Hidden Health Benefits of Underappreciated Pine Seeds
There is one problem with these delicately flavoured pine seeds – it’s very hard to stop at just one serving. But it’s not only the taste that makes people who cares about their health include pine seeds in their diet. There are many other good reasons.
Pine nuts have been eaten in Asia and Europe since the Palaeolithic period. In Chinese culture, a pine tree is considered as a symbol of longevity and immortality. But when we think of a nut, a pine nut doesn’t come to mind. But it should, because this under-appreciated nut has many amazing health benefits.
7 Science-based health benefits of pine seeds
Here, we are going to use the term “Percent Daily Value (%DV).” It is a guide to the nutrients in one serving of food. For example, 40% for protein means that one serving provides 40% of the protein you need each day. It helps you make informed food choices. DVs are based on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults.
Pine seeds are rich in copper providing 65% DV. Copper is necessary for the proper growth, development, and maintenance of bone, connective tissue, brain, heart, and many other body organs. An essential component of many enzymes, copper plays a role in a wide range of physiological processes including iron utilization, elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment called melanin. Copper stimulates the immune system to fight infections, to repair injured tissues, and to promote healing. Copper also helps to neutralize “free-radicals”, which can cause severe damage to cells.
Numerous health problems can develop when copper intake is inadequate, including iron deficiency anemia, ruptured blood vessels, osteoporosis, joint problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, brain disturbances, elevated bad cholesterol and reduced good cholesterol levels, irregular heartbeat, and increased susceptibility to infections.
The World Health Organization recommends a minimal acceptable intake of approximately 1.3mg/day.
Pine seeds are a good source of dietary iron and copper. Together, these two essential elements play a crucial role in the processes of red blood cells production.
Copper is responsible for the absorption and utilization of iron. And iron is involved in numerous biological processes. In our body, it is the most important transition metal. The color of blood is due to hemoglobin, an iron-containing protein. Haemoglobin is responsible for the transport and storage of oxygen, as well as the transfer of electrons. It is also the metal at the active site of many important redox enzymes dealing with cellular respiration. A human male of average height has about 4 grams of iron in his body (of which three quarters is in hemoglobin), a female about 3.5 grams. This iron is distributed throughout the body in hemoglobin, tissues, muscles, bone marrow, blood proteins, and enzymes.
Everyone knows that calcium is necessary for strong bones, but magnesium and phosphorus are also vital for healthy bones. The main component of bone is hydroxyapatite as well as amorphous forms of calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate salts assist in stiffening bones. Hydroxyapatite is the main component of tooth enamel. About two-thirds of the magnesium in the human body is found in our skeleton. An average adult human contains about 0.7 kg of phosphorus, about 85–90% in bones and teeth. An adult with healthy diet consumes and excretes about 1–3 grams of phosphorus per day. One serving of pine seeds provides with 82% Daily Value of phosphorus and 71% of magnesium.
Thanks to a high content of phosphorus in pine seeds, this delicious nut helps provide your every cell with energy as ATP. Phosphorus plays a major role in the structural framework of DNA and RNA. Living cells use phosphate to transport cellular energy with adenosine triphosphate (ATP), necessary for every cellular process that uses energy. ATP is also important for phosphorylation, a key regulatory event in cells.
Pine seeds have 5 essential vitamins in significant amounts. If you eat pine seeds on a regular basis you can enjoy all the health benefits that these vitamins provide.
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): It is needed for the metabolism of sugars and amino acids. As people are unable to make it, thiamine is an essential nutrient. All organisms use vitamin B1, but it is made only in bacteria, fungi, and plants. Humans must obtain it from their diet. Nuts, particularly hazelnuts are one of the best sources of B1. Thiamine’s phosphate derivatives are involved in many cellular processes. Vitamin B1 is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin is required for enzymes to perform many vital physiological actions.
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Niacin is primarily used to treat high blood cholesterol and pellagra (niacin deficiency). Insufficient vitamin B3 in the diet can cause nausea, skin and mouth lesions, anemia, headaches, and tiredness.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E has many biological functions, including its role as a fat-soluble antioxidant. It acts as a peroxyl radical scavenger, disabling the production of damaging free radicals. Vitamin E plays a role in eye and neurological functions. It also protects lipids and prevents the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Vitamin K: The human body requires vitamin K for complete synthesis of certain proteins that are prerequisites for blood coagulation. It is also needed for controlling binding of calcium in bones. Deficiency of vitamin K may weaken bones, potentially leading to osteoporosis. Adequate intake of vitamin K is associated with the inhibition of arterial calcification and stiffening.
Every living cell is encased in a membrane that separates it from its surroundings. Phospholipids are the main structural components of all cellular membranes.
Published in 2006 in the “American Chemical Society”, the study “Korean pine nut may offer help for obesity” has shown that pine nuts are rich in pinolenic acid. Pinolenic acid has its potential use in weight loss by curbing appetite. The acid causes the triggering of two hunger suppressants that provide a sense of fullness. The highest percentage of pinolenic acid is found in Siberian pine nuts.
Pine nuts for weight loss
Pine seeds are very rich in total fat providing 104% of the DV. But don’t let concerns about gaining weight prevent you from enjoying the delicious taste and many health benefits of pine nuts! Moreover, pine nuts are rich in pinolenic acid that can suppress appetite.
How many pine seeds can you eat per day?
A one-ounce serving is widely recommended, which is 28 grams or approximately 160 kernels of pine nuts.
How to Eat Pine Seeds?
Shelled pine seeds deteriorate rapidly, becoming rancid within a few weeks or even days in warm humid conditions. Pine nuts are commercially available in shelled form, but due to poor storage, can have poor flavour and may be already rancid at the time of purchase. Consequently, pine nuts are often frozen to preserve their flavour.