Pine nut oil is obtained from the nutlike seeds found in the fertilised female cones of certain species of pine trees. The nuts and oil are widely used in cooking, particularly in Italian and Greek cuisines. Scientific research suggests that there are several health benefits associated with pine nut oil and virtually no side effects.
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Pine nuts and pine nut oil are an abundant source of protein, arginine, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, iron, zinc, vitamin E and several B vitamins. Many of these nutrients are noted for their antioxidant properties. Additional health benefits of pine nut oil are attributed to the presence of pinolenic acid, a fatty acid and isomer of gamma-linolenic acid. The highest levels of pinolenic acid are found in the nuts of Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) and Siberian pine (Pinus sibirica).
Blood Pressure Reduction
A 1994 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition focused on the benefits of Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) nut oil in terms of reducing blood pressure as compared to fatty acids found in other oils, such as evening primrose, safflower and flaxseed oils. The researchers discovered that pinolenic acid was more effective than gamma-linolenic and linoleic acid in stimulating an increase in prostacyclin production, which promotes the dilation of vascular smooth muscle and inhibits platelet aggregation.
Cholesterol Lowering Benefits
Pinolenic acid also appears to lower LDL cholesterol, the “bad” kind of cholesterol. The authors of a study published in the April 2004 issue of Lipids reported that concentrated pinolenic acid from Korean pine nut oil effectively reduces LDL cholesterol levels by acting on hepatoma HepG2 cells, thereby improving hepatic LDL uptake at low-density lipoprotein receptor sites.
There is sufficient evidence to indicate that pine nut oil may act as an appetite suppressant. Researchers conducting a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 18 post-menopausal overweight women set out to examine the effects of pinolenic acid on appetite. The study results, which were published in the March 20, 2009 issue of Lipids in Health and Disease, concluded that pinolenic acid stimulates the release of cholecystokinin and glucagon-like peptide-1, two essential hormones that signal a feeling of fullness. In fact, compared to placebo, levels of cholecystokinin were 60 per cent higher in the Korean pine nut oil-treated group, an effect observed to last for up to four hours. In addition, hunger sensation was 36 per cent lower among study subjects in the treated group compared to placebo.
Side Effects of Pine Nut Oil
There are no known side effects associated with pine nut oil. However, it is conceivable that rare allergic reactions could occur in people with sensitivities to other nuts, like peanuts. If you have an existing nut allergy, it would be advisable to consult a health care practitioner before supplementing with pine nut oil.
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