What Grows High Up In Pine Trees, Tastes Delicious, And Is Good For Your Bones?
Rich and crunchy, the pine nut has a buttery flavor and a texture reminiscent of macadamia nuts. Unlike macadamia nuts, though, pine nuts grow inside the cones of certain pine trees, and are botanically a seed rather than a nut.
As a matter of fact, obtaining pine nuts from their pine cone housing is quite laborious; yet people have been willing to do the work for thousands of years. That’s undoubtedly because the pine nut is not only delicious, but packed with vital nutrients for your bones and your body.
What’s So Special About Pine Nuts?
When you take a look at the procedure for harvesting pine nuts, which we will discuss in a moment, you will begin to appreciate just how special these little seeds are.
Yes, pine nuts are seeds – it would be convenient if they were called pine seeds! A seed differs from a nut in that a seed is essentially a tiny “capsule” that contains all the components needed to develop into a plant. A nut, on the other hand, consists of a dry fruit and one or more seeds. Acorns are nuts, as are chestnuts and hazelnuts.
Another sort of consumable “nut” is the drupe, which is a “pit” surrounded by fruit; but the pit, not the fruit, is typically consumed. Examples of drupes (that are often called nuts) include walnuts, almonds, and pecans. Peaches and plums are also drupes; but with these, the seed is discarded and the flesh eaten.
Seeds are encased in a protective shell which may or may not need to be removed before consuming the seed. Poppy, sesame, and flax seeds do not needs to have their shells removed in order to enjoy them; sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and pine nuts have to be shelled before eating. And before that can happen, they must be dried, which is part of the harvesting process.
Obtaining The Precious Pine Nut
Out of more than 100 species of pine, only 20 yield a large enough seed for human consumption. Found in Europe, China, Korea, and North America, these special pine trees have been sought out by humans for 5,000 years.
The fruit of high-growing pine cones, pine nuts can take up to three years to mature to the point of edibility. Once they’re ready – and there is a rather narrow window for harvesting them – these precious seeds require quite a bit of labor to obtain.
First, the pine cones must be retrieved from the tree (no small feat), placed in burlap bags, and left in the sun to dry for about 20 days. As the pine cones dry, they open and spread their scales, releasing the pine nuts.
However, the pine nuts do not all simply drop out. The harvesters must beat the burlap bags against a hard surface to shake out all the seeds. Then, the pine nuts’ outer shell must be removed before they can be consumed.
This explains why pine nuts can be a bit expensive. But the good news is, they are so nutrient and calorie-dense that you only need a small amount of them to reap all the benefits they have to offer. And they do have much to offer – the nutritional profile of these seeds is quite impressive.
While pine nuts are acidifying, they are meant to be consumed in small quantities as noted above, so including them in your 20% of acidifying foods is quite simple. I’ll share a recipe in a moment to help you get started on including these seeds in your diet; but first, I want to reveal how amazingly nutritious pine nuts are.
What’s In A Pine Nut?
Many of the nutrients in pine nuts are Foundation Supplements in the Save Our Bones Program.
In one ounce of pine nuts (35 grams, or about ¼ cup), there are nearly 3 milligrams of Vitamin E. An antioxidant as well as a vitamin, Vitamin E is a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient that helps build muscle. Reduction of inflammation and strong muscles are two key components of strengthening bones and reversing (and preventing) osteoporosis.
While often overlooked by the Medical Establishment, Vitamin K, and in particular menaquinone or K2, is an indispensable component of bone remodeling. It works with Vitamin D in the vital process of osteoblast formation, and osteocalcin, a bone-binding substance, can do its job only when Vitamin K is present to alter it chemically. An ounce of pine nuts delivers 15 micrograms of Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone), which is 12 percent of the RDA for men and 17 percent for women.
Deficiency of this mineral is widespread in the Western world, thanks in large part to the prevalence of “convenience foods” that are highly processed. Pine nuts, like other seeds, are one of Nature’s most convenient foods – once they are harvested! It’s simple and healthy to grab a handful of these seeds as part of your 20 acidifying foods; a handful ends up being about an ounce, which is the typical serving size.
