Pine nuts make a great ‘secret weapon’ in your cooking. They’re small and innocuous but if you add them to a salad, then they will greatly improve the taste all without adding many calories or much expense. They can likewise be sprinkled onto an eggs royale or eggs benedict, or they can be added to various chicken dishes. Keep some around!
But as well as boosting the flavor and winning points as top chef, adding pine nuts will also help you to improve the healthiness of your meals, seeing as they are absolutely packed with valuable nutrients.
Of course, you’re probably familiar with the notion that nuts contain lots of important nutrients. We all know they’re a great source of fiber, they tend to pack in magnesium and zinc… blah, blah, blah.
But the benefits of pine nuts go further and they can even help you with weight loss! Interested yet? Read on and let’s take a closer look at how this works…
First let’s address that last point. One of the most curious benefits of pine nuts is the fact that they can help you to lose weight… but how exactly does that work?
Essentially, pine nuts contain an important nutrient called cholecystokinin (CCK), which is an appetite suppressing hormone. That in turn means that you will be less likely to feel the pangs of hunger and that in turn means that you will be less likely to snack and ruin your calorie target!
Is this going to turn you into a thin, lean athlete overnight? Obviously not. However, it might just be enough to give you an added edge and particularly if you recognize the nature of those hunger pangs and learn to tell the difference between genuine hunger and a psychological habit.
Likewise, pinolenic acid may also be able to further enhance weight loss keeping the stomach fuller. In one study, women who added pinolenic acid to their breakfast found that they absorbed food more slowly, eventually resulting in a 37% decrease in the amount they ate.
Add to the fact that pine nuts make for a relatively low-calorie snack that’s still satisfying and you have a great choice for snacking between meals – if you have to!
Pine nuts can help boost energy thanks to a number of different nutrients. They contain iron for instance, which can aid with the circulation of red blood cells, providing the cells, muscles and brain with more nutrients and oxygen. At the same time, pine nuts are also high in magnesium, which lowers fatigue.
Another interesting inclusion is lutein. Lutein is a nutrient that is most commonly associated with eye health. Lutein is able to improve vision and prevent macular degeneration in old age. More recently, it was found that lutein could also enhance energy levels and in one study, it was found that rats given lutein would run further and faster on a treadmill than those that didn’t have it in their diet.
In fact, the rats that were given extra lutein would do so much extra voluntary running, that they eventually lost a lot of weight. This was thanks to the activation of an enzyme called AMPK – the ‘marathon enzyme’.
Magnesium actually has a range of other health benefits though too. One of the most interesting is its ability to improve brain function. Firstly, magnesium is useful for relaxing the muscles and when taken just before bed, it might help to improve sleep.
This is very useful because sleep is when our bodies and minds recover from the stresses of the day. Getting a higher quality and quantity of sleep will help you to feel more energetic, more switched on and even happier the following day.
Better yet though, magnesium also encourages brain plasticity. This is the ability of the brain to form new neural connections and thereby allow us to learn new concepts. The more plastic the brain is, the quicker you will adapt to new challenges and develop yourself and grow. This is also highly protective against age-related cognitive decline.
And guess what? Lutein actually has another great benefit, which is its ability to boost brain function. This should perhaps come as no surprise, given that the brain and the eyes are linked.
Even more recent research has uncovered that lutein can help to speed up cognitive milestones in infants, helping them to get to important development points more quickly than their peers. This can even result in higher test scores at school, potentially resulting in them being set-up for better performance and achievement throughout the rest of their lives.
It’s not just children that can benefit from this either. Adults are shown to benefit from slower cognitive decline and sharper attention and general mental performance! These are some pretty impressive benefits of pine nuts!
There are numerous ingredients in pine nuts that have heart-boosting effects. These include the healthy monosaturated fats, the magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin K and manganese. According to research, eating pinolenic acid can also help to reduce bad cholesterol, potentially by improving the liver’s uptake of LDL.
Supporting your heart and your brain as you age are two very good reasons to add pine nuts to your diet… but there’s more! Pine nuts can also provide you with a wide range of crucial antioxidants, which include but are not limited to vitamin A, B, C, D and E (that’s like… a quarter of the alphabet!). Antioxidants, as you likely know, are crucial for our health because they help us to block the effect of reactive compounds in our diet. These compounds could otherwise cause damage to the cell walls, resulting in the appearance of wrinkles and age spots. Worse, that damage can sometimes penetrate all the way through to the DNA, causing unwanted mutations and possibly leading to cancer.
So that’s just one more reason to sprinkle pine nuts on as many meals as you can. It’s even worth putting up with ‘pine nut mouth’!