The incredible flavor of pine nuts , their crunchy texture and a huge amount of healthy fats, vitamins , minerals and antioxidants are the reason these small seeds are highly prized by culinary masters in the world and an important component of our nutrition.
Pine nuts are actually the seeds of either the Siberian pine, or 20 different types of pine cones, fruit trees in the Pinaceae family, from the Pinus genus. Pine nuts are delicious edible seeds, also known as cedar seeds.
In Europe, pine nuts come from Italian Piñata (Pinus pinea) – a type of coniferous tree reaching a height of 20 meters, which has an interesting umbrella-like crown. Nuts that the Piñata gives are sized approximately 2 cm and have a flat elongated oval shape. Smaller production comes from the so-called Silver fir. Globally, however, most important are the pine nuts grown in northern China, where Korean Piñata grows.
The trees provide the larger and valuable pine nuts at a rate of about 20 at a time. There are other species whose seeds are edible, but their sizes are too small. Although pine nuts have found the name "nuts", botanical laws dictate that they are actually seeds.
History does not remember when people first started to learn about the taste and health benefits of pine nuts, but there are allegations that link the legendary physician Avicenna as one of the first to become familiar with the benefits of these tree seeds.
Composition of pine nuts
Pine nuts and hide a precious rich palette of nutrients. They are healthy and among all nuts they have the most easily digestible protein-rich among them. The proteins also carry elevated amino acids including arginine stands.
19 amino acids can be found in pine nuts and about 70% of them are irreplaceable. Monounsaturated fatty acids are essential for the good work of the heart, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. The small and tasty seeds are an excellent source of fiber.
Pine nuts are an excellent source of plant nutrients, essential minerals and vitamins, fats and proteins. Emphasis in the range of nutrients is on the fat soluble vitamins E and F. Pine nuts are the masters of B vitamins, but at the same time are full of antioxidants and minerals - potassium, magnesium, lots of iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iodine, silicon, manganese, barium, titanium, silver, aluminum, cobalt, sodium iodide and others.
They are a source of vitamin K, the important for eye health lutein and vitamin A, they have phosphatidic phosphorous content and pine nuts again outrank almost all other nuts and seeds in this aspect, being outpaced only by soybeans, which is the richest source of lecithin.
In 100 g of pine nuts, there are 780 calories, 28 g protein, 90 g fat, 18 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber. The same amount of pine seeds brings our body about 31 grams of protein – they are the champion of protein among all nuts.
Pine Nuts Selection and Storage
If not packaged in a shop, they can be found in bulk at markets. When choosing pine nuts , be sure to ask the seller to give you one to try, because they may not be of good quality because of improper storage.
Pine nuts come mostly peeled, which somewhat reduces their shelf life. It is mandatory that their shell must be removed before you eat them, but note that shelled pine nuts have a long shelf life. It is best to store them in the refrigerator.
Culinary use of pine nuts
Pine nuts are trademarks of Mediterranean cuisine. They have an unique and delicious taste and are very popular in cooking throughout the world. Italians regularly add pine nuts in the preparation of dishes with different meats, fish, pastas or vegetables. These nuts are loved by many salads.
In addition to salads, pine nuts combine very well with rice, saffron and some types of sauces. They are a fundamental ingredient in the original recipe of the Italian pesto sauce. Their wide use in the cooking style of southwestern France is responsible for the creation of many culinary masterpieces.
Pine nuts are widely used in confectionery and in the preparation of various sweets. With roasted pine nuts are prepared traditional Italian cookies. Small flat grains are added quite frequently in chocolate specialties or some varieties of syrupy pastries and baklava.
Benefits of pine nuts
Regular consumption of pine nuts can bring huge benefits. Because of the abundance of antioxidants, pine nuts slow down the process of aging. High content of lutein, which is very important against eye overloads protects our vision and allows you to avoid eye diseases.
Pine nuts can protect us from eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts, as they contribute vitamin A in the form of beta carotene.
Already in medieval times, the glory of pine nuts spread everywhere are their ability to maintain libido brought them fame. Because of the high content of zinc in them, male potency remains in excellent condition.
Daily, you should eat between 5 to 20 grams, which is equivalent to about four teaspoons. The vitamin E in the pine nut is essential. This vitamin is needed as to the formation of breast milk in nursing mothers, and its deficiency stops lactation.
Vitamin E plays a role in fertility. The word "tocopherol" translated from Greek means "bearer of heritage". Vitamin E has the function to maintain the balance of fats in our body.
Vitamin B complex is important for the proper operation of the nervous system, heart and overall development of adolescents, the condition of the blood. B vitamins are a good helper against infectious, parasitic, cardiovascular disease, bone and joint problems and have a preventive effect against the onset of problems with joints and bones.
Though rich in fat, pine nuts are a source of beneficial unsaturated fats, which are so important for the body. On top of that, they will not only make us put on weight, but on the contrary - it will help us lose weight. They are an effective appetite suppressant because they activate the release of two hormones that suppress hunger - cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).
Monounsaturated fats, which pine nuts are rich in, are very good for the heart, lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart attack. A complex of other vitamins and minerals promotes good overall functioning of the cardiovascular system.
iron in pine nuts is an important element for the proper functioning of many processes in the body. If you get enough iron, you will be protected against depression, apathy and will experience a complete lack of fatigue.
Dangers of pine nuts
Pine nuts can cause problems for people who have allergies to nuts. This is due to the high content of proteins, which become the seed of cedar, a strong allergen. Remember, though very tasty, they are very calorie reach and must eaten in moderation. 50g. of pine nuts in combination with other types of nuts are quite a sufficient dose of the day.
If you suspect that you are allergic to pine nuts and do not know if they may harm you, you can try a very small amount of them for the first time. If after several days you have had no apparent effect, increase the dose gradually.