That handful of pine nuts will nourish your bones with a remarkable 71 milligrams of magnesium, which is almost a quarter of the RDA for women.
Many premenopausal women do not get adequate iron in their diets. Iron supplements can cause a host of problems, so ingesting this mineral from foods is the best way to get enough. Iron is necessary for your cells to transport oxygen and produce energy.
Much of the bone matrix is composed of connective tissue, and manganese is essential for the integrity of that tissue. Manganese also promotes hormonal balance and helps blood clotting. An ounce of pine nuts contains 2.5 milligrams of manganese, which fulfills the RDA.
This trace mineral is very important for immune system function and the proliferation of cells, including the cells involved in bone remodeling. Almost 2 milligrams of zinc are in an ounce of pine nuts, which amounts to around 15 percent of the RDA.
Vitamins B1*, B2*, and B3* (Thiamin, Niacin, and Riboflavin)
These three B-complex vitamins work together with other B vitamins promote proper nervous system functioning, production of red blood cells, and healthy skin, hair, and nails (to name a few!). That same ounce of pine nuts has .1 milligrams of B1, .06 milligrams of B2, and 1.2 milligrams of niacin, which amounts to 7, 3.5, and 6.2 percent of the RDA, respectively.
Other Bone-Smart Nutrients In Pine Nuts
In addition to all the bone-building vitamins and minerals, pine nuts also contain a number of substances that rejuvenate bone and enhance your overall health.
One of these substances is a fatty acid called pinoleic acid. Interestingly, pinoleic acid acts as an appetite suppressant by causing your body to release a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK), which triggers feelings of satiety. So pine nuts help you feel fuller for longer, aiding you in resisting bone-damaging junk foods that can tempt you when you’re feeling hungry.
Additionally, pine nuts encourage cardiovascular health thanks to their monounsaturated fat content. These healthful fats help your body resist cardiovascular disease by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
A Delicious Recipe With Pine Nuts
As I mentioned earlier, pine nuts are not intended to be eaten in large quantities. Not only are they acidifying, but their high fat content (even though it is healthful fat) makes them very high in calories – 191 of them in one ounce. But in moderation, these little seeds are excellent bone-health boosters.
Here is a recipe ready in just minutes to help incorporate pine nuts into your daily bone-smart diet.
- 3 cups quinoa, cooked
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons dried cherries (or your favorite alkalizing dried fruit)
- Sea salt to taste
- In a skillet, heat the olive oil, pine nuts, sunflower seeds and almonds until lightly browned.
- Place nuts, seeds, and cooked quinoa in a bowl, and mix well.
- Add the parsley and dried cherries. Season with sea salt (optional), and drizzle with salad dressing, if desired.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
There’s no doubt about it…
Seeds Are Excellent Bone-Builders!
There are so many delicious ways to use these small but bountiful gifts from Nature! In the Save Our Bones cookbook, Bone Appétit, you’ll find many recipes that incorporate seeds and nuts. They’re included in a wide variety of pH-balanced recipes in Bone Appétit, so you can enjoy their bone-building benefits as you eat your way to younger, fracture-resistant bones.
Berry Good Pancakes (page 6), Health Nut Waffles (page 7), Cherry Walnut Bars (page 10), Country Style Granola (page 16), Good ‘Ole Days Cake (page 123), Vivian’s Famous One Bowl Banana Cake (page 125), Topkapi Palace Cookies (page 128) and Chocolate Banana Pudding (page 131) are just a few examples of the plethora of recipes with nuts and seeds. These tasty recipes are listed in the Breakfast and Dessert sections of Bone Appétit, but you’ll also find ample use of nuts and seeds in recipes throughout.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
And feel free to share with the Saver community your pH-balanced ideas on how to include healthful nuts and seeds by leaving a comment below.
Till next time,