Pine Nut Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Pine nuts, annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Despite what their name implies, pine nuts are not actually a nut at all. Pine nuts are actually seeds harvested from certain types of pine cones. If you're wary of high-fat foods, you might shy away from pine nuts. However, pine nuts contain healthy fats that provide several health benefits. Here are some details on why to include pine nuts on your next grocery list.

Pine Nut Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 ounce of pine nuts (28 grams).

  • Calories: 188
  • Fat: 19g
  • Sodium: 0.6mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3.7g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugars: 1g
  • Protein: 3.8g

Carbs  

An ounce of pine nuts provides just under 4 grams of carbohydrate, with 1 gram of fiber and 1 gram of natural sugar.

Fats

Pine nuts derive their majority of calories from fat with 19 grams per ounce. Most of the fatty acids in pine nuts are from polyunsaturated fat (9.5 grams), followed by monounsaturated fat (5.3 grams). Pine nuts have minimal saturated fat, about 1.4 grams per ounce. Roasted pine nuts with added oil are higher in fat.

Protein

Pine nuts provide just under 4 grams of protein per ounce, making them lower in protein than other types of nuts, like walnuts, almonds, and pistachios.

Vitamins and Minerals

Pine nuts are high in magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and vitamin K.

Health Benefits

Tree nuts in general are a nutritious addition to any meal plan. The higher fat content of pine nuts provides unique benefits worth considering.

Improves Glycemic Control

Nuts and seeds offer a good balance of protein, fats, and fiber to keep blood sugar levels stable. Along with a favorable macronutrient profile, nuts have beneficial micronutrients for diabetes as well. The magnesium in pine nuts and other tree nuts has been shown to improve glucose uptake by insulin. Additionally, pine nuts' monounsaturated fat content reduces hemoglobin A1c levels, a key marker of blood sugar control.

Supports Heart Health

Pine nuts and other tree nuts provide several cardiovascular benefits that prevent heart attacks and stroke. Consuming 3 servings or more of nuts per week (compared to none) lowers the risk of heart failure and atrial fibrillation. The L-arginine in tree nuts improves endothelial function by boosting the availability of nitric oxide (a natural vasodilator). Pine nuts are also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that promote heart health in both the long-term and short-term.

Aids Cognition

In the same way that tree nuts improve circulation for heart health, they also supply essential nutrients to the brain, preventing cognitive issues like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and age-related dementia. Increasing the nut intake of elderly adults boosts cognitive function and reduces depressive symptoms. Using pine nuts as a substitute for some of the saturated fats in your meal (such as replacing the cheese on top of a salad or as a savory snack choice instead of beef jerky) might be especially effective in promoting brain health.

Prevents Colon Cancer

A large-scale case-controlled study in Korea determined that nut consumption, including peanuts, pine nuts, and almonds, was associated with reduced colon cancer rates for men and women. The combination of fiber and antioxidants in pine nuts makes them a healthy choice for good digestion and cancer prevention.

Reduces Waist Circumference

People who eat tree nuts have a lower body weight, body mass index (BMI), and a smaller waist circumference than those who don't, according to NHANES data from 2005–2010. These findings support previous studies that have shown no increase in body weight as a result of eating nuts, despite their high energy density. It's also possible that nuts have a lower calorie content than previously thought, because of some of the calories are trapped in indigestible fiber. The fats in pine nuts make them a satisfying food that reduces appetite and promotes a healthy weight.

Allergies

Pine nut allergies can cause mild to severe reactions, including anaphylaxis. If you're allergic to pine pollen or peanuts, you may experience a cross-reactivity to pine nuts. Symptoms can include chest tightness, hives, and vomiting. Speak to an allergist if you suspect that you're allergic to pine nuts.

Adverse Effects

Pine nut syndrome, also called pine mouth, is a genetic disorder experienced by some after the consumption of pine nuts. This results in a bitter metallic taste that begins 2–3 days after eating pine nuts and lingers in the mouth for 2–4 weeks. Although otherwise harmless, this unpleasant side effect can only be prevented by avoiding pine nuts altogether.

Varieties

There are about 20 species of pine trees that produce large enough seeds to harvest. Popular varieties that grow in the United States are Korean pine, pinyon pine, and stone pine. Pine nuts are the seeds from pine cones, however, not all pine cones produce edible seeds. Never consume pine nuts from pine trees if you aren't sure that the species is safe to eat.

When It's Best

Pine nuts are available at most grocery stores at any time of the year. Buy them raw or roasted, depending on how you plan to use them.

Storage and Food Safety

Raw pine nuts should be consumed within a couple of months because the unsaturated fats tend to go rancid quickly. Store pine nuts in the refrigerator or freezer to prolong their shelf life. If pine nuts start to smell rancid or look moldy, throw them away. You can also roast or purchase roasted pine nuts which will last longer.

How to Prepare

Pine nuts are easy to consume raw. You can toss them onto salads, pasta dishes, blend them into grain dishes, and you can even top ice cream or yogurt with pine nuts. Make pesto out of pine nuts or blend them into homemade hummus recipes.

Roasting pine nuts brings out their mild and delicate flavor. To roast the seeds, simply spread them on a baking sheet and place in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes or less. Be sure to keep an eye on the nuts because they burn quickly.

Recipes

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