Pine nuts are not botanically referred to as nuts, but as seeds, since they are the seedlings of pinecones. Pine nuts are actually one of the higher fat nuts, and are often used in rich foods such as pesto. But don't let their small size fool you -- pine nuts are very nutrient dense, and full of vitamins A, C and D.


Nutritional powerhouses
A single serving of the lowly pine nut can provide you with up to fourteen grams of protein per serving, depending upon the species. Pine nuts are anywhere from ten to thirty-four percent protein. They’re also an excellent source of fiber as well as vitamins E, K, and niacin. In terms of minerals, they’re an excellent source of magnesium and potassium which is important for maintaining a healthy heart and blood pressure.

Curb your appetite
It may surprise you to learn that pine nuts can be a potent appetite suppressor. Why? They’re a good source of a polyunsaturated fat known as pinolenic acid. When you eat a handful of pine nuts, the pinolenic acid stimulates the secretion of a hormone produced by the intestines known as CCK. CCK sends the signal to your brain that you’re full which turns off your appetite. It also helps to slow down the rate at which your stomach empties so you feel full and satisfied longer. Who would have dreamed these tiny seeds from the pinecone could zap your appetite?

Heart healthy
Pine nuts are high in monounsaturated fats, the same “heart healthy” fats that make nuts and olive oil so beneficial. These fats have not only been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels but also help to protect the arteries from damage which can lead to a heart attack. Because of their high content, they can go rancid quickly when you buy them already shelled. Their shelf life can be prolonged by refrigeration.

Antioxidant protection
Pine nuts are also high in antioxidants which help to protect the cells of your body from free radical damage. Pine nut oil can also be bought at some natural food markets to help you deliver even more antioxidant power to your salads.