Several types of pine nuts exist, but the most common are the European pine nut, or pignolia, and the American pine nut, or pinyon. The flavor is similar, although the pinyon may be sweeter. Pesto sauce is among the most popular uses for these nuts, but you can also eat them plain or include them whole or ground in vegetable, rice and chicken dishes. Adding chopped pine nuts to baked goods is another option.
Heart Healthy Fats
The calories in pine nuts come primarily from fat, but the monounsaturated fatty acids in these nuts may be good for your heart. Pine nuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid; oleic acid, or omega-9 fatty acid; and pinolenic acid, an essential fatty acid found in conifer seeds. The body converts ALA into the type of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, which may help protect against cardiovascular problems. Omega-9 fatty acid also appears to be heart-protective, note experts from the Huntington College of Health Sciences.
Source of Vitamins E and B-Complex
Pine nuts are rich in vitamin E, with 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces, of pine nuts providing over 9 milligrams of this vitamin. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the cells from free radicals that can damage them. This vitamin may also help lower risk of heart disease, suggest experts from the University of Maryland. Pine nuts also contain significant amounts of B-complex vitamins, especially thiamin, or vitamin B1, niacin, or vitamin B3, and folate. B-complex vitamins help you maintain healthy skin, good vision and a properly functioning metabolism and nervous system.
Source of Manganese and Copper
Manganese is one of the most abundant minerals in pine nuts. A 100 gram serving provides almost 9 milligrams of this mineral, several times the Recommended Daily Allowance, notes Dr. Umapathi Mangajjis at the website Nutrition and You. This mineral is important for bone health and may help reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. The body also needs this mineral to make superoxide dismutase, or SOD, an antioxidant enzyme. In addition, pine nuts are a good source of copper, with a 100 grams serving providing 1.3 milligrams, 147 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance. Copper is necessary for healthy red blood cells, skin and connective tissues.
Phytonutrients for Healthy Eyes
A 100 gram serving of pine nuts contains 17 micrograms beta-carotene and 9 micrograms lutein-zeaxanthin, both phytonutrients, or plant-based nutrients. The body can convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, a nutrient that maintains the health of the eyes' retinas. The retina also requires lutein-zeaxanthin, and getting sufficient amounts may help slow the development of macular degeneration and cataracts, advise experts from Oregon State University.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.