Pine nuts, also called as Pinon nuts, pignoli and sometimes Indian nuts. Pine nuts are fanciest among all the nuts because they are small, cute, and tastes sweet. They are crunchy, yet buttery textured edible seeds of female cones of the Pine tree. Scientifically, it belongs to the Pinaceae family. There are various kinds of pine nuts like Korean pine, Chilgoza pine, stone pine, pinyon pines, Colorado pinyon etc.
How it is grown
Pine trees are huge and erect tree that reaches up to 75 ft in height. The flowers grow in the form of a cone and mature in three years. A matured female cone measures 3cm – 36 cm length. When the cone matures it opens up naturally to release the seeds. The cones are dropped into a burlap bag and repeatedly smashed against rough surfaces to shatter the cone. Then the seeds are gathered from the bag leaving the residues behind. The nut being cream white in color is covered by a tough dark-brown shell.
Where it is grown
In Asia, they are mainly harvested in western Himalayas, Northeast Asia. They are also cultivated in other parts of the world like North America, Europe, United States, etc. With respect to Asia, Afghanistan is considered as a leading producer of pine nuts. The tree grows at an altitude of 7500ft above the ground. High humidity level enhances the development of pine cones.
A single serving of pine nuts provide various nutrients that are required to maintain good health. It contains anti-oxidants namely lutein and vitamin A, B, C, D and E.They are excellent source of mono unsaturated fatty acids like omega-6 fatty acid. They are also considered as a source of pinoleic acid that is found rare in other nuts. They contain minerals like iron and magnesium.
Pine nuts have many health beneficial factors that are listed below
- As the pine nuts are rich in mono unsaturated fatty acids, they are considered as one of the food substances that can reduce the bad cholesterol.
- The pinoleic acid that is present in pine nuts triggers the release of hunger suppressants, and hence used for weight reduction.
- Pine nuts are gluten free tree nuts and so preferred by those who have allergic reactions towards wheat.
- Regular consumption of pine nuts enhances vision, protects retina and prevents cataract as they are rich in vitamin A and lutein.
- They are also used for liver and heart health maintenance.
- They contain minerals like magnesium and iron that protects the cells from free radical damage, relives from muscle cramps, tension and fatigue.
Facts and other uses
Pine nut is compressed to extract oil that has a very strong taste, hence is used to flavor many vegetables and salads. It is also used as medicine in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry. Pine nuts may cause pine mouth or pinenut syndrome which is merely a taste difference. It makes everything we eat in to a bitter and metallic taste and that lasts for few hours. It also causes allergic reaction on some people whose symptoms may include itchiness, hives, redness, rashes, vomiting and dizziness.