Chilgoza Pine Nuts (pinus gerardiana) is distinct pine variety found in western Himalayan forests of Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Chilgoza Pines have similar appearance as stone pines; featuring long slender, pointed kernels.
Pine nuts are one of the calorie-rich edible nuts. 100 g of dry-kernels provide 673 calories. Additionally, they comprise of numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
Their high caloric content chiefly comes from fats. Indeed, the nuts, especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid (18:1 undifferentiated fat) that helps to lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increases HDL or "good-cholesterol" in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which contain good amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants, helps to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
Pine or cedar nuts contain essential fatty acid (ω-6 fat), pinolenic acid. Recent research has shown its potential use in weight loss by curbing the appetite. Pinolenic acid triggers the release of hunger-suppressant enzymes cholecystokinin and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) in the gut. In addition, pinolenic acid was thought to have LDL-lowering properties by enhancing hepatic LDL uptake.
Like almonds, pines are an excellent source of vitamin E; contain about 9.33 mg per 100 g (about 62% of RDA). Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
Furthermore, like almonds and peanuts,pines too are free from gluten and therefore, are a popular ingredient in the preparation of gluten-free food formulas. Such formula preparations are, in fact, healthy alternatives in people with wheat food allergy and celiac disease.
Pine nuts are an excellent source of B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folates. These vitamins work as co-factors for enzymes in cellular substrate metabolism inside the human body.
Furthermore, pine nuts contain healthy amounts of essential minerals like manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. At 8.802 mg per 100 g (about 383% of daily recommended intake), pines are one of the richest sources of manganese. Manganese is an all-important co-factor for antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. It is therefore, consumption of pines helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.