Tasty, buttery pine nuts are considered one of the fanciest of all nuts. They are actually the seeds of pine trees and not really nuts. They are found in the pine cones but only 18 types of pine trees create pine nuts that are large enough to eat. Like most nuts, they are packed full of nutrition and health benefits.
In numerous studies, the consumption of nuts was found to lower waist circumference, blood pressure, insulin resistance and increase high cholesterol.
Those who eat nuts regularly have been found to maintain a healthy weight, according to research. The thought is that those eating nuts regularly have a considerably healthy diet because they are getting more fiber, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium, according to statistics.
Bad Cholesterol Lowered
Mixed nuts (walnuts, peanuts and pine nuts), when included in a healthy diet for six weeks, showed an improvement in cholesterol levels.
The fatty acids in pine nuts help release an appetite-suppressing hormone (cholecystokinin). When women in a study consumed fatty acid (pinolenic acid from the pine nut) before breakfast it was found to lower the amount of food eaten throughout the day by 37 percent. Pine nut oil was found to help overweight, post-menopausal women suppress their appetite in this study.
Decreases Heart Disease Risk
There was a decrease in cardiovascular disease in participants that ate one-quarter ounce of nuts per day in a 1999-2004 study.
Please Note: As with all nuts, they have been known to cause allergic reactions. There is a rare allergic reaction to pine nuts known as Pine Mouth Syndrome which can last a few weeks but it is not dangerous. This causes a bitter or metallic taste after eating pine nuts.
Growing and Harvesting Pine Nuts is An Expensive Process
There are about 18 pine trees that produce nuts worthy of harvesting. These trees are found in Europe, Russia, Mongolia, Eastern Siberia, North Korea and North America. There are eight varieties that grow in cold climates such as Canada.
It can take at least 10 years to get pine nuts from a tree; first, it takes between 6-8 years for the tree to mature fully and then 2-3 more years to develop the pine nuts. They ripen in late summer or early fall.
Next is the drying process: they are placed in a burlap bag and exposed to heat to dry out the cone for about 20 days. The outer shell must be removed, the cones are broken apart and the seeds are taken out. This time-consuming process makes it an expensive nut. Learn more reasons why pine nuts are so expensive.
One ounce serving (165 pine nuts) contains a wide variety of nutrients (potassium, protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin K and more) Go here for more nutrition details.
Pine nuts have been consumed since Stone Age times; remains have been found in caves in southern France. The pine nut tree has been cultivated since about 4000 BCE according to Archaeologists.
They have been harvested for over 8,000 years. There is proof of them being found in excavations at Gatecliff Shelter, Nevada, 6,000 years BCE.
How to Select
Shelled nuts are best in air-tight plastic bags in the stores. Make sure they are fresh, have not lost their light color and are not brown.
How to Store
Their high-fat content makes it important to store them in the refrigerator for 1 – 3 months or kept in an airtight container or in the freezer for up to 9 months. At room temperature, they will only last for a week before going rancid.
Tips for eating or cooking
They are delicious raw, but you can also eat them roasted, adding a sweet nutty flavor and crunch to vegetable dishes and salads. And of course, there is delicious pesto.