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Pine Nuts: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction: 

Pine nuts are being consumed in the Mediterranean region for over 2000 years. Commercial pine nuts are largely obtained from Pinus pinea. However, seeds from other plants such as Pinus koraiensis and Pinus gerardiana are also eaten worldwide.1 The composition of pine nuts varies from species to species and depends on the climatic condition and geographical location. They are a rich source of nutrients and might be beneficial for human health in various aspects.1 Detailed description is given in the following sections.  

chilgoza benefits

Did you know?

  • Pine nuts contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that can help lower bad cholesterol levels. source: fdc.nal.usda.gov
  • Pine nuts are rich in magnesium, which plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy bones and regulating blood pressure. source: fdc.nal.usda.gov
  • Pine nuts are low in carbohydrates, making them a suitable option for individuals following a low-carb diet. source: fdc.nal.usda.gov
  • Pine nuts are a good source of iron, which is essential for the production of red blood cells. source: fdc.nal.usda.gov

Nutritional Value of Pine Nuts: 

Pine nuts contain an energy of 673 kcal. The nutrients present in pine nuts are as follows: 

Nutrient Percentage content 
Carbohydrates 13.1g 
Protein 13.7g 
Fibre 3.7g 
Sugars 3.59g 
Fats 68.4g 
Starch 1.43g 
Calcium 16mg 
Magnesium 251mg 
Potassium 597mg 
Iron 5.53mg 
Phosphorous 575mg 
Sodium 2mg 
Copper 1.32mg 
Manganese 8.8mg 
Zinc 6.45mg 

Table 1: Depicting the nutrients present in 100g of pine nuts.2 

Vitamins present in pine nuts are as follows: 

  • Vitamin A (retinol) 
  • Vitamin B1(thiamine) 
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin) 
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 
  • Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)2 

Also Read: Munakka: Benefits, Side Effects, Precautions and More!

Properties of Pine Nuts: 

Pine nuts might have the following properties: 

  • It might help lower lipid levels in the blood 
  • It might help reduce the risk of heart diseases 
  • It might be an antioxidant  
  • It might help in weight management  
  • It might help lower blood pressure 
  • It might be helpful for the liver 
  • It might be helpful for the kidney 3,3 

Also Read: Anjeer: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Potential Uses of Pine Nuts for Overall Health: 

The composition and the nutrients present in it might change depending on the geographical location and climatic condition.1 However, they do contain vitamins, minerals and various other compounds which might aid human health. Some of the potential health benefits of pine nuts are as follows. 

1. Potential uses of pine nuts for cholesterol: 

An animal study showed that pine nuts might have the potential to lower lipid levels in the blood. It was also stated that pine nuts might also affect the metabolism of lipoprotein. Pine nuts are rich in nutrients, and vitamins with less cholesterol.3 However, more studies on humans are required to prove these possible effects.  

2. Potential uses of pine nuts for weight management: 

Peanuts are a rich source of minerals, proteins, and vitamins. Regular consumption or including peanut in the diet reduce the food intake. Few studies showed that pea nuts may maintain proper weight and may control the blood sugar levels in the body. However, further research is required to claim that peanuts are in weight management.3 

3. Potential uses of pine nuts for the heart: 

A study showed that eating pine nuts might help reduce the level of fat in the blood and may also decrease the incidence of atherosclerosis (deposition of fat material in the human body) and coronary heart diseases. Pine nuts also contain flavonoids and consumption of peanuts might help reduce the risk factors of heart diseases. It might also promote the relaxation of blood vessels and the free flow of blood. However, kindly ensure that you consult a doctor for heart conditions to receive proper treatment. Do not self-medicate.4  

4. Potential uses of pine nuts for blood pressure: 

A few studies have shown that the potential use of pine nuts for heart diseases might be due to its possible effects on the blood vessels. Pine nuts might help reduce systolic blood pressure. It might also help improve the endothelial function (lining of blood vessels), may reduce the plasma viscosity (allows better blood flow) and may reduce the plasma fibrinogen (a factor causing blood clots). All these factors may help in controlling blood pressure.3 However, consult a doctor in case of high blood pressure and do not self-medicate.   

5. Potential uses of pine nuts for diabetes: 

Researchers have noted that pine nuts extracts might have the potential to lower blood glucose levels. This activity might be due to the presence of proteins, vitamins, and antioxidant activity in pine nuts. However, these effects need to be further evaluated by conducting more studies. Furthermore, conditions such as diabetes need to be diagnosed and treated properly by a doctor. Kindly consult a doctor and do not self-medicate.3 

6. Potential uses of pine nuts for the liver: 

It was seen in certain animal studies that pine nut extracts might help improve liver function tests. This might be due to the antioxidant activity of pine nuts. There seemed to be an improvement in the structure of liver cells on the administration of pine nut extract too.3 However, these effects need to be evaluated and consulted with a doctor in case of liver infection and not self-medicate.  

