Pine Nuts also called Chilgoza in Hindi is truly a super food as it is very rich in nutrients. It has wonderful skin, hair and health benefits. It aids weight loss, prevents cancer, reduces cholesterol and prevents constipation and anemia. It gives us steady energy and helps improve immunity. Children, pregnant women, men, women and older people all will benefit consuming Chilgoza on a regular basis. Pine nut oil extracted from pine nuts also have wonderful medicinal uses.
What Are Pine Nuts?
Pine nuts are the edible seeds of pine tree. There are many varieties of pine trees that produce pine nuts but the seeds are collected only from species that produce large seeds. Some of the important species used for collecting pine nuts are Pinus Koraiensis commonly called Korean pine, Pinus gerardiana also called Chilgoza Pine found commonly in North India, Pinus Sibirica, Pinus Pinea also called Stone Pine, Pinus Edulis also called Colorado Pinyon and Pinus Cembroides also called Mexican Pinyon.
When pine nuts are extracted from the pine cone, they are covered in a brown outer coat. When we peel the shell, we get cream colored pine nuts. Shelled pine nuts turn rancid very quickly but if stored with the outer coat intact will last longer. Pine nuts taste almost like sunflower seeds but much better in taste. Since it is very very expensive, I use them mainly for making pesto as I love pesto pasta.
How To Harvest Pine Nuts?
It is actually very easy to harvest pine nuts. If you visit a pine forest, you will find lot of mature pine cones fallen off the trees. Collect pine cones that are not damaged and tap them on a rock, the seeds will fall off the pine cones easily. Now all we have to do is peel the thin outer brown coat and eat the delicious pine nuts 🙂
Pine Nuts Common Names:
Pine nuts are called Chilgoza in Hindi and Urdu, Pinon in Spanish, Pinoli or Pignoli in Italian, Pine Kayalu in Telugu, Pine Vidhai in Tamil and Chilgoza in Marathi.
Pine Nuts Nutrition Facts:
100 grams of pine nuts have around 673 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 3.7 grams of sugar, 68 grams of fat and 13 grams of protein. It is rich vitamin K, vitamin E, choline, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B5. It is rich in minerals like copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
Health Benefits Of Pine Nuts:
1. Good For Heart Health:
All nuts including pine nuts have been proven to be good for heart health. Eating just around 150 grams of nuts per week on a regular basis has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by 35 % thus lowering the risk of heart attack and other heart problems. This is due to the high amount of potassium found in pine nuts which helps lower blood pressure. You can read the study that supports this claim here.
2. Stabilizes Blood Sugar Levels:
Pine nuts are good for diabetic patients, regular consumption both helps prevent and stabilizes blood sugar levels. The fiber, minerals, vitamins and other bio active compounds present in pine nuts may be responsible for the beneficial properties. You can read the study that proves it here.
3. Reduces Cholesterol Levels:
Consuming pine nuts on a regular basis helps reduce LDL cholesterol so people with elevated cholesterol levels will benefit consuming pine nuts on a regular basis. Bio active compounds like phytosterols, polyphenols and tocopherols found in pine nuts greatly help reduce LDL cholesterol level.
4. Boosts Energy:
Pine nuts are good to consume before going out on a hike or run. Since pine nuts are rich in fat and protein, consuming just a handful of pine nuts will give us enough energy to go on a long hike or run. Since pine nut is a slow burning food, it gives us steady energy to do the physical activity without any tiredness.
5. Prevents Constipation:
As the amount of processed food intake is going up, constipation problem is also going up as processed foods are devoid of any fibre. Nuts like pine nuts are rich in fiber, 100 grams of pine nuts have around 3.7 grams of dietary fiber. Consuming fiber rich whole foods is the answer to getting rid of constipation once for all.
6. For Weight Loss:
Both pine nuts and pine nut oil suppresses appetite so they are good to include in weight loss diets. Polyunsaturated fatty acids found in pine nuts stimulates appetite suppressing hormones that greatly helps curb the appetite for hours. One of the main reasons we tend to put on the unnecessary pounds is because of snacking especially processed sugary foods which stimulate our hunger even more. Instead try consuming natural appetite suppressant foods like pine nuts.
7. Fights Anemia:
Pine nuts are rich in iron, 100 grams contain around 5.5 mg of iron. Anemia is a major problem and especially here in India almost 50 % of women in reproductive age are anemic. Instead of consuming iron pills, try consuming natural foods high in iron like dates, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and pine nuts on a regular basis.
8. Fights Cancer:
All nuts including pine nuts are rich in antioxidants which helps protect us from cancer. Pine nuts are rich in vitamin E (100 grams of pine nuts gives us almost 62 % of the daily recommended amount) which is an amazing antioxidant. Also polyphenols present in pine nuts fights off cancer causing cells effectively.
9. Boosts Immunity:
Due to their high vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content, pine nuts help boost immunity really effectively. The antioxidants present in pine nuts helps fight off the free radicals that are responsible for premature ageing along with reducing oxidative stress and fighting off diseases really well.
10. Good For Hair & Skin Care:
Pine nuts are good for both hair and skin care as it is full of nutrients that are essential for clear skin and thick hair. We will benefit both consuming pine nuts and applying it externally for skin care. To use it as a scrub, grind pine nuts into a fine powder, add in equal quantities of rice flour. Finally add in enough rice water to form a paste and use as face scrub. Pine nut oil can be used as a massage oil too.
Pine Nuts Side Effects:
Pine nuts if had in moderation will not cause any side effects. Though rare, some people can be allergic to pine nuts. If people with pine nuts allergy consume it, they will experience severe allergic reaction like itchy rash, swelling, vomiting, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, etc.
Where To Buy Pine Nuts?
Pine Nuts Cost:
Pine nuts are very very expensive of all the nuts. 100 grams cost approximately around 800 rupees in health food stores in India. The amount can very from place to place.
Pine Nuts Selection:
If pine nuts with the shell is available, please buy that as it has a long shelf life. If they are shelled, they usually turn rancid very soon. Here in Tamil Nadu, it is so hard to find pine nuts with the shell.
Pine Nuts Storage:
I would suggest storing it immediately in the fridge especially if you have bought shelled pine nuts, this will prevent it from going rancid soon. Since it is so expensive, I make it a point to store it in the fridge always as I don’t want it going rancid.
How To Eat Pine Nuts?
I love pesto which is nothing but a paste of pine nuts, olive oil, basil, garlic and Parmesan cheese so I make pesto and mix it along with boiled pasta or use it as a chutney for sandwich which is very very delicious. We can also eat pine nuts raw and they taste wonderful and finally we can also add them to salads too.