The edible seeds of pine trees – pine nuts have immense health benefits. These nuts, mentioned by Greek authors as early as 300 BC have been consumed for a thousand years. Scientifically known as ‘Pinus Gerardiana’, pine trees are native to eastern Afghanistan, China, Korea, Russia and north-west India.
Although there are 20 species of pine seeds, only a few of them are harvested. It takes almost 18 months to three years for pine nuts to mature. Once harvested, they must be shelled and consumed shortly afterwards. Harvested mostly by hands, it requires Mediterranean weather conditions to grow.
Eaten raw or roasted, pine nuts have a sweet crunchy flavour and are a great option for snacks. Not only are they delicious to eat, but are also rich in vitamins and minerals and contains monosaturated fats and antioxidants along with fatty acids that help in losing weight. Apart from reducing the risk of diabetes and heart attacks, it is good for skin and hair.
Here are some of the other benefits of pine nuts:
* Containing beta-carotene and antioxidants, it helps in improving vision. The compound lutein present in it prevents our eyesight from getting damaged with age.
* Diabetics must include pine nuts in their everyday diet as it helps in controlling high glucose levels and helps in the reduction of bad cholesterol.
* Containing vitamins E, K and magnesium, pine nuts helps in lowering blood pressure levels and reduces the risk of heart attack.
* The presence of vitamin E and antioxidants help promote skin health. It also helps in moisturising the skin and has anti-ageing properties as well. It also prevents skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
* Pine nuts also help combat hair fall problems. Because of their high protein content, it protects the hair from getting damaged.
* It high nutrient content helps boost your energy and helps prevent fatigue. It improves our body’s oxygen use, thus increasing energy levels.
* During pregnancy, pine nuts are beneficial for the health of the mother and the baby as it contains lots of protein and iron.
* Rich in vitamin K and calcium, this nuts help in building stronger bones.
* Pine nuts are known as ‘pignon’ in French and ‘pinones’ in Spanish.
* It is a dietary staple in some North American tribes.
* Pine nuts are widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine like kibbeh and baklava.
* Earlier, pine nuts were used for curing illness and other medicinal purposes in Egyptian culture.
* The Hebrew prophet Hosea even referred to pine nuts in the Old Testament.
Pine nuts are a little expensive but including a handful of these in your everyday diet will be good for your overall health. Apart from eating them roasted, you can have them as a crunchy addition to your smoothies, salads and other vegetarian dishes.
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