Pine nuts are tasty, buttery little kernels, and the main ingredient in pesto. Although pine nuts are popular all over the world today, they originate in the Northern hemisphere, where pine trees flourish1
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about pine nuts, from what they are to their associated health benefits and nutritional value. Then, we’ll explain how to prepare pine nuts and advise on who should avoid them.
What are pine nuts?
Pine nuts? More like pine nots! This tasty little kernel is actually the seed of a pine tree. Pine nuts grow inside pinecones for up to three years. They are ready to harvest approximately ten days before the pinecones open.
Key benefits of pine nuts
Pine nuts are associated with a wide range of health benefits, including:
- Better heart health. Pine nut consumption is connected to lower levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in the blood and lower blood pressure, enhancing overall heart health2.
- Lower BMI. Eating tree nuts, including pine nuts, is linked to a lower body mass index3. Incorporating pine nuts into a healthy and balanced diet may help you achieve any weight loss goals.
- A healthier brain function. Nuts supply the brain with essential nutrients. The result is that pine nuts can help reduce the risk of illnesses associated with cognitive decline4.
Nutritional value of pine nuts
A 100g portion of pine nuts contains5
- 673 calories
- 7g of protein
- 4g of fat
- 1g of carbohydrate
- 53 mg of iron
Pine nuts also contain essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Although pine nuts are high in fats, these are the ‘good’ types of fats which are linked to lower cholesterol6
. The ‘bad’ saturated fat content of pine nuts is minimal7
How to prepare pine nuts
Most people hear pine nuts and think pesto. Pesto is made by blending pine nuts with olive oil, basil, and a touch of parmesan, to make a delicious, umami-rich sauce that beautifully complements pasta.
Health lovers with a sweet tooth will appreciate another Italian pine nut recipe: torta della nonna
(Grandma’s cake), or Italian pine nut tart in English. Torta della nonna
is like a traditional English custard tart, with lots and lots of pine nuts added atop the custard in the middle of baking. Truly delicious.
A simple way to enjoy pine nuts
is to lightly toast them, in a pan or in the oven, and sprinkle them atop soups and salads.
Who should avoid pine nuts
People who are allergic to pine trees, or other tree nuts, should avoid pine nuts. Allergic reactions are common, and in severe cases can result in anaphylactic shock8
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22nd January 2021