Pine Nut Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Pine nuts, annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Despite their name, pine nuts are not nuts at all. Pine nuts are actually seeds harvested from certain types of pine cones. If you're wary of high-fat foods, you might think you should shy away from pine nuts. However, pine nuts contain healthy fats that provide several health benefits.

Pine Nut Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 ounce (28g) of dried pine nuts (approximately 167 kernels).

  • Calories: 191
  • Fat: 19g
  • Sodium: 0.6mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3.7g
  • Fiber: 1.1g
  • Sugars: 1g
  • Protein: 3.9g
  • Magnesium: 71mg
  • Zinc: 1.8mg

Carbs  

An ounce of dried pine nuts provides just under 4 grams of carbohydrate, with 1 gram of fiber and 1 gram of naturally occurring sugar. Pine nuts are a low-carbohydrate food.

Fats

Most of the calories in pine nuts come from fat, with 19 grams per ounce. Most of the fatty acids in pine nuts are from beneficial unsaturated fats: 9.5g polyunsaturated fat and 5.3g monounsaturated fat per ounce. 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 true tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, and pistachios.

Vitamins and Minerals

Pine nuts are high in magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and vitamin K. These micronutrients contribute to a balanced, nutritious diet.

Calories

A serving of pine nuts contains 191 calories. The majority of these come from beneficial fats. An estimated 7% of calories come from carbohydrates, and 8% come from protein.

Health Benefits

Nuts and seeds are a nutritious addition to most any meal plan. The higher fat content of pine nuts provides unique benefits that are worth considering.

Improves Glycemic Control

Pine nuts offer a good balance of protein, fats, and fiber to keep blood sugar levels stable. Along with this favorable macronutrient profile, pine nuts have beneficial micronutrients for diabetes management as well.

The magnesium in pine nuts and tree nuts has been shown to improve glucose uptake by insulin. Additionally, the monounsaturated fat in pine nuts reduces hemoglobin A1c levels, a key marker of blood sugar control.

Supports Heart Health

Pine nuts provide several cardiovascular benefits that may help prevent heart attacks and stroke. Consuming three servings or more of pine nuts or tree nuts per week (compared to none) lowers the risk of heart failure and atrial fibrillation.

The amino acid L-arginine in nuts and seeds, including pine nuts, improves endothelial function by boosting the availability of nitric oxide (a natural vasodilator). This helps prevent coronary artery disease. 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 pine nuts improve circulation for heart health, they also supply essential nutrients to the brain, helping to prevent cognitive issues like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and age-related dementia. In older adults, increased pine nut intake may boost cognitive function and reduce depressive symptoms.

Using pine nuts as a substitute for some of the saturated fats in your meal (such as swapping them in for cheese on top of a salad or as a savory snack instead of beef jerky) might be especially effective in promoting brain health.

May Help Prevent Colon Cancer

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

Aids Healthy Weight Management

People who eat pine nuts and tree nuts have a lower body weight, body mass index (BMI), and smaller waist circumference than those who don't, according to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data. These findings support previous studies that have shown no increase in body weight as a result of eating these foods, despite their high energy density.

It's also possible that nuts and seeds 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 healthy weight management.

Body mass index (BMI) is a dated, biased measure that doesn’t account for several factors, such as body composition, ethnicity, race, gender, and age. 

Despite its flaws, BMI is still widely used in the medical community because it is an inexpensive and quick method for analyzing potential health status and outcomes.

Reduces Inflammation

Pine nuts contain pinolenic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. This compound has been shown in studies to reduce inflammatory markers. Inflammation can lead to chronic illness, including cancer, cognitive decline, and heart diesease.

Allergies

Pine nut allergies can cause mild to severe reactions, including anaphylaxis. If you're allergic to pine pollen or peanuts, you may experience 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. See a healthcare professional immediately if you are having symptoms of anaphylaxis (such as swelling around the lips and face or trouble breathing).

Adverse Effects

A rare condition called pine nut syndrome, also called pine mouth, results in a bitter metallic taste that begins two to three days after eating pine nuts and lingers in the mouth for two to four weeks. This unpleasant side effect is very rare (the research cites only one case study) and 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.

Not all pine trees and 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 raw pine nuts or purchase roasted pine nuts; these will last longer than raw pine nuts.

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 use them to top ice cream or yogurt. 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.

12 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Malia Frey
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.