found in pine nuts can help build and repair cells in the brain. Research has shown a connection between omega-3 and improved thinking abilities and blood flow to the brain. The antioxidants in pine nuts may also help lower the cellular stress and inflammation in the brain, which may improve overall cognition and reduce the risk of dementia.

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Nutrition

Pine nuts are rich in magnesium, iron, antioxidants, zinc, and protein, which can help with diabetes management, heart health, and brain health

Other nutrients in pine nuts include:

Nutrients per Serving

A one-ounce (28 grams) serving of dried pine nuts, which is about 167 pine nuts, contains:

  • Calories: 191
  • Protein: 3.9 grams
  • Fat: 19 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 3.7 grams
  • Fiber: 1.1 grams
  • Sugar: 1 gram
  • Magnesium: 71.2 milligrams
  • Phosphorus: 163 milligrams 
  • Iron: 1.57 milligrams

Portion Sizes

Pine nuts are healthy, but high in calories. They should be added to your diet in moderation, especially if you are trying to lose weight. That said, a one-ounce serving of pine nuts provides many essential nutrients, including dietary fiber, which can help you feel satisfied and full. As a result, pine nuts can help reduce your appetite and promote healthy weight management. 

If you’re allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, or pine pollen, it's possible you have a cross-reactivity to pine nuts. Consult with your doctor to determine if pine nuts are safe for you before eating them.

A small number of people experience pine nut syndrome or pine mouth. Individuals will experience a bitter, metallic taste that starts about 12 to 48 hours after eating pine nuts. This taste can last from two to four weeks. This bitter sensation can worsen when you eat other foods during this time. 

Fortunately, pine mouth is not an allergic reaction and has no health consequences. The reason some people experience this is unclear, although it could be due to genetic factors or related to the consumption of certain species of pine nuts.   

How to Prepare Pine Nuts

Pine nuts are commonly used in pesto due to their buttery taste. They also can be added to various dishes. They are delicious raw and can be easy to carry with you as a snack. You can roast pine nuts by baking them in the oven or toasting them on the stove. This process will enhance their mild flavor. 

When buying pine nuts, check the expiration date to ensure you are buying fresh pine nuts. You can store pine nuts in your refrigerator or freezer to keep them fresh longer. Roasting pine nuts extends their shelf life as compared to storing them raw. 

Here are some ways to use pine nuts in recipes:

  • Blend pine nuts with cheese, garlic, basil, cheese, and olive oil to make a pesto
  • Sprinkle onto yogurt with fruit and other nuts to create a delicious parfait
  • Add raw or roasted pine nuts to salads or pasta dishes
  • Blend pine nuts into a homemade hummus
  • Add them to vegetable side dishes such as roasted cauliflower, broccoli, or green beans
  • Mix pine nuts into grain side dishes such as quinoa or rice
  • Top your pizza with pine nuts for an added crunch
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 17, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology: “Pine Tree Allergy.”

Antioxidants: “Health benefits of Nut Consumption in Middle-Aged and Elderly Population.”

Arch Neurol: “Dietary antioxidants and long-term risk of dementia.”

Archives Internal Medicine: “Nut consumption and Blood Lipid Levels.”

Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School: “Why nutritionists are crazy about nuts.”

Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease: “Quantitative Erythrocyte Omega-3 EOA Plus DHA Levels are Related to Higher Regional Cerebral Blood Flow on Brain SPECT.”

Nutrition Research: “A potential trigger for pine mouth: a case of a homozygous phenylthiocarbamide taster.”

PLOS ONE: “Effect of Tree Nuts on Glycemic Control in Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Dietary Trials.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture: “FoodData Central: Nuts, pine nuts, dried.”

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