7. Potential uses of pine nuts for the kidney:  

An animal study showed that protection of the glomeruli (Cleaning units of kidneys) and a reduction in inflammation might be due to the administration of pine nuts. This might be potentially due to the reduction of oxidative stress by the antioxidant property of the pine nuts. Therefore, pine nuts might help protect the kidney and might exhibit a reno-protective property.3 

Though there are studies that show the potential uses of pine nuts in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of pine nuts on human health.  

From what I have seen, pinolenic acid (PNLA), derived from pine nuts, may show benefits as a dietary supplement for addressing chronic inflammatory and immune diseases. It exhibits potential benefits in managing these conditions and may serve as a valuable addition to a person’s nutritional regimen.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Peanuts: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

How to Use Pine Nuts? 

Pine nuts can be used in the following ways: 

  • Raw  
  • Roasted 
  • Breads 
  • Cakes 
  • Cookies 
  • Candies 
  • Sauces 
  • Meat dishes1 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking pine nuts in large amounts. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

Recently, I stumbled upon a study that shows that pine nuts might trigger the release of gut hormones involved in bringing satiety, such as cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). This may result in a decrease in appetite and food intake, suggesting that pine nuts might act as a natural appetite suppressant.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Side Effects of Pine Nuts: 

The most common side effects of pine nuts are: 

  • Pine mouth syndrome: Bitter or metallic taste in the mouth after eating pine nuts is called pine mouth syndrome. It can be caused by the consumption of both raw and roasted pine nuts. Usually, the symptoms of this condition go away on their own (self-limiting) and they do not have any adverse effects on health.1 
  • Allergies: Pine nuts can cause allergic reactions in some people. Some of the most common symptoms are: 
  • Anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction that can also lead to death) 
  • Urticaria (red bumps or rashes on the skin) 
  • Angioedema (swelling of face, nose, throat, etc.) 
  • Laryngeal edema (swelling of the throat) 1 

Also Read: Pili Nuts: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

Precautions to Take with Pine Nuts:  

 One should confirm if it is safe for them to eat pine nuts before eating them. Ensure that you are not allergic to pine nuts, as allergic reactions can be serious and might also lead to death1. You should be extra cautious while giving it to children as they might be allergic to them. 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

It is hypothesised that some medicines like those given for controlling blood pressure (ACE inhibitors and vasodilators) might enhance the severity of anaphylactic reactions to pine nuts. Therefore, you should consult a doctor and confirm if it is safe for you to eat pine nuts before eating pine them, especially if you are taking any medication.1 

Also Read: Black Chana: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) How much energy do pine nuts contain? 

The total energy of 673 kcal is present in 100g of pine nuts.2 

2) What are the nutrients of pine nuts? 

Pine nuts contain various nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, sugars, vitamins (A, B, E & C), and minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, etc.).2 

3) Are there any benefits of pine nuts for the skin? 

There are no valid reports of any positive effect of pine nuts on skin. More research is required in this area. 

4) What are the benefits of pine nuts? 

Pine nuts might be helpful for the heart, liver, kidney, diabetes, blood pressure, etc. However, more research is required to prove these potential effects of pine nuts on human health.3,4 

5) What are the benefits of pine nuts for the heart? 

Pine nuts might help in reducing the risk factors that cause heart diseases. Therefore, it might be helpful for the heart. However, kindly consult a doctor for heart-related issues. Do not self-medicate.4 

References: 

1. Cabanillas B, Novak N. Allergic Reactions to Pine Nut: A Review. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol [Internet]. 2015;25(5):329–33. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26727761 

2. FoodData Central. Pine Nuts [Internet]. U.S. Department of Agriculture. [cited 2022 Aug 12]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170591/nutrients 

3. Zulfqar F, Akhtar MF, Saleem A, Akhtar B, Sharif A, Saleem U. Chemical characterization, antioxidant evaluation, and antidiabetic potential of Pinus gerardiana (Pine nuts) extracts. J Food Biochem [Internet]. 2020 Jun 20;44(6):1–12. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jfbc.13199 

4. Amr AR, Abeer EEK. Hypolipideimic and hypocholestermic effects of pine nuts in rats fed high fat, cholesterol-diet. World Appl Sci J [Internet]. 2011;15(12):1667–77. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Amr-Rezq-2/publication/266422897_Hypolipideimic_and_Hypocholestermic_Effect_of_Pine_Nuts_in_Rats_Fed_High_Fat_Cholesterol-Diet/links/582e367908ae102f072db750/Hypolipideimic-and-Hypocholestermic-Effect-of-Pine-Nuts-in-R 

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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