While we’re in the subject of nuts – or seeds conveniently called nuts – one of my favorites has got to be the pine nut. In salads, with steamed tilapia, in moon cakes, or just by itself, pine nuts lend a special flavor that is incomparable to other nuts, in my opinion. What’s more: it is packed with nutrients, like vitamins A (sharpens vision; boosts immunity), C (boost immune system; combats cardiovascular disease), D (stronger bones and teeth), E (antioxidant), K (promotes proper blood clotting; promotes against osteoporosis), magnesium, potassium, and an excellent source of fiber. They are also high in monounsaturated fats to help reduce blood cholesterol and antioxidants to protect the body’s cells.
While we understand that most nuts have healthy oils and nutrients, what makes the pine nut stand apart from the rest? Well, recent studies have shown that pine nuts can curb your appetite (scroll down below to read the research). In addition, my family have found it a good remedy for cracked heels and calluses from those long summers of flip flops and sandals.
Beauty care professionals have come up with a variety of solutions for dry and rough feet, from soaking in various liquid substances; mixing a pumice stone with a callus shaver; and/or applying Vaseline and sleeping with socks. But ever try adding a little something to your diet?
Not too long ago, my dad – an all-year-round sandal-wearer – started incorporating pine nuts into his diet on a regular basis. Soon after that, he noticed that his feet (and heels) had naturally become smoother, less dry and rough from all that exposure in the elements. My mom tried it, with similar results. As Spring approaches again, our feet are all ready for Summer!
How to cook pine nuts: Like with other nuts, a quick Internet search will retrieve countless recipes using pine nuts. I usually buy some raw pine nuts, toast them lightly, and keep a stash handy in my bag.
Where to find it: Like almonds, pine nuts can be found in most grocery stores, both in the raw and toasted variety. While in the nuts section, be sure to try some of your other healthy “nutty” selections.
What else: For those who are allergic to nuts, be careful! Individuals who are allergic to one tree nut may not be allergic to another; and although allergies to pine nuts are less common then, say, to peanuts or walnuts, it is always smarter to exercise precaution.
Who’s done the research:
• Pine nut FFA and pine nut TG supplementation seem to increase the satiety-inducing hormones CCK and GLP-1 concentrations postprandially. This may lead to a reduced prospective food intake suggesting that pine nut FFA and TG may act as an appetite suppressant in overweight women. Further human studies are needed to confirm these effects and to evaluate effects on actual food intake and body weight. – Pasman, Wilrike J, et al. 2008 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 in Health and Disease, 7(10).
• Pine nuts are high in nutritional value. For instance, Stone pine (Pinus pineal) seeds have a protein content up to 31.6% of the total dry weight of the edible portion. They also contain a considerable amount of vitamins A, B1, and B2, potassium, magnesium, and other minerals as well as dietary fiber. – Jin, Tengchuan, et al. 2008. Purification and Characterization of the 7S Vicilin from Korean Pine (Pinus koraiensis). J. Agric. Food Chem. 56(17): 8159-65.
• Similar to other tree nuts and peanut, pine nut is also known to be a source of food allergins. – Jin, Tengchuan, et al. 2008. Purification and Characterization of the 7S Vicilin from Korean Pine (Pinus koraiensis). J. Agric. Food Chem. 56(17): 8159-65.
• Pine-nut oil (PNO, Pinus sibirica), which is widely used in medicine to treat burns, boils, eczema, psoriasis, stomach ulcers, and other diseases, is the most well-known. – A. Ivanova. 1997. Treatment With Pines and Other Conifers [in Russian], OOO Averseb, Minsk. 207.
• Pine-nut oil can normalize the blood lipid spectrum; has cholesterol-lowering activity; assists the reduction of surplus body mass and, as a result, corrects these risk factors; lowers arterial pressure, etc. – E.E. Zhukova, et al. 2005. Masla Zhiry 2(9).
• [Pine nuts] have important health properties associated with reduction of the risk both of coronary heart disease and non-fatal myocardial infarction. – Nergiz C, Conmez I. 2004. Food Chem 86:365.
• The pine nut oil is known as the only conifer nut oil rich in pinolenic acid (5,9,12-18:3)…Many studies have shown that pine nut oil has hypocholesterolemic activity in animals. For example, it reduces blood pressure and attenuates serum VLDL-TAG and VLDL cholesterol. – Lee, Jin-Won, et al. 2004. 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 39: 383-